Create a centralized public registry of the beneficial owners for all companies operated, registered and traded in Canada.
A lack of transparency of company ownership and control helps those looking to hide their identity and launder corrupt money through the international financial system. In Canada, investigations are frequently frustrated by the inability of financial intelligence units (FIU's) and law enforcement to identify the true owner of a company being used to hide or conceal criminal activity, particularly where this information is held offshore by companies incorporated outside Canada.
By requiring Canadian companies to provide this information to a central registry and/or provincial registries, there are additional benefits to tax authorities and law enforcement agencies in saving time and being able to investigate the ownership structure of a company without tipping off the company that they are under investigation.
Making this information publicly available has advantages in terms of public scrutiny, building public trust and ensuring investors, the market and other companies know better with whom they are doing business.
Canada currently ranks 70th in terms of ability to access information on companies, this is below Sri Lanka, El Salvador and Bahrain (http://compass.arachnys.com/rankings.html). Creating a public registry of the beneficial ownership of companies is one step towards providing Canadian law authorities, journalists, civil society organizations and others with important corporate information.
In its G8 action plan on transparency of corporations and trusts Canada has committed to implementing amendments to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Regulations (PCMLTFR) that will improve customer due diligence measures, including those related to corporate and trust beneficial ownership information.
By including this commitment in Canada’s Action Plan 2.0, Canada will address two important grand challenges identified by the OGP: increasing public integrity and increasing corporate accountability.