About the project

OpenOwnership is driven by a steering group composed of leading transparency NGOs, including Global Witness, Open Contracting Partnership, Web Foundation, Transparency International, the ONE Campaign, and the B Team, as well as OpenCorporates.

OpenOwnership’s central goal is to build an open Global Beneficial Ownership Register, which will serve as an authoritative source of data about who owns companies, for the benefit of all. This data will be global and linked across jurisdictions, industries, and linkable to other datasets too.

Alongside the register, OpenOwnership is developing a universal and open data standard for beneficial ownership, providing a solid conceptual and practical foundation for collecting and publishing beneficial ownership data.

OpenOwnership’s project coordinator, Zosia Sztykowski, is happy to hear from organizations and individuals who are interested in getting involved. Drop her an email.

History

In recent years, global society has come to understand the importance of corporate transparency. The Panama Papers, high-profile corruption and tax avoidance scandals, and more have caused a radical shift in the stories we tell about anonymous corporations. It is clearer than ever that this anonymity is often a cloak for nefarious or criminal activities like corruption and money laundering.

OpenOwnership believes that making information about who owns companies public is critical to tracking the flows of illicit funds and tackling corruption. Increasingly, far-sighted governments such as the UK, law enforcement and socially responsible businesses agree.

Following the announcement of public registries of beneficial ownership from the UK, Norway and the Netherlands, 11 other countries committed at the UK’s Anti-Corruption Summit in May 2016 to making this information available. Even where progress is slow on the national level, sector-specific projects such as the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative or development bodies such as the World Bank are taking charge and adopting public beneficial ownership requirements.

Transparency around corporate control and ownership is not just essential to tackling corruption, but also as a foundation for building business integrity. The benefits to businesses are clear: they can better vet prospective partners, clients or suppliers by requiring them to self-submit data, use the data to enhance due diligence and manage risk exposure, and highlight their own contributions as socially responsible businesses.

Incrementally, our collective action, along with those of our partners, will shift norms around corporate transparency and make it more difficult for corrupt individuals to hide.