Declaring beneficial ownership: a new global priority

A recent article by the World Bank's Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative noted that while 90 per cent of income and asset disclosure regimes require officials to declare their real estate holdings, the vast majority leave a gaping loophole. Public officials are not considered to be making a false declaration if they exclude property or assets owned through legal entities; 80 per cent of disclosure systems do not require officials to declare shares or property held in the name of a lawyer or other legal entity for the official's benefit.[1]  

This is an area of great concern given that two recent reports, Puppet Masters and Corruption on Your Doorstep, showed that corrupt officials frequently use companies, foundations and trusts to disguise their illicit wealth. Requiring beneficial ownership to be declared alongside legal ownership is a much-needed and innovative step to greatly increase the effectiveness of disclosure regimes. Transparency International has launched the Unmask the Corrupt campaign to tackle this issue.  


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