The drive for Corporate transparency: transparency in company ownership is more than a technical solution to a problem. It is a matter of social justice.

March 23, 2021 4:30 PM

For decades scandal after scandal has demonstrated that anonymous shell companies have been used to divert public funds, channel bribes and ill-gotten gains as part of cross border corruption and money laundering schemes. Companies that exist on paper are tools for the diversion of critical resources needed to advance sustainable development and collective security.

The international agenda on corporate transparency shifted dramatically when the Panama Papers shone a spotlight on something that was previously described as a technical issue.   Recent years have seen concerns about the misuse of UK corporate entities, the filing of false information at Companies House and the use of innocent people’s information on the companies register to commit fraud and other acts of harm.

In January 2021, US congress passed the Corporate Transparency Act, which is seen as a ground-breaking law to crack down on shell companies. But further east businesses are still struggling to adapt to transparency. Despite the recent regulatory changes and constant insightful investigative journalism, we still need more decisive global reforms to ensure that the resources needed to pay for critical public services are simply not hidden away in tax havens or property markets abroad. The panel will discuss what more should be done to move the dial on this global issue.