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The ONE Campaign reacts to Prime Minister’s announcement on beneficial ownership

Welcoming Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement on beneficial ownership, Diane Sheard, UK Director of The ONE Campaign, said:

“Transparency is the most effective vaccine against corruption. These new measures could make it harder for corrupt individuals to spend ill-gotten money, stolen from some of the world’s poorest countries. Lifting this veil of secrecy will help developing countries to identify and recover these funds, which should be spent on essentials like health and education.

“We hope that making information public about foreign companies that own property in the UK will deter money-launderers from doing business here.  As well as foreign companies, we call for greater transparency of UK and foreign trusts, otherwise in closing a door to corruption we are leaving a window wide open.”

Notes to Editors

  • The ONE Campaign estimates that up to a trillion dollars goes missing from the global financial system each year. To find out more click here.
  • The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, which establishes a public register of beneficial ownership for companies registered in the UK, received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015, fulfilling a commitment made by Prime Minister David Cameron at the 2013 G8 Summit in Lough Erne. From January 2016, UK-registered companies will be required to hold their beneficial ownership information. From April 2016, they will be obligated to submit this information to Companies House, where it will be freely available to the public in a centralised, searchable register.
  • In June 2015, An agreement was reached between the UK Government, extractive companies and civil society in which oil, gas and mining companies operating in the UK will disclose their real, ultimate owners.
  • In December 2014, the European Union approved new anti-money laundering regulations that require Member States to create centralised registers of beneficial ownership information, with access given to those with a ‘legitimate interest’.
  • According to a Transparency International UK report, 36,342 London properties totalling 2.25 sqare miles are held by offshore haven companies. Of these companies, 38% are based in the British Virgin Islands, 16% in Jersey, 9.5% in Isle of Man, and 9% in Guernsey. The research – analysing data from the Land Registry and Metropolitan Police Proceeds of Corruption Unit – found that 75% of properties whose owners are under investigation for corruption made use of offshore corporate secrecy to hide their identities.