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G8: EU can lead the fight on ‘phantom firms’

Brussels – Responding to the outcome of today’s G8 summit, The ONE Campaign calls on the EU to push for transparency on the real owners of companies.

In much of the world, the owners of anonymous ‘shell’ companies are not legally required to disclose their identities. This enables individuals and companies to shift money around the globe secretly.  These ‘phantom firms’ played a role in the loss of $859 billion from developing countries in 2010 in the form of illicit financial flows (1).

Eloise Todd, Brussels director at ONE said:

“Following the progress made on transparency at the G8, the EU should seize the initiative.  The revision of the anti-money laundering directive is an opportunity to move within the next twelve months towards public registries of the real owners of companies in Europe. “

In February, the EU proposed new anti-money laundering rules that would require companies to disclose their beneficial owners if requested by law enforcement authorities – but the proposal does not require official registries open to public examination.  ONE calls on EU member states and the European Parliament to strengthen the rules to ensure that the beneficial owners of companies are published in public registries throughout the EU.

Last week, the European Parliament voted to approve anti-corruption rules for the oil, gas, mining and forestry sectors, an issue that President Barroso helped push up the political agenda.

Eloise Todd continued:

“The EU should build on the momentum of last week’s victory on transparency for the extractive sectors and quickly move towards transparency of all beneficial owners through public registries.  This will be a crucial step to preventing illicit financial flows draining the resources of developing countries.”

Notes to editors

(1)    Source: http://iff.gfintegrity.org/iff2012/2012report.html

Co-founded by Bono, ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organisation of more than three million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease… because the facts show extreme poverty has already been cut in half and can be virtually eradicated by 2030.  Learn more at ONE.org.

For further information or to arrange an interview with Eloise Todd please contact Dudley Curtis on +32 485 379945, [email protected]