The city of Sao Paulo, home to more than 11 million people including many of Brazil’s richest and poorest, has agreed to open up its property register to provide better transparency. This will make it easier for investigators and journalists to find out if corrupt people are investing in the local property market.
The decree by Fernando Haddad, mayor of Sao Paulo, is the result of a Cooperation Agreement between Sao Paulo and Transparency International, signed in 2014 when Cobus de Swardt, managing director of Transparency International visited the city.
“Sao Paulo is taking an important step to fight corruption which we applaud. Corrupt people who think that they can hide behind shell companies when they make property purchases and not declare who is benefitting from the deal will now face increased scrutiny,” said de Swardt.
As part of its Unmask the Corrupt campaign Transparency International has been advocating governments around the world mandate public registries of the beneficial owners of companies. This is an important way to stop the corrupt laundering illicit riches using shell companies to invest in property and other high-end goods.
“We are committed to further this initiative and apply best practices to combat corruption through transparency and openness of data in São Paulo,” said the Comptroller General of the City of São Paulo, Roberto Porto.
The campaign explains in detail why it is important to know the real owners of companies. The total amount of money and assets laundered worldwide in one year is estimated to be between US$800bn and US$2trillion. For example, in the UK more than US$250 million worth of property has been brought under criminal investigation as suspected proceeds of corruption since 2004. Over 75 per cent of these properties use shell companies.
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