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Five EU Countries Announce Plans to Develop Multilateral System for Automatic Exchange of Beneficial Ownership Info and G20 Listens

On 14 April 2016, Finance Ministers from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom (G5) announced plans to develop a multilateral system for the automatic exchange of beneficial ownership information. The announcement was made during the IMF-World Bank 2016 spring meeting held in Washington, D.C., and was followed by support for action on transparency and beneficial ownership in a G20 communiqué.

The following is from the letter from the G5 Finance Ministers to the other Finance Ministers of the G20.

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On beneficial ownership, it is essential that all jurisdictions apply enhanced standards of transparency. In this spirit, we commit to establishing as soon as possible registers or other mechanisms requiring that beneficial owners of companies, trusts, foundations, shell companies and other relevant entities and arrangements are identified and available for tax administration and law enforcement authorities. We call on all other jurisdictions to do so.

In addition, as a first step we are launching a pilot initiative for automatic exchange of such information on beneficial ownership. This will give our tax and other relevant authorities full knowledge on vast amounts of information and help them track the complex offshore trails used by criminals.

As a next step, we should also call for the development of a system of interlinked registries containing full benefit ownership information and mandate the OECD, in cooperation with FATF, to develop common international standards for these registries and their interlinking.

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The following is from the communiqué issued by the G20 following their meeting held on the margins of the IMF-World Bank meeting.

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The G20 reiterates the high priority it attaches to financial transparency and effective implementation of the standards on transparency by all, in particular with regard to the beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements. Improving the transparency of the beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements is vital to protect the integrity of the international financial system, and to prevent misuse of these entities and arrangements for corruption, tax evasion, terrorist financing and money laundering. The G20 reiterates that it is essential that all countries and jurisdictions fully implement the FATF standards on transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements and we express our determination to lead by example in this regard. We particularly stress the importance of countries and jurisdictions improving the availability of beneficial ownership information to, and its international exchange between, competent authorities for the purposes of tackling tax evasion, terrorist financing and money laundering. We ask the FATF and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes to make initial proposals by our October meeting on ways to improve the implementation of the international standards on transparency, including on the availability of beneficial ownership information, and its international exchange.

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Click the following links for the full G5 letter as published by the German Ministry of Finance and the full G20 communiqué as published by the Japanese Ministry of Finance.

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