A powerful group of global business leaders has today called on the G20 to act to tackle anonymous shell companies, which allow criminals and corrupt businesses and officials to hide money and evade law enforcement.
ONE Board members Mo Ibrahim and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, along with Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Guilherme Leal, Francois-Henri Pinault and Paul Polman, have published an open letter in today’s Guardian newspaper urging world leaders to shine a light on who owns companies and trusts.
Echoing ONE’s Trillion Dollar Scandal campaign, they highlight what’s at stake, and what needs to happen:
Anonymous shell companies have been used to siphon off government revenues from the sale of natural resources in developing countries, while drug cartels have laundered millions of dollars through the United States using these vehicles. In total, at least $1tn is syphoned from developing countries each year with very few of those responsible ever found or held accountable…
There is a way to help stop the corrupt and criminal from getting away with these acts: governments should collect the identity of the real, living people who ultimately own and control companies and other legal entities. This would make it harder for criminals to hide money in places like the US and easier for law enforcement to track them down.
This week in Brisbane, Australia, the G20 leaders have a powerful opportunity to act on this critical issue. G20 leaders have already identified shedding light on corporate ownership as a priority. Now they need to take the next step and agree to beneficial ownership principles to guide their actions.
The signatories are all members of The B team, an influential group which aims to create a better way of doing business for the wellbeing of people and the planet. They clearly make the case for why business should back new laws to end anonymous shell companies:
Action on beneficial ownership transparency benefits us all: it increases the stability of the financial system, ensures countries can benefit from their own resources and enables law enforcement to track down the perpetrators of crime and corruption.
As entrepreneurs – owners and leaders of successful corporations – we do not want the corporate form to be abused and called into disrepute. As global leaders, we see that corruption and money laundering are a constraint on economic growth that undermines investments in human capital and infrastructure.
Business as usual shouldn’t include perverse uses of the corporate form for crime and corruption. G20 action on beneficial ownership would promote both clean business and good governance. G20 leadership on this issue is timely, necessary and welcome.