On International Anti-Corruption Day, Transparency International EU highlights that the EU is at a critical moment to tackle illicit financial flows. The final negotiation meeting for the revision of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive approaches on 16 December, which could require the setting up of public registers of beneficial ownership (the ultimate owners behind companies and trusts). This would be a historic first and a major contribution to the fight against corruption and money laundering. With global detection rates for illicit funds by law enforcement as low as 1 percent for criminal proceeds and the seizure rate estimated at 0.2 per cent (UNODC, 2011), clearly the current system isn’t working.
Making beneficial ownership information public would:
- allow businesses to know who are behind their partners
- support banks in their due diligence efforts
- allow for immediate access by law enforcement (also in developing countries)
- allow the public to scrutinise the data and weed out false information
We urge the EU Finance Ministers meeting today to go on the record in their support for public registers of beneficial owners (see joint CSO letter). Several Member States already support this measure for companies including the UK, France, Italy, Austria and most recently Denmark. In March this year the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of public registers (643 votes to 30). With the next revision of the Anti-Money laundering Directive at least a decade away, this is an opportunity the EU can’t afford to miss.
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