Business Integrity – Ultimate Business Ownership – Transparency International
Anti-Money Laundering Directives are nothing new to the European Union. The idea to establish clear requirements or a standard to fight corruption and money laundering with all the associated crimes started early in the 1990s. Of course, money laundering needs the associated crimes and criminal syndicates to exist. These gangs try to adopt new and increasingly innovative methods of circumnavigating the legal banking system.
As calls become louder and more consistent from countries across the world to stop the practices that fuel the need for money laundering, the world is uniting to expose the associated crimes. In many ways the shocking practices are now legislated against that use the subsequent money laundering have been legislated against with little real impact. If we are to curb drug and human trafficking, bribery (not the low-level facilitation payments or a lunch here or there but the real corruption at high level), modern human slavery and many other activities that are becoming more and more sophisticated. This demands cross border collaboration and it started with the EU Directive now in its 6th iteration. This new Directive has a wider reach and is bringing different entities under its regulation. Bringing a sharper focus on governments and corporates to adhere to the regulations and know the Ultimate Beneficial Ownership of businesses around the Globe.
Agreeing the standard information to be collected is part of the 4th Anti-money Laundering Directive EU, where ‘obliged entities must obtain and hold ‘adequate, accurate and current information’ about their beneficial owners. This must be accessible through a central register of registers. Disclosure is vital to the success of this system.
For more details about who is considered to be a beneficial owner go to Transparency International’s website through this link https://openborders.direct/service/transparency-international.
To quote from their website: ‘For decades, as scandal after scandal has demonstrated, anonymous shell companies have been used to divert public funds, channel bribes and conceal ill-gotten gains, as part of corruption and money laundering schemes stretching across borders.’
Information such as the natural persons who actually own, control and gain benefit from a business will enable track and tracing across borders, but it must be transparent and easy to access. This helps at all levels from large government contracts and multi-national corporations to the MSMEs.
This will make it easier for all businesses to carry out due diligence. Trading with confidence that they know their partners and can affirm that they are complying with many of the laws around modern slavery and bribery too.
Transparency International states: ‘The only answer is to hold a central, public and transparent register of companies and their ultimate beneficial owners, in addition to information on legal ownership and directors, is the most effective and practical was to record this information and facilitate timely access for all stakeholders.
Transparency in company ownership is more than a technical solution to a problem, it is a matter of social justice.’
We can no longer stand by, and watch corruption devastate billions of lives around the globe. COVID 19 has highlighted the need to for better understanding of countries, corporations, and every citizen’s action. Business integrity is not a catchy phrase for marketing purposes this will change a dark culture that is overwhelming society across the world. A centralised public register, with easy access to all, that shows the beneficial ownership needs to be a global commitment to a gold standard is precisely the type of change we need.
As Transparency International says, the time for action is now.
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