A public register

Principle 1: Beneficial ownership data should be accessible to the public via a central register

Having a centralised public beneficial ownership register means that law enforcement, businesses, journalists and citizens from around the world can easily access information on the beneficial ownership of companies, subject to relevant privacy laws. Having widespread third party use on data can drive up data quality, and increasing the user base beyond authorities will increase impact. For instance, publicly available beneficial ownership data can reduce the cost and complexity of due diligence and risk management for the private sector, thereby leveling the playing field and increasing competitiveness.

The utility of a public register is enhanced when the data is available online, in a structured format, and without use of barriers such as registration or payment. This also allows registers to be linked with other datasets, which helps realise the utility of beneficial ownership data to expose transnational networks of illicit financial flows and support effective and timely due diligence.


Briefing: The case for beneficial ownership as open data

Open data is digital “structured” or “machine-readable” data that is “made available with the technical and legal characteristics necessary for it to be freely used, reused, and redistributed by anyone, anytime, anywhere.” In other words, any user of open beneficial ownership data should be able to access the data, search it freely and/or download it as structured data – for example, a .csv file that can be imported into Excel – , and use it for any purpose.

Inherent in this definition is that the data should be accessible to the public, which we cover in another briefing (“The case for public beneficial ownership data”). Here, we briefly cover the benefits of publishing beneficial ownership as structured data.

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Briefing: The case for public beneficial ownership registers

Many jurisdictions around the world are considering implementing public registers of benefcial ownership. Here, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions by policymakers and implementers about public benefcial ownership data.

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