Transparency International has launched a campaign directed at hidden company ownership, which it says enables large-scale abuse and corruption. The initiative came ahead of a G20 meeting in Australia.
Starting its campaign on Thursday, Transparency International called on G20 officials to make it harder for corrupt individuals to hide behind secret companies.
The anti-corruption organization warned today many leading economies did not require or record information about who really owned or controlled firms registered in their respective nations, making it easier for corrupt business people, terrorists and organized criminals to hide and shift stolen wealth.
"By making it mandatory for business registers to include information about the ultimate beneficial owner and making that information public, G20 governments will help to ensure that law enforcement and the public know who really benefits from every company registered on their soil," TI Chair Huguette Labelle said in a statement.
TI claimed secret company ownership was a problem that went much further than tropical tax havens, adding that at the moment 77 percent of business registers across the 28-member European Union did not collect the names of the real owners of companies.
It also referred to a World Bank study of more than 200 large-scale corruption cases that occurred over the past three decades. It found that in more than 70 percent of cases, ownership of the stolen funds had been disguised through the misuse of corporate entities, and secret companies in particular.
The G20 have already committed to adopting better principles to prevent the misuse of legal entities ahead of their meeting in Australia later this month.