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.
The Bundesrat has today voted to recommend implementing a public register of the beneficial ownership of companies and trusts.
Great news from Germany, as the country takes an important step forward towards corporate transparency.
Second time lucky? About a year ago in Slovakia some opposition politicians pushed hard for a promising law to shed light onto anonymous ownership through shell companies. The Tax Justice Network supported their efforts by writing a letter to the Prime Minster at the time. Despite widespread public anger about corrupt practices, the law was blocked by the legislature. Now, after a second attempt the law has been passed, pretty much in its original form. This is great news.
An assistant to an opposition Member of the Slovak Parliament now takes up the story:
In our December 2016 Taxcast: In trusts we trust? We look at the new game in town: beneficial ownership avoidance, the booming industry in alternative escape vehicles from public registers and why we must shine the spotlight on all of them.
Plus: we discuss two big stories we think will define 2017: the race to the bottom between nations on tax aka a transfer of wealth to the corporate community, and how the world’s biggest havens are increasingly having to account for the devastating effect their tax and/or financial secrecy policies are having on human rights around the world… We also report from the appeal of tax justice heroes Antoine Deltour and Rapahel Halet in Luxembourg.
The Tax Justice Network has today released a new report: The case for registering trusts – and how to do it. Many people would have you believe that solving secrecy risks around trusts is impossibly complicated. Now we show it isn’t. Another objection often raised is that it’s not worth the cost. Well, we think it is. And not only that, but technology now makes it affordable. We release our report just as the EU Commission is discussing an amendment to the 4th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive regarding the registration of trusts and public disclosure.