Dr Mo Ibrahim
Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Dr. Mo Ibrahim is the founder of Celtel International, one of Africa’s leading mobile telephone companies and a B Team Leader. He established the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in 2006 to support good governance and great leadership on the African continent, and is a global leader in the fight against corruption.
Time to rid the world of anonymous companies with global beneficial ownership transparency
Recent revelations from the Panama Papers have shown what we already knew: that anonymous shell companies are being used to evade sanctions, and hide corrupt monies. We know that these anonymous shell companies are the get-away car for corruption and crime, that they are used to finance terrorism and that they rob countries of finances needed for their sustainable development.
Transparency of beneficial ownership not only helps prevent corruption, and stymies crime and terrorist financing, it is also good for business. It can help increase competitiveness in markets, can reduce risk by allowing companies, workers, citizens and governments to know who they are doing business with, and it can allow companies to manage their financial exposure, and countries to ensure financial stability.
Businesses need and want access to quality, reliable information about who owns and controls companies that they source from or partner with.
The problem of anonymous companies is one that has a solution: for governments around the world to all implement beneficial ownership transparency so that no company can be set up without disclosing who owns or controls it. This system will work best if it is global and harmonised.
I welcome efforts to create a Global Register of Beneficial Ownership so that any interested business or person can eventually be able to find who owns or controls a company they are interested in. For governments, this global register can also be an easy solution for how to implement beneficial ownership.
At the London Summit, I hope to see governments making commitments to take action to implement beneficial ownership transparency. More importantly, after the Summit, I expect to see timely and effective action so that we can continue to rid the world of anonymous shell companies.