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Trusts and Estate Planning

I referred to the new anti-money laundering act in an earlier post regarding trusts.

The same Act amends the Companies Act to require the reporting of beneficial ownership (essentially the shareholders) of all companies to CIPC.

Interestingly, the Master of the High Court has already published their requirements on their portal

CIPC have also added the facility to their website, but at my last try it didn’t work.

One side effect of this is that those of you who are employees who are not allowed by their employer to run a business will now no longer be able to hide your ownership of the shares by appointing your spouse as the director.

I’ve seen no indication yet of any time limit after the Act became law within which one must report this information.

I have a problem in that I am the shareholder of a few hundred shelf companies and the independent professional trustee of a heck of a lot of trusts. The legislation was rushed through so quickly that no thought was given to the likes of me.

And I have not yet explored what has to be reported to CIPC if the shareholder is a trust. Do we then have to report in duplicate to the Master of the High Court as well as to CIPC?

I guess I’ll have to get to the bottom of it all in due course.

I also read that the FATF still grey listed us because they said we already had sufficient legislation to satisfy their requirements, but we do not enforce it.

It’s typical of South Africa that if the government doesn’t like something they legislate against it and then think it will go away. No thought of enforcement.



  1. Hi, have you followed up on if the shareholder is a trust as we have 4 companies owned by 2 trusts so its a lot of paperwork if this is the case!

  2. Merek Svacha

    So if I understand correctly If We can get the site on a good day and update Beneficial Ownership, is that what we have to do to comply or is there anything else ?
    My current accountant wants to charge a substantial amount for it ?

    1. Hi Merek,
      As a test, I have done one where the shareholder is a trust and yes, it is a lot of work, because the BOs of the company are the BOs of the trust(s).
      We have got the company owned by natural persons as shareholders sorted. It’s not a big job as long as the information is to hand. I have about 150 shelf companies to do and it will probably take me about a day. Can’t get my staff to do them because they have no spare time.

  3. CIPC has actually added the ability to update Beneficial Ownership on their eservices website. Obviously, it doesn’t work, but it is there.

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