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After the Panama Papers, Europe can’t go back to business as usual

Ahead of today’s meeting of European Union member states, proposed transparency amendments to the EU Anti Money Laundering Directive that would have given the public access to beneficial ownership information were dropped. The wording of the agreement reached today reads: “a coherent legal framework that ensures better access to information regarding beneficial ownership of trusts and similar legal arrangements once they are registered across the Union.”

Reacting to the announcement, Chris Taggart, CEO of OpenCorporates and advisor to OpenOwnership, the world’s first open register of global beneficial ownership data in the public interest, said:

“It’s not even been one year since the Panama Papers scandal and we’re already going back to business as usual. We have seen the results of disclosing beneficial ownership information privately on an honour system and it’s obvious that this hasn’t been good enough to fight corruption, tax evasion and other financial crimes.

“The case for a public, open beneficial ownership register is clear: we cannot crack down on financial crime if no one is watching. Public registers allow citizens to verify the facts, for example the asset declarations of politically exposed persons - a vital tool for sustaining trust in democracy. We’ve seen major momentum build for full transparency from governments, businesses, civil society alike – why would the EU not want to be on the forefront of this progress?

“EU member states including the UK, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, France and Germany have seen the value in public beneficial ownership data and have committed to making it available. We are confident we can work with governments to make this happen in compliance with data protection rules.”

-ENDS-

To request an interview, please contact Zosia Sztykowski.

About OpenOwnership OpenOwnership is building the world’s first open register of global beneficial ownership in the public interest - mapping who controls and benefits from companies. The register is being created by a consortium of leading transparency and anti-corruption organisations, and will enable governments to crack down on crime, allow companies to verify who they are really doing business with and empower civil society to investigate and campaign against injustice.

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