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Open Government Partnership

Beneficial ownership transparency has emerged as an essential means for combating corruption,
stemming illicit financial flows, and fighting tax evasion. In response, governments as diverse as
Denmark, Kenya, Nigeria, and the United Kingdom have committed to publish beneficial ownership information.

In most countries, a company can be formed without disclosing the identity of the individual who ultimately controls or profits from the business, i.e., the beneficial owner. Criminals can assign “nominee” shareholders to be listed on official documents or can list other legal entities
as the “owners,” thereby creating a chain of companies–often across borders–that can be difficult for investigators to trace and anonymous companies are often used to mask corruption.  This research reveals four key issues to be addressed by new beneficial ownership commitments.