Nowhere to hide: Realising the potential of beneficial ownership reform


Beneficial ownership is widely recognised as an essential piece of information for tackling corruption, preventing and investigating tax evasion, protecting national security, and creating sustainable trading environments. The next five years are critical to delivering impact on these agendas.

The goal – shared by many governments, businesses, and citizens – is that people can access accurate and high-quality information on the true owners of companies, and effectively use this to reduce known risks, such as corruption and tax evasion, and create a more sustainable business environment.

Over 100 countries have committed to beneficial ownership transparency in at least one sector of their economy.

Source: Open Ownership 2021

To reach this goal, collective action is required from the global community of beneficial ownership reformers.

  • Effective and context-sensitive implementation of beneficial ownership commitments is needed to deliver an ecosystem of high-quality data across a critical mass of countries.
  • Robust new evidence is needed to advance debates on issues such as balancing privacy and public access, and how to verify data held in beneficial ownership registers.
  • The use of data needs to be scaled up to realise the potential of beneficial ownership reforms as a cornerstone of 21st century governance.

In the coming years, countries around the world will continue to face and adapt to economic, social, and environmental pressures; the urgency to systemically tackle the use of anonymously-owned companies has never been greater.

The vision is simple: that there is nowhere to hide. With strategic collective action, we can realise a future where anonymous companies can no longer be used to facilitate corruption and money laundering, undermine national security, and enable tax evasion. This is crucial for ensuring that tax revenues benefit citizens, that all businesses can trade safely on a level playing field, and that societal trust is enhanced through transparency on who owns and controls companies.

Next page: 2022: A year of action