Taking the first steps toward a global and open register of beneficial ownership
The past year has seen huge strides towards ending the opacity of who anonymous companies, so beloved by criminals, corrupt politicians and tax evaders to mask their activities. The UK published the first public register of who controls companies, numerous other countries committed to doing the same, and sectorial initiatives such as EITI pledged to collect and publish data on who controls and benefits from companies.
These are great first steps but more needs to be done if we are going to surface connections and flag corruption risks. As it stands, all of these datasets would be siloed and the quality of data would differ for each jurisdiction. To make this data searchable and comparable across multiple jurisdictions, they need to be collected and collated into a single place (this is after all on information about cross-border networks of companies).
That’s where Open Ownership comes in. We have been set up by the leading transparency and anti-corruption organisations* to create a truly open global beneficial ownership register. When it is fully developed, the register will provide a single window to search, combine and link the incoming global data sets.
We’re also going two steps further. First, we want to enable progressive companies who want to self-report their corporate structure to do so through the register. Second, we are developing an open data standard that will help governments collect beneficial ownership information and link to other databases such as public contracts through the Open Contracting Data Standard. The platform itself will also reduce the technical barriers to governments, who can ask companies to submit data through our platform.
But the creation of such a register cannot and should not be done in isolation. We need procurement officers, businesses, due diligence experts, civil society, investigative journalists, lawyer, accountants and others to help us design the register. There are opportunities for all stakeholders to get involved. Contact us today to help us make the register of global beneficial ownership information a success.
*These include Global Witness, Open Contracting Partnership, Web Foundation, Transparency International, and the B Team, as well as OpenCorporates.
Related articles and publications
Using DuckDB to query beneficial ownership data in Parquet files
Our open source beneficial ownership data analysis tools help anyone wanting to examine and dive into ownership data published in line with the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard. You can now use DuckDB to query beneficial ownership data sets
Published: 07 June 2023
More work needed to make France’s beneficial ownership data easy to use
More work is needed to make France’s beneficial ownership data easy to use. With the hope of encouraging collaborative improvements to the register and making it easier for people to use the data, we want to share some of the access and data quality issues we experienced
Published: 02 June 2023
Who really owns it? What investigations using ownership data can tell us
Opening Extractives has been training investigative journalists and civil society partners to aid understanding as to how simple and complex ownership structures operate transnationally. They will share their findings during our Open Gov Week webinar on 9 May: "Who really owns it? Using company ownership data for investigations"
Published: 05 May 2023
Open Ownership Register