Beneficial ownership

Beneficial ownership refers to an individual’s right to the benefit and control of an asset, such as property or shares in a company. It refers to the person (the beneficial owner) that ultimately benefits from the asset (that is, has the right to receive profits, income, interest, etc), when legal ownership is held by another person or entity.

In the context of companies and shares, for example, if a company has issued shares to a nominee, the nominee is the legal owner of the shares, but the beneficial owner is the individual on whose behalf the shares are held either directly (when the nominee is also the beneficial owner) or indirectly (such as through interposed companies whose ultimate controlling person is the beneficial owner).