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The need for strong European laws to fight money laundering

Dear Mr. Kariņš, Ms. Sargentini, and Members of the European Parliament,

In March, the Parliament by 643 votes called for ambitious transparency measures to fight money laundering: making public who is behind European companies and trusts.

The next 24 hours will be critical to securing these measures, and in the final days of the Italian Presidency there is much pressure to yield. We are calling on you to hold firm on the mandate you were entrusted with, and fight the corner for public disclosure in negotiations with Council.

With anonymous shell companies and trusts often being used to siphon much-needed funds out of developed and developing countries alike, knowing who really owns and controls these entities would go a long way to follow the money and root out corruption.

The Parliament has really set the bar high. And so far, it has worked: at first, only a couple of Member States were in favour of public registers of the so-called ‘beneficial owners’ of companies and trusts. But within a few months, countries like Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands have moved towards this level of transparency. Vocal member states in Council are now split halfway between those who want public access, and those who want to be allowed to refuse it.

The political momentum is moving in the Parliament’s favour. So don’t let the Presidency’s haste to land a deal at any cost before the end of the year sway you. This is a once-in-a-mandate opportunity to land historic transparency measures:. In the wake of Luxleaks and in the week after International Anti-Corruption Day, there has never been a more important moment for Parliament to stand up for its principles.

Caving in to the Council by accepting a deal that does not include full public access to information on beneficial owners or that contains exemptions that would give the unscrupulous a place to hide, would be a breach of the original Parliament position and a betrayal of the commitments made to citizens.

We know you have done tremendous work to come this far, and stand squarely behind you as you continue to defend what Europe and the world needs: to see who is hiding behind the anonymous companies and trusts that rob state coffers from funds that could otherwise be invested in public services like healthcare and education.

Our 75,287 petition signers are watching you and are ready to applaud your lead.

Tamira Gunzburg

Director Brussels ONE