Robust definitions

Beneficial Ownership should be clearly and robustly defined in law, with low thresholds used to determine when ownership and control is disclosed

  1. Robust and clear definitions of beneficial ownership should cover all relevant forms of ownership and control.
  2. Low thresholds for triggering BO disclosure should be used so that most, or all, people with beneficial ownership and control interests are included in disclosures.
  3. Particular consideration should be given to thresholds that apply to ownership by politically exposed persons (PEPs), with a clear definition used to determine what constitutes a PEP.
  4. Absolute values, rather than ranges, should be used when reporting the percentage of ownership or control that a beneficial owner has.

Clearly defining beneficial ownership and ensuring it covers all relevant forms of ownership and control makes the disclosure regime less vulnerable to exploitation by those seeking to abuse the system. A disclosure regime should have a single definition which, at a minimum, (1) specifies that a BO must be a natural person, (2) covers both ownership and control interests, and (3) encompasses both indirect and direct interests. A good definition is likely to combine a catch-all general description of beneficial ownership, complemented by a non-exhaustive list of examples in which these can be held, taking into account the local context.

Using low thresholds to determine ownership or control reduces the risk that someone with relevant ownership or control remains hidden. While extremely low thresholds may become too labour or cost intensive without providing useful insight into significant ownership or control, using thresholds that are too high can create a potential loophole that can be exploited.

Particular consideration should be given to the thresholds that apply to PEPs with ownership or control interests. Lower thresholds may be warranted for PEPs to be disclosed as beneficial owners based on the increased corruption risk associated with them.

Rather than ranges, collecting absolute values when disclosing the percentage of ownership or control assists users in understanding how ownership or control is held. This is particularly important when ownership or control is held indirectly. Where possible, definitions should be harmonised regionally and internationally, or similar minimum standards should be adopted.


Beneficial Ownership Policy Reviewer

There are a number of aspects that need to be considered when designing a legal framework for beneficial ownership transparency. The Policy Reviewer works through these aspects, and guides implementers to identify specific decision points around what data is to be collected and what is to be published. The Policy Reviewer does not prescribe a particular policy approach, but is designed to help implementers to explore the relevant areas and identify legal changes required for beneficial ownership transparency.

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Example Paper Forms for Collecting Beneficial Ownership Data

This document provides example forms to guide officials tasked with developing paper forms to collect beneficial ownership information.

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Implementation Guide

A step-by-step guide to implementing beneficial ownership transparency.

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