Blok: holders of bearer shares no longer anonymous

It will soon be possible to identify holders of bearer shares by means of their securities accounts, meaning they can no longer remain anonymous. This new measure is intended to prevent securities being used to finance terrorism or to engage in tax evasion or money laundering activities and is set out in a bill that Minister Blok of Security & Justice posted on the Internet today for purposes of consultation, also on behalf of Minister Dijsselbloem of Finance. The House of Representatives had already been informed of the regulation by letter.

The idea is that it will only be possible to trade in shares via a securities account kept by an intermediary, such as a bank or an investment firm. As a securities account is linked to the holder's name, trading bearer shares anonymously will no longer be possible. If necessary, investigative services will be able to request the account holder's information from intermediaries. In implementing this measure, the government is following the recommendations of the Global Forum and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Shareholders who keep their securities at home can give them to an intermediary designated by the company for safekeeping. If these shareholders have not done this within two years after the law enters into force, their bearer certificates will be cancelled. At that time, the company will calculate the value of the cancelled shares and pay this amount into the deposit fund. A holder of a cancelled bearer share can report to the deposit fund to collect the value of cancelled shares along with any interest. The deposit fund contains money belonging to the company that has been given to the Ministry of Finance for safekeeping.

A company can also choose to convert bearer shares into registered shares. In that case, it should be taken into account that not all holders of bearer shares will register, which means those shareholders will remain anonymous for a longer period of time. For this reason, the bearer shares will be cancelled twenty years after the law enters into force. Until that time, holders of bearer shares can have them converted into registered shares.