Having a centralised BO register means that people and authorities can access information on the BO of companies through one central location in a standardised format. This is a prerequisite for effective use of BO data by all user groups, as it removes some of the practical and cost barriers to accessing and analysing BO information.
Maintaining a central BO register is one of three complementary approaches identified as best practice by the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF). 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 BO data – perform better against the FATF’s requirement to ensure timely access to adequate, accurate, and up-to-date information on the BO of companies.
This OO Principle is particularly relevant in the following aspects of implementation. These correspond to steps in our Implementation Guide.
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.
This policy briefing outlines the benefits that arise from making a beneficial ownership register public. It looks at how different user groups are able to use the data when it is made public, and identifies the benefits this gives.
It argues that there is sufficient evidence for policymakers to act on the understanding that a public register will serve the public interest. It outlines key considerations for implementers and helps devise effective and safe BOT regimes appropriate for their contexts.