At the Global Tax Transparency Summit meeting held in London in December 2016, a senior official from the tax haven of Jersey claimed that one of the reasons for not making their registry of company ownership available to public scrutiny was the lack of a global standard for public company registries. TJN’s John Christensen, himself a former senior official of Jersey’s government, offered to fill that gap, arguing that civil society could provide a standard that serves as a benchmark of good practice. In this cooperative spirit, TJN’s Andres Knobel, based in Buenos Aires, has drafted a new brief on how technology can be harnessed to provide a secure, transparent platform for an online public company registry. Transparency, 21st century-style.
As he so rightly says,
“the technology already exists but commercial registers are hardly taking advantage of it. Where does that leave the fight against corruption? …credit cards use big data to detect fraud, Netflix can suggest targeted movies, Amazon does the same with books, Facebook is developing tools to prevent “false news” and “false amplification” (fake users and coordinated massive ‘comments’, ‘likes’ and ‘shares’) and Israel checks social media in order to identify potential terrorists. All this, and yet meanwhile the creation of ‘legal fictions’ (companies) that are involved in all of these technologies, is still mainly done on paper.“
His report is titled: Technology and online beneficial ownership registries: easier to create companies and better at preventing financial crimes. You can download the full report here.
We’d like to share with you a press release from the newly launched Tax Justice UK for immediate release:
We’re pleased to say that the world is moving towards the registration of beneficial owners (BOs) who are the natural persons who ultimately own, control or benefit from legal persons (e.g. companies) and legal arrangements (e.g. trusts). If made public, these registries would increase financial transparency. Public registers of BOs are the only way to prevent criminals from hiding behind opaque structures and nominees from facilitating tax evasion, money laundering, fraud, and other forms of corruption, including the financing of terrorism. They are also a prerequisite for the smooth functioning of markets by providing basic information for market participants and regulators so they know who is doing business where, as well as for the wider understanding of patterns of national and international economic activity.
New figures published today by the Tax Justice Network provide a country-level breakdown of the estimated tax losses to profit shifting by multinational companies. Applying a methodology developed by researchers at the International Monetary Fund to an improved dataset, the results indicate global losses of around $500 billion a year. The figures appear in a study published today by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER, in Helsinki).
A new research report published today looks at the current state and future prospects of a global public database of corporate accounts. We are cross posting this OpenDemocracy article written by Jonathan Gray, with permission from our partners on the open data for tax justice project at Open Knowledge International. You can read more about that about in our blog here.
The multinational corporation has become one of the most powerful and influential forms of economic organisation in the modern world. Emerging at the bleeding edge of colonial expansion in the seventeenth century, entities such as the Dutch and British East India Companies required novel kinds of legal, political, economic and administrative work to hold their sprawling networks of people, objects, resources, activities and information together across borders.