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Technical guide: implementing the G20 beneficial ownership principles

In 2014, G20 leaders adopted High-Level Principles on Beneficial Ownership Transparency, describing financial transparency as a “high priority” issue. The G20 principles draw on the G8 Action Plan Principles to Prevent the Misuse of Companies and Legal Arrangements, adopted in the United Kingdom in 2013. The adoption of the G20 principles just one year later dramatically increased both the number and diversity of countries that have signalled their commitment at the highest political level to tackle beneficial ownership secrecy.

The G20 principles build upon the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, the current global standards for anti-money laundering. However the principles offer flexibility for G20 countries to implement them according to their own legal frameworks. In order for the principles to be most effective in tackling money laundering, they must be implemented as soon as possible. Equally, the language that provides for flexibility between different jurisdictions should not be misinterpreted to allow countries to settle for standards that fall to the lowest common denominator.

This technical guide takes each of the 10 G20 principles in turn and describes the current applicable international standards. In cases where the principles provide for flexibility in regard to interpretation and implementation, or in cases where Transparency International considers that the standards may not be sufficiently strong, the additional steps that countries should take in order for a principle to be implemented most effectively are also stated. At the end of each section, a summary of recommendations on how to implement the principle is provided.