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More on the Panama Papers
27 April 2016 @ 18:53

Panama Papers Increasing Transparency of Ownership

by Sandy Paterson

More countries sign up to beneficial ownership transparency

By Monira Matin International Adviser Website

Added 25th April 2016

The Isle of Man and Gibraltar are among a group of 22 jurisdictions that have signed up to an information-sharing initiative to combat tax evasion, while Australia is looking at creating a public register revealing the identities of the beneficial owners of shell companies.

Panama Papers

The moves follow a string of transparency measures proposed in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal which involved the leak of millions of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, uncovering how the rich and famous around the world use offshore companies to avoid paying tax in their home countries.

Beneficial ownership register

The Isle of Man and Gibraltar will join Europe’s five largest economies — Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain — who started the initiative earlier this month when they signed a deal setting up a confidential beneficial ownership register which would automatically share information on the ultimate owners of companies.

Other nations now signed up include the Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Finland, Slovakia, Latvia, Croatia, Belgium, Ireland, Cyprus, Slovenia, Denmark, Malta, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Portugal, Estonia, Greece, Czech Republic and Montserrat.

Australia

In the aftermath of the Panama Papers scandal, British prime minister David Cameron revealed that all crown dependencies and overseas territories will now provide company ownership data to UK tax and law enforcement authorities.

Cameron is expected to unveil further measures which will force offshore companies buying UK property to reveal their ultimate owners at a global anti-corruption summit in London next month. The UK register will be made public.

Ahead of the conference, due to be held on 12 May, Australia’s assistant treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer signalled to Guardian Australia that the country may follow the UK in creating its own publicly available beneficial ownership register after the Panama leak named more than 800 Australians.

If implemented, it would make Australia only the second major economy to set up this kind of public register after the UK.

“We agree there needs to be a registry of beneficial ownership in our country,” O’Dwyer said.

 “It does improve transparency. It means that the public and law enforcement agencies know who ultimately controls the company. It means it is a lot easier to expose wrongdoing or fraudulent conduct. It make it much easier to disrupt illicit financial flows and it makes it much, much harder to engage in tax avoidance.”

O’Dwyer said that although the country’s corporate watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), had powers to establish the identity of beneficial owners, she described current system as “clunky”.

Reprinted directly from the following article:

http://www.international-adviser.com/news/1028821/countries-sign-beneficial-ownership-transparency



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