Having a centralised beneficial ownership register means that people and authorities can access information on the beneficial ownership of companies through one central location in a standardised format. This is a prerequisite for effective use of beneficial ownership data by all user groups, as it removes some of the practical and cost barriers to accessing and analysing beneficial ownership information.
Maintaining a central register of beneficial ownership is one of three complementary approaches identified by the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as best practice. Analysis of FATF country evaluations clearly demonstrates the importance of central registers for reducing money laundering risk: countries maintaining a central register – as opposed to relying on other decentralised approaches where companies and other institutions hold beneficial ownership data – perform better against FATF’s requirement to ensure timely access to adequate, accurate, and up to date information on the beneficial ownership of companies.
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.
The UK was the first country in the world to commit to making beneficial ownership transparent. In 2016 it launched its public beneficial ownership – or Persons of Significant Control (PSC) – register. PSC data is widely used, and has been critical in investigations into financial crime and terrorism-related offences. This report provides details of the UK’s approach and case studies of the impact it has had.