Saturday, March 23, 2019
The first ever beneficial ownership toolkit was released today in the context of the OECD’s Global Integrity and Anti-Corruption Forum. The toolkit, prepared by the Secretariat of the OECD’s Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, is intended to help governments implement the Global Forum’s standards on ensuring that law enforcement officials have access to reliable information on who the ultimate beneficial owners are behind a company or other legal entity so that criminals can no longer hide their illicit activities behind opaque legal structures.
The toolkit was developed to support Global Forum members and in particular developing countries because the current beneficial ownership standard does not provide a specific method for implementing it. To assist policy makers in assessing different implementation options, the toolkit contains policy considerations that Global Forum members can use in implementing the legal and supervisory frameworks to identify, collect and maintain the necessary beneficial ownership information.
“Transparency of beneficial ownership information is essential to deterring, detecting and disrupting tax evasion and other financial crimes. The Global Forum’s standard on beneficial ownership offers jurisdictions flexibility in how they implement the standard to take account of different legal systems and cultures. However, that flexibility can pose challenges particularly to developing countries.” said Pascal Saint-Amans, Head of the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration. “This new toolkit is an invaluable new resource to help them find the best approach.”
The toolkit covers a variety of important issues regarding beneficial ownership, including:
- the concepts of beneficial owners and ownership, the criteria used to identify them, the importance of the matter for transparency in the financial and non-financial sectors;
- technical aspects of beneficial ownership requirements, distinguishing between legal persons and legal arrangements (such as trusts), and measures being taken internationally to ensure the availability of information on beneficial ownership a series of checklists that may be useful in pursuing a specific beneficial ownership framework;
- ways in which the principles on beneficial ownership can play out in practice in Global Forum EOIR peer reviews;
- why beneficial ownership information is also a crucial component of the automatic exchange of information regimes being adopted by jurisdictions around the world.
With 154 members, a majority of whom are developing countries, the Global Forum has been heavily engaged in providing technical assistance on the new beneficial ownership requirements, often with the support of partner organisations including the IDB. The Toolkit offers another means to further equip members to comply with the international tax transparency standards.
The Toolkit is the first practical guide freely available for countries implementing the international tax transparency standards. It will be frequently updated to incorporate new lessons learned from the second-round EOIR peer reviews conducted by the Global Forum, as well as best practices seen and developed by supporting organisations.