Building an auditable record of beneficial ownership


Publication type
Technical guidance


Opening Extractives


Open Ownership Principles
Up to date and auditable

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This technical guidance from the Opening Extractives programme shows five features that implementers should bear in mind if they want to create good auditable records of beneficial ownership.

The short briefing shows just how important it is to keep historical information about companies, as it helps uncover links. For example, keeping and publishing historical records prevents an entity from obscuring its identity by changing its name, or a beneficial owner to hide by removing themselves from ownership records. Historical and auditable records are also critical for law enforcement to verify ownership chains, apply sanctions for non-compliance, and share data that is interoperable with other agencies, like tax revenue departments, and those investigating international financial crime.

The thinking set out here will inform future updates to the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard.

Key recommendations

  • Registers should capture crucial dates for changes and should format these in line with internationally recognised standards such as ISO 8601.
  • Good-quality unique identifiers should be provided for people and entities so that changes in beneficial ownership can be connected to the correct records.
  • When changes are made to beneficial ownership records, data should be captured about who is updating the information and what type of change is being made.
  • If information is missing from beneficial ownership records, registers should be able to capture the reasons why it is missing, rather than just leaving a gap.
  • Publishers could release an instruction manual for any source of beneficial ownership data to help answer questions from data users.
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