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Monday, October 22 • 3:30pm - 5:30pm
Towards a Global Norm of Beneficial Ownership Transparency

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Secretly owned companies, where the identity of the real owners – the ‘beneficial owners’ – are unknown, are the favoured getaway vehicles of the corrupt. According to World Bank research[1], these companies are used 70% of the time to launder the proceeds of grand corruption. These companies also enable fraud, tax evasion, organised crime and terrorist financing, at great cost to citizens, particularly in the developing world. There is increasing realisation that transparency of beneficial ownership is a critical tool to prevent and tackle corruption and other illicit financial flows; and as a global issue, there must be a global effort to eliminate the secrecy that provides a safe haven for corrupt money.
In the last three years, there have been significant moves towards greater global transparency:
  • The G7 and G20 have made transparency in beneficial ownership a key priority;
  • At the London Anti-Corruption Summit in May 2016, 38 countries made commitments to improve beneficial ownership transparency[2], several of which included commitments to national public registers;
  • Beneficial ownership transparency became a requirement of the EITI Standard for all oil, gas and mining companies in over 50 countries;
  • The European Union is requiring all member states to establish public registers;
  • Countries, including Denmark, Ghana, Norway, the UK, Ukraine and Zambia, have passed national legislation enabling beneficial ownership transparency and are working towards, or already have established, public registers; and
  • The World Bank is publishing the beneficial owners of any company winning a contract on any large Bank-funded project from 2018.                                                                                                                                              
However, international architecture lags behind these developments, and the capacity, tools and technical assistance needed to develop national and public beneficial ownership registers are not yet in place.

This session asks how these obstacles can be overcome and what the challenges are at a country level in creating national registers and making them public. Looking further ahead, it asks what is needed to achieve a global norm of beneficial ownership transparency and how can we harness international and national leadership to this end?

  [1]Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative Puppet Masters: how the corrupt use legal structures to hide stolen assets and what to do about it (2011)
  [2] Including Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States.  



John Penrose

MP, UK Anti-Corruption Champion

avatar for Geoff Healy

Geoff Healy

Chief External Affairs Officer, BHP
As Chief External Affairs Officer, Geoff has global accountability for BHP’s risk and reputation, including sustainability and public policy, compliance, health and safety, government relations, communications and internal audit. Geoff joined BHP as Chief Legal Counsel in June 2013... Read More →
avatar for Gabriela Ramos

Gabriela Ramos

Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Gabriela Ramos is the OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20. Besides supporting the Strategic Agenda of the Secretary General, she is responsible for the contributions of the Organisation to the global agenda, including the G20 and the G7. She leads the Inclusive Growth Initiative... Read More →

Fredrik Reinfeldt

Chair of the Board, EITI

Olena Sukmanova

First Deputy Minister of Justice, Ukraine

Workshop Coordinators

Sylvia Bluck

Governance Adviser, Anti-Corruption Team, Governance, Open Societies and Anti-Corruption Department, Department for International Development, United Kingdom

Monday October 22, 2018 3:30pm - 5:30pm CEST
Workshop Room 9
  High Level Open Session, Panel Debate
  • Organiser Department for International Development, United Kingdom