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Approaches to Beneficial Ownership Transparency: The Global Framework and Views from the Accountancy Profession

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As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented sums of relief money moving across the global economy, the threat of financial crimes and malfeasance continues to grow. In this context, CPA Canada and IFAC publish this report exploring a key facet of uncovering and fighting illegal activities: beneficial ownership transparency. The fight against money laundering, corruption and tax evasion requires the participation of several stakeholders, including accountants, who rely on strong legal frameworks and accurate information.

The report contributes to the global conversation as countries grapple with questions regarding the extent to which, and by whom, beneficial ownership information is collected, reviewed and made available. Central to this discussion is the concept of beneficial ownership registers and registries.

In examining how various countries are complying with the recommendations from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on transparency and beneficial ownership information, and with the perspectives of senior accounting leaders across the globe, the report finds that:

  • Establishing a public beneficial ownership registry does not immediately ensure that a country’s law enforcement and other agencies have access to accurate information in a timely manner. 
  • In several jurisdictions, the move to a public registry has been a phased approach, starting with non-public registries and then transitioning to public registries; and
  • Verifying information and ensuring appropriate levels of access are key factors in a registry’s efficacy.
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