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1.2 - Beneficial ownership

We will consult with the corporate sector, non-government organisations and the public on a beneficial ownership register for companies.

Objective
Australia will work to improve transparency of information on beneficial ownership and control of companies available to competent authorities.

Status Quo
Improving transparency around who owns and benefits from financial arrangements is key to protecting the integrity of our financial systems and preventing the misuse of financial entities for corruption and criminal activity. A beneficial ownership register shows who ultimately benefits from the activities of companies.

Australia currently has tracing powers for beneficial ownership of listed companies and investment schemes but there is room to strengthen these provisions.

Ambition
To ensure that adequate, accurate and timely information on beneficial ownership and control is available to competent authorities in Australia.

To improve regional and international cooperation on taxation, including strengthening information sharing between tax authorities and sharing learnings to increase the transparency of beneficial ownership information. We will use outcomes of the work by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes this year to help develop proposals to improve implementation of relevant international standards on transparency, including on the availability and exchange of companies’ beneficial ownership information.

Relevance
This commitment will advance the OGP values of access to information and public accountability by:

  • improving the effectiveness of our legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks;
  • preventing the misuse of financial arrangements for illicit purposes such as corruption, tax evasion and money laundering;
  • protecting the integrity of the financial system; and
  • increasing growth through private sector investment.

OGP Grand Challenge

  • Increasing Corporate Accountability

Timeframes
Recommendation to Government on improving transparency of information on beneficial ownership of companies available to competent authorities by end 2017

Lead agency
Treasury

Other actors involved
Government: Attorney General’s Department , Australian Securities and Investment Commission, G20, Australian Taxation Office, regional partners and Australian Accounting Standards Board

Non-government: Companies, non-government organisations, reporting entities under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act, FATF, Global Forum, international tax partners

Milestones

  1. Release a public consultation paper seeking views on the details, scope and implementation of a register of beneficial ownership of companies. The consultation will also consider:1) Recommendations by FATF and the Global Forum on proposals to improve the implementation of the international standards on transparency, including on the availability of beneficial ownership information and its international exchange.2) The use of nominee shareholdings to conceal beneficial ownership, including potential solutions.
    • End 2016
  2. Public consultation
    • End 2016 - Early 2017
  3. Recommendation to Government on the details, scope and implementation of a register of beneficial ownership of companies.
    • Mid 2017
  4. Recommendation to Government on other related areas of beneficial ownership transparency considered during consultation.
    • End 2017