The IFC Forum welcomes the Anti-Corruption Summit’s commitment to improving the accuracy of beneficial ownership information available to tax and law enforcement authorities. Data verification is required to effectively combat crime and corruption.
For over a decade the British Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories have collected information on the ultimate beneficial owners of local companies and trusts. Comprehensive and systematic beneficial ownership identification and verification is conducted by licensed and supervised trust and company service providers. Data is accessible by the governments for law and tax enforcement purposes, including in response to requests by foreign governments.
The British Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories have agreed to establish central registers or similar mechanisms to allow government access to this shareholder data. Following this implementation, they will be the only jurisdictions in the world with verified beneficial ownership information available through central government access.
The task now is for other governments to meet the standards and commitments already made by the British Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories.
IFC Forum Counsel Richard Hay said: “Criminals establishing companies for fraudulent purposes will not abide by the honour system. The Summit communiqué calls for accurate information to be available, but without verification, the only accurate information on share registers will be from law-abiding citizens. Countries need to move further and require that shareholder data collected in registries be verified to Financial Action Task Force standards.”