A new EU initiative might make life miserable for corrupt individuals and companies to hide their identity behind a maze of anonymous shell companies. The new move might make it easier for investigators and the public to uncover the source and intended destination for funds stolen from the public or given and accepted as bribes for winning public contracts. Many secret companies are now being used to hide illicit funds.
By Taazakhabar News Bureau
In a move with far-reaching consequences, the European Union has agreed to create national registries that name the true owners of companies and trusts.
If the agreement is passed by the European Parliament next year, as seems likely, it will mean the end of secret companies in 28 European countries. There’s a catch, though.
The agreement states that these central registries will only be accessible by people or organisations with a “legitimate interest.” We think everyone has a legitimate interest to know who owns, controls or benefits from companies.
Because secret companies are used to hide the source or destination of illicit funds in so many global corruption cases, the legal advance is nevertheless significant. It will make it more difficult for corrupt individuals to hide their identity behind a maze of anonymous shell companies. It will also make it easier for investigators and the public to uncover the source and intended destination for funds that are stolen from the public or given and accepted as bribes for winning public contracts.
Transparency International, has welcomed the new landmark legislation to tackle money laundering through secret companies in the EU. However, it is concerned that the final legislation will fall short of full transparency of the real “beneficial” owners behind companies and trusts demanded by anti-corruption activists worldwide. The identities of many individuals involved in grand corruption have been concealed through the use of anonymous companies, trusts and other entities.