Legal Matters: Is your business ready for the new Transparency Register requirements?

This article was originally published by The Hamilton Spectator.

Starting January 1st, all private Ontario corporations will be required to maintain a Transparency Register.

Q: What is a Transparency Register and why do I need it?

A: Transparency Register identifies “Individuals with Significant Control” over the corporation, which includes:

  • Individuals who own at least 25 per cent of the corporation’s shares
  • Individuals who have the ability to directly or indirectly control or influence the corporation’s directors or shareholders
  • Other individuals as prescribed by the new legislation

The Transparency Register aims to prevent fraudulent corporate activity, such as money laundering and tax evasion. It will require disclosure of the name, date of birth, and address of all Individuals with Significant Control, along with other pieces of information about these individuals as required by the legislation.

Q: Who can access the information in a Transparency Register?

A: The Transparency Register will be accessible by the Government of Ontario, police, the Canada Revenue Agency, and various other regulatory bodies. The Transparency Register is generally not available to the public.

Q: What happens if I don’t comply?

A: Every private Ontario corporation will have an obligation to ensure their Transparency Register stays up to date. A corporation’s failure to comply with these new requirements may result in a fine of up to $5,000. Additionally, any director, officer, or shareholder of the corporation who knowingly fails to comply with this new legislation may be liable for fines as high as $200,000 and imprisonment for as long as six months.

Seeking legal advice is highly recommended to ensure your corporation is compliant with the new Transparency Register requirements. Please reach out to the professionals at Ross & McBride if you need advice or assistance.

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