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Public Central Register of Beneficial Ownership

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Estimated Completion, June 2016

The UK Government has legislated to ensure that, from June 2016, we will be the first G20 country to establish a publicly accessible central registry showing who really owns and controls UK companies. This will open up a new era of corporate transparency in Britain and will help us to tackle corruption.

Public Registers of Beneficial Ownership Information - setting the standard

THE PROBLEM

It is common for corrupt individuals to use a global web of anonymous companies, trusts and other legal entities situated across multiple jurisdictions to transfer and hide their illicitly sourced funds. These structures shroud the identity of the individuals who own and control companies and other legal entities. Illicit money is laundered through the UK, and then used to fund luxury lifestyles.

Layers of secrecy facilitated by secret company ownership prevent effective investigations by police and checks by those working in sectors such as property. This means that UK assets can be acquired anonymously and anti-money laundering checks can be bypassed with relative ease.

Public registers of the real owners of companies – the beneficial owners- have been a central demand in the fight against corruption, money-laundering and corporate secrecy.

WHAT HAPPENED AT THE SUMMIT

In the Summit communique, leaders agreed to

“…take steps to eliminate loopholes that allow corruption to thrive through the misuse of these entities, and work, in accordance with national law, to ensure a level playing field between foreign and domestic companies in respect of requirements to provide beneficial ownership information.”

At the Anti-Corruption Summit the UK stated that ‘the UK’s public central register of company beneficial ownership information for all companies incorporated in the UK will be launched in June 2016.”

Then-Prime Minister David Cameron said that public registers of beneficial ownership information were the “gold standard”, and every country should ultimately aim to have them.

The UK’s public register of beneficial ownership information was published at the end of June 2016, and was the first of its kind in the world.