Canada has passed landmark legislation to create a national public beneficial ownership register.
Bill C-42 received royal assent on 2 November 2023. It amends the Canada Business Corporations Act to require companies to make details about the real people who own or control corporations public.
Politicians sponsoring the bill have committed to using Open Ownership’s Beneficial Ownership Data Standard to structure the data collected, noting that this will let the register “communicate with and speak the same technical language as beneficial ownership registries around the world, as well as with our provincial and federal authorities”.
Beneficial ownership information is used across jurisdictions to investigate corruption and the flow of money. When this data is structured, it can be more easily connected with information in other registers and with other datasets from across the world, and more easily exchanged. In other words, it is interoperable, and interoperable data helps to reduce corruption risks and deepen data analysis, which leads to novel anti-corruption insights and real-life impact.
Around 15% of companies in Canada are registered with the federal government, and the Canadian government hopes that provincial governments will also align in using the same data standard. Quebec and British Columbia already have public beneficial ownership registers.
Welcoming the news on X (formerly Twitter), Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne said: “With the coming into force of Bill C-42, we will now be able to: increase corporate transparency and accountability; prevent illicit activities such as money laundering and tax evasion; launch a public beneficial ownership registry.”
“We will now be able to: increase corporate transparency and accountability; prevent illicit activities such as money laundering and tax evasion; launch a public beneficial ownership registry.” - François-Philippe Champagne
This action follows years of campaigning by the ‘End Snow-washing’ Coalition, whose members include Publish What You Pay Canada, Transparency International Canada, and Canadians For Tax Fairness.
Sasha Caldera, Beneficial Ownership Campaign Manager at Publish What You Pay Canada, said: "We applaud Canada’s Senate and Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, François-Philippe Champagne for championing this bill. A publicly accessible and searchable registry can deter billions of illicit funds from entering Canada through federal companies each year.
"Money laundering is the lifeline for criminal activity, the fentanyl crisis, and foreign interference. Canada will soon have a powerful tool that will strengthen the integrity of its economy."
Open Ownership’s Deputy Executive Director Louise Russell-Prywata will be in Canada later in November and will join Transparency International Canada’s 2023 Day of Dialogue to discuss beneficial ownership transparency in the country and globally.
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