Ending anonymous company ownership

Anonymous shell companies enable corruption, fraud, organised crime and tax evasion. The wider the access to high quality data on who owns what, the harder it will be for corrupt individuals to hide.

OpenOwnership drives greater corporate transparency across the world by making it easy to publish and access high-quality, linked data about who owns companies.

By leading the development of an open, global beneficial ownership data and policy ecosystem, we aim to create a new set of norms and end anonymous company ownership.

Why beneficial ownership matters

According to the World Bank, around 70% of corruption cases involve anonymous companies. They are also used to move illicit funds - from laundering money for human trafficking and the drug trade to funding terror groups and criminal gangs.

By masking the identities of criminals and tax evaders, shell companies inhibit the ability of law enforcement agencies, journalists and other civil society actors to investigate, expose and punish illegal activity.

This activity is global by default, as corporate structures cross jurisdictions in a deliberate effort to make discovering the true owners impossible. Individual countries holding and maintaining siloed registers of beneficial owners is not enough - this information has to be interlinked so that ownership relationships and financial flows can be tracked across different jurisdictions.

The more, and better quality, beneficial ownership data we have, the more expensive and difficult it will be for corrupt individuals to hide. This is good for governments, businesses, and wider society.

View our beneficial ownership resources

Our priorities

We are focused on three closely connected strategic priorities:

  1. Building the world’s first global, open beneficial ownership register and data standard. The OpenOwnership Register is an easy-to-use, cloud-based, platform that aggregates beneficial ownership information from multiple sources and makes it available for free to all, allowing for powerful global searches with just a couple of clicks. Information from more than 4.5 million companies is already available through the online portal. The Beneficial Ownership Data Standard is a conceptual and practical framework for collecting and publishing beneficial ownership data, making it a powerful cost-saving tool for implementers of beneficial ownership transparency.

  2. Supporting the implementation of beneficial ownership transparency. We are helping governments to implement beneficial ownership regimes, working across the spectrum of technical, administrative, and policy/regulatory issues that affect the ultimate usability of published data.

  3. Developing and sharing beneficial ownership best practice. Driving awareness of the benefits of high-quality beneficial ownership data, and growing demand for it, are vital to our mission. This means sharing research, case studies and best practice through our networks, at events and conferences, and with influencers in the public and private sectors.

Learn more about what we do

Support & Funding

OpenOwnership is driven by the leading transparency NGOs: Transparency International, Global Witness, ONE, the Web Foundation, Open Contracting Partnership, and the B Team, along with OpenCorporates, and initially funded by the Department for International Development (UK).