April 29, 2022
Countries around the world are committing to the introduction, or strengthening, of beneficial ownership transparency. The publication of the names of the real owners of companies, trusts and land increase trust in economies and make it harder for criminals, terrorists or tax-evaders to hide behind corporate structures.
The invasion in February 2022, of Ukraine by Russia, and the global call for sanctions on the billionaires who have enabled the invasion has bought the need for registers of beneficial ownership into focus. The ability to understand who owns a piece of property or a shell company is critical to the enforcement of these sanctions.
Many jurisdictions have been on the path of policy reform and legislation to enable these changes. The speed of these changes has varied. The current crisis has spurred action, and many citizens are looking to their governments to take positive action to ensure compliance with global expectations.
Open Ownership, a non-profit organisation working with partners worldwide in governments, businesses, civil society organisations, academia, and the media to bring ownership information into the open, is tracking 113 countries that have committed to beneficial ownership transparency.
Transparency International welcomed the adoption of a revised global standard on beneficial ownership transparency as a major step to curb dirty money. The new standard, announced in March 2022 by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), makes it easier for the international community to block corrupt officials and kleptocrats who use secretive corporate structures to exploit the global financial system.
There is debate in some jurisdictions on whether beneficial ownership information should be held centrally in a single register, and on whether countries make their registers searchable by additional stakeholders and the public. Organisations such as Open Ownership and Transparency International argue that these registers must be public to allow civil society to identify future reform areas expose and counter cross-border financial crime.
The beneficial ownership register itself is only useful if it is accessible. Either by regulators or, as is argued, or by the public. Equally important is the ease of capturing the information needed for the register and in keeping that information up to date. Electronic registries are the obvious choice.
Foster Moore – The registry people, is a specialist registry software company. For two decades the team at Foster Moore has developed and maintained online business registry systems, and a host of other smaller electronic registries across the globe.
Our work with the New Zealand Companies Office commenced at the very early stages of their initiative to deliver the world’s first online companies register. Since developing the worlds’ first fully-electronic online business registry in 1996, Foster Moore has designed and built over thirty different types of registers. Our registry solutions power business registries in 21 jurisdictions across the globe. We have implementations in North America, South East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Pacific and New Zealand.
Developed in line with the Open Ownership data standard and leveraging off our unsurpassed business registry experience, Foster Moore’s Verne® Beneficial Ownership product enables business registries to rapidly deploy a compliant, easy to use beneficial ownership register.
Verne® is a Registry Aware® platform that delivers a powerful suite of tools to government registries, enabling them to provide accurate, timely and trusted data to the business and legal community.
Foster Moore has offices in Auckland NZ, Brisbane Australia, Cary USA and Toronto, Canada.