Open Ownership submits this comment to the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), in response to its consultation on Corporate Transparency and Register Reform.
Open Ownership’s mission is to make knowledge about who owns & controls companies open and impactful. To achieve this, beneficial ownership data in corporate registers and other company ownership databases around the world needs to be standardised, linked and free to access.
To help meet these needs, Open Ownership offers a set of free and unique tools, to use separately or together:
- an open source Standard (BODS), a template for publishing company ownership and control data as structured data;
- an open data Register that shows links in open company ownership data globally;
- a help service, for groups using the Standard or Register at scale, to increase free access by scaling use of the Standard and Register.
Summary of responses:
Without verification, the potential of beneficial ownership data as an anti-money laundering tool will be lost. We suggest that the government approach its reforms from a holistic perspective, wherein verification represents a series of linked technical and administrative strategies. Companies House should be empowered to carry out these strategies. These are:
- Verifying data about people using digital process, including by comparing Companies House data at delivery with other data sets. We also propose sharing information with foreign governments as needed to verify information about foreign nationals.
- Verifying data about relationships between people and companies, by requiring declaring companies to share the details of their corporate structure.
- Empowering Companies House to conduct risk-based red flagging using algorithmic methods and to refer those red flags to investigative agencies.
- Empowering users to raise red flags and instituting a system of administrative sanctions to require flagged PSCs to show evidence of their beneficial ownership.