Global Financial Integrity

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UNGASS 2021: COMMIT TO TRANSPARENCY IN COMPANY OWNERSHIP FOR THE COMMON GOOD

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The UN General Assembly’s decision to hold a Special Session against Corruption in 2021 created a historic opportunity for the international community to address the global crisis of corruption.

The undersigned groups and individuals are united in the conviction that it is of the utmost urgency for the UNGASS 2021 to put an end to the abuse of anonymous companies and other legal vehicles that facilitate cross-border corruption and other crimes. We are calling on the UNGASS 2021 to commit to making centralised, public beneficial ownership registers a global standard.

Companies that exist only on paper, exploiting our legal systems and concealing their ultimate ownership, are tools for the diversion of critical resources needed to advance sustainable development and collective security.

For decades, as scandal after scandal has demonstrated, anonymous shell companies have been used to divert public funds, channel bribes and conceal ill-gotten gains, as part of corruption and money laundering schemes stretching across borders.

Beneficial ownership information – information on the natural persons who ultimately own, control or benefit from a legal vehicle – enables cross-border enforcement and the tracing of ill-gotten assets for confiscation and return. In public contracting processes, it helps in the detection of conflicts of interest and corruption. It also makes it easier for businesses to carry out due diligence, helps them know who their partners and customers are and meet reporting obligations.

A central, public register of companies and their ultimate beneficial owners – in addition to information on legal ownership and directors – is the most effective and practical way to record such information and facilitate timely access for all stakeholders.

We have come together to address government leaders currently preparing for UNGASS 2021 with one voice and one clear message: The “concise and action-oriented political declaration” to be adopted by the General Assembly should commit all countries to establish central, public registers of beneficial ownership as the new global standard. This should be supplemented with efforts to verify the collected information in order to ensure the accuracy and reliability of beneficial ownership data.

Transparency in company ownership is more than a technical solution to a problem. It is a matter of social justice.

Corruption devastates the lives of billions of people around the world, while its deadliness has become all the more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis. With only ten years left to achieve the 2030 Agenda targets, we need decisive reforms to ensure that the resources needed to pay for critical public services such as schools and hospitals are not simply misappropriated and hidden away in tax havens or property markets abroad. Centralised, public registers of beneficial ownership as a global standard is precisely that kind of change.

The time for action is now.

 

Signatories

Civil society & non-profit groups

Access Info Europe

Accountability Lab

Africa Centre for Energy Policy

Africa Centre for Open governance (AfriCOG)

Africa Freedom of Information Centre

AfroLeadership

Anti-Corruption Data Collective

Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa

Article 19

Basel Institute on Governance

BHP Foundation

Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)

Centre for Law and Democracy

Civil Forum for Asset Recovery (CiFAR)

Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS)

Development Gateway

Directorio Legislativo

East African Community Youth Ambassadors Platform

Footprints Africa

Global Financial Integrity

Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD)

Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime

Global Integrity

Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC)

Global Policy Forum

Global Witness

Government Transparency Institute

Human Rights Watch

Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (HIVOS)

International Lawyers Project

International Trade Union Confederation

Latindad

mySociety

Natural Resource Governance Institute

ONE Campaign

Open Contracting Partnership

Open Corporates

Open Data Charter

Open Ownership

Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)

Oxfam

Partnership for Transparency Fund

Publish What You Pay

Results for Development (R4D)

Shadow World Investigations

Tax Justice Network

Tax Justice Network Africa

Technologies for Accountability Foundation

The B Team

The Sentry

Trade Union Advisory Council to the OECD

Transparency International

Transparency International EU

Transparency, Accountability & Participation (TAP) Network

UNCAC Coalition

Water Integrity Network

Wildlife Justice Commission

World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Transparency & Anti-Corruption

Angelika Prokop-Grey, Anti-corruption, compliance & ethics expert, Poland

Bruce Hamilton Moore, Former Director International Land Coalition, Canada

Daniel McElroy, Lawyer, United States

Daniel Riuz, Human rights researcher, Italy

Danna Ester Hernández Alvarado, Civic activist, Honduras

Diego José Torres Saldaña, Lawyer, Ecauador

Edward Ahangama, Lawyer, Sri Lanka

Fabiano Angélico, International asset recovery consultant, Brazil

Fleury Rakotomalala, Investigative journalist, Madagascar

Gary Pienaar, Advocate of the High Court, South Africa

Hashim Awad Abdelmageed, Laywer, Sudan

Iman Mirzazadeh, Lawyer, Iran/Sweden

Joachim F. Reuter, Author & public speaker on ethics, Germany

José Salvador González Cervantes, Researcher, Comunidad PIRC/CIDE, Mexico

Juanita Olaya Garcia, Governance and sustainability expert, Colombia/Germany

Karen Glossop, Communication & leadership consultant, Canada/United Kingdom

Kevin Joseph Comeau, Laywer, Canada

Kim Gleeson, Director of Universal Human Rights Network, Australia

Laurence Cockcroft, Co-founder of Transparency International, United Kingdom

Linnea Mills, Anti-corruption researcher, Sweden/United Kingdom

Mario G Picon, International development expert, Peru/United States

Maxe Fisher, Artist, Canada

Mona Hafez, Migration expert, Germany/Senegal

Nicholas Keith Staite, Former Crown Prosecutor, United Kingdom

Nicholas Smyrnios, Artist, Greece/Sweden

Olumide Gabriel Areo, Nigerian Students’ Accountability Network

Paul Reid, Former trade union official, Australia

Peter Eigen, Founder of Transparency International, Germany

Rakesh Raman, Journalist, India

Reynaldo Castro Melgarejo, Anti-corruption investigator, Mexico

Richard E. Messick, Global Anticorruption Blog

Rob Davidson, Open data advocate, Canada

Robert Davidson, Member of Open Government Multi-Stakeholder Forum, Canada

Roberto Júlio Tibana, Economist, Mozambique

Rochelle Rocain Dean, Executive Director Civil Society Bahamas

Rubén Darío León Pineda, Anti-corruption researcher, Colombia

Santiago Wortman Jofre, Lawyer, Argentina

Sarah Steingrüber, Global health expert, Germany

Stephan Klaus Ohme, Financial expert, Germany

Stuart Hendin, Legal expert, Canada

Taher Al-Hatef, Anti-corruption researcher, Yemen

Wayne Copeland, Community activist, Canada

William Bourdon, Lawyer & Founder of Sherpa, France

 

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