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As Financial Crimes Grow during the Pandemic, Accounting Groups Address Key Piece of AML Action

Report from CPA Canada and IFAC analyzes best approaches to beneficial ownership transparency

May 26, 2020 | English

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 the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) today published a report that explores 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.

“Beneficial ownership information, which identifies who has controlling ownership of an entity, is important to the discovery of financial crimes,” said CPA Canada President and CEO Joy Thomas. “Enhancing the transparency of this information should strengthen anti-money laundering regimes and help in seeking out lawbreakers and their proceeds of crime.”

The report, “Approaches to Beneficial Ownership Transparency: The Global Framework and Views from the Accounting Profession”, 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.

“The global accountancy profession, with its strong public interest mandate, is a committed partner in the fight against financial crime,” said Kevin Dancey, IFAC CEO. “We are eager to advance important policy conversations, including those over beneficial ownership, and to work meaningfully alongside governments, law enforcement and other stakeholders to combat financial crime in all its forms.”

With this report, the authors offer considered insights on the most effective ways to comply with international anti-money laundering standards. To view the first report, visit:

About IFAC
The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) is the global organization for the accountancy profession dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies. IFAC is comprised of more than 175 members and associates in more than 130 countries and jurisdictions, representing more than 3 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce.

About CPA Canada
Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) represents the Canadian accounting profession, both nationally and internationally. Operating in the highly complex and global accounting ecosystem, CPA Canada is a convener, facilitator, contributor and disseminator of information that advances the profession. The organization works closely with the provincial, territorial and Bermudan CPA bodies to champion best practices that benefit business and society. With more than 217,000 members, CPA Canada is one of the largest national accounting bodies in the world. The organization supports the setting of accounting, auditing and assurance standards, advocates for economic and social development in the public interest, and develops leading-edge thought leadership, research, guidance and educational programs.

For more information:
Perry Jensen
Media Relations Manager
Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada
Tel: 416-204-3941
Cell: 647-807-4798

Geena De Rose
IFAC Communications
Tel: 646-277-9390