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Organised crime, corruption and money-laundering:  European Parliament Report - what next?

Today, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) paved the way for a Europe-wide Action Plan to combat organised crime, corruption and money-laundering, with a new report that highlights the anti-corruption priorities for the next mandate of the European Parliament and European Commission [1].

Transparency International EU joins the European Parliament in its call to establish national registers of those who ultimately own and control companies, which will help to prevent the laundering of the proceeds of corruption in the future. MEPs will have an opportunity to turn their words into action when they vote on revisions to the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive next month, where the public nature of the registers is one of the crucial issues [2].

“It is still unclear whether MEPs are in favour of only limited access to such data or whether such information should be available to the public,” says Carl Dolan, Acting Director of Transparency International’s EU Office. “Allowing the public to scrutinise detailed information on ownership will help stop the criminal misuse of corporate structures and other legal entities.” [3]

Most countries have several public and commercial business registries in place that collect an array of information on companies incorporated in their jurisdiction. However, this information is disparate, varied, not well consolidated, and differs in terms of what is publicly available.

Detailed information can usually be accessed by Financial Intelligence Units, Law Enforcement Agencies and Asset Recovery Agencies upon request. However, this access to information is only as good as the information collected by the registrar. Today, as much as 77% of EU Business Registries do not even collect the names of the real beneficial owners of companies.

The European Commission says that requiring business registers to include beneficial ownership information would cost EU governments €15-30 million a year, but in return they would recover €14-20 million in assets and around €50 million in extra tax revenue that would otherwise have drained away.

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Notes to editors:

[1] The European Parliament set up the Special Committee on Organised Crime, Corruption and Money-Laundering (CRIM) in March 2011 to analyse the impact of trans-border crimes on the EU and its 28 member states. The published CRIM Committee Report aims at the development of a comprehensive EU strategy to effectively combat criminal systems and related activities, including corruption and money-laundering. Other measures in the EP Report, that Transparency International has also highlighted in a study as corruption risk hotspots across Europe, call for E-procurement procedures to better prevent fraud and corruption; EU legislation on the protection of whistleblowers in the public and private sector (by the end of 2013); and publication of a country-by-country registry of beneficial owners to combat money-laundering, tax evasion and terrorist financing.

[2] The European Commission published proposals to amend the third EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive in February 2013. The European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee is due to consider and vote on these proposals early in 2014.

[3] Today’s comment by the Transparency International-EU Office: “Anti-Money Laundering: Opening up ownership


For any press enquiries please contact

Media contact
Carl Dolan
T:+32 (0) 2 23 58 603
E:brussels@transparency.org

Ronny Patz
T:+32 (0) 2 23 58 640
E:rpatz@transparency.org