Connecting hidden relationships in shell companies using the Open Ownership Register and Black Ice’s SARA

  • Publication date: 24 July 2023
  • Author: Scott Uehlinger
SARA tool image

Guest blog post

In this era of globalisation of financial crime, many nations are concerned about the abuse of shell companies in jurisdictions without company ownership disclosure requirements. Shell companies operating in such areas can facilitate corruption and tax evasion - robbing nations of fair development opportunities and damaging national reputations and the rule of law.

Open Ownership (OO)’s mission is driving the global shift towards transparency over who owns and controls such corporate vehicles. OO enables beneficial ownership disclosures which are accurate and complete, disclosures which are made possible by adoption of Open Ownership’s Beneficial Ownership Data Standard (BODS).

Over 130 countries are now committed to implementing beneficial ownership transparency reforms. Beneficial ownership transparency is gaining momentum globally, and countries are finding it more advantageous than ever to undertake the reforms necessary to be taken off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list.

One tool which can be used in conjunction with Open Ownership’s BODS is Black Ice AI’s SARA (Suspicious Activity Risk Awareness). This plug-and-play, realtime AI (artificial intelligence) tool powered by Senzing's entity resolution technology brings together data from multiple sources (including the Open Ownership Register) to resolve entities and relationships.

SARA’s platform can incorporate databases such as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Offshore Leaks, Dow Jones' Watchlist, Moody’s Orbis, OpenCorporates and AuthID with a customer’s internal databases to effect a complete solution. The client can also assign each database a risk score based on internal criteria.

SARA employs advanced visual analytic capabilities developed by Black Ice - empowering investigators with much-needed insight into networks which continue to gain greater sophistication and opacity. With SARA, an investigator can trace assets, discover ultimate beneficial ownership details and - importantly - identify hidden risks and obscure relationship networks.

The values of resolving Open Ownership’s data within SARA include:

  1. Improved matching accuracy;
  2. Smarter investigations; and
  3. Enhanced data management.

As a plug-and-play, real-time entity resolution system, SARA’s use of pre-configured default principles means it is ready for operation on day one and system installation can be performed in days or weeks. SARA’s purpose-built AI is able to make human-intelligent decisions on both extremely small and extremely large data sets, without system pre–training or tuning. Furthermore, SARA gets smarter over time as it autonomously learns and adapts in real time.

One of Open Ownership’s Principles for effective beneficial ownership disclosure is that producing beneficial ownership data which is structured allows it to be more easily analysed and linked with other datasets. This enhances its ability to expose transnational networks of illicit financial flows and support effective and timely due diligence. Black Ice’s SARA programme is a tool that can be used in conjunction with Open Ownership’s data to link and analyse multiple data sets, potentially recover lost revenue, and aid nations in their efforts to be taken off the FATF grey list.

  • Open Ownership works with a broad range of data users to use the BODS and beneficial ownership information more broadly. Working with private sector actors does not constitute an endorsement of their commercial products, and Open Ownership does not endorse SARA or any other specific products to use beneficial ownership data.

  • Scott Uehlinger is the Director of Special Projects at Black Ice AI. Anyone interested in learning more about the SARA tool can download a pitch deck with more information or email Scott Uehlinger from Black Ice ([email protected]) or Stephen Abbott Pugh from Open Ownership ([email protected]).

Join our upcoming tech showcase

Scott will also be joining the next Open Ownership tech showcase on Thursday 21st September. Register now via Zoom to join this free demonstration session on this and other tools.