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Beneficial Ownership of companies - is it time for a mandatory declaration?

  • 09-05-2022 4:57pm
    Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 19,702 Mod ✭✭✭✭

    There are many many companies that hide their beneficial ownership that can only be for nefarious reasons, such as stolen or drug money or tax evasion or to hide their true ownership to avoid creditors.

    These companies generally are arranged in a web of shell companies, with subsidiary companies in different jurisdictions, with more subsidiaries in other jurisdictions. The aim appears to be to make it as close as impossible to track the money by any investigation - either journalists or law enforcement.

    By making it mandatory to declare the beneficial ownership - with the penalty of the proceeds being seized by the equivalent of CAB - it would reduce the benefit of money laundering. CAB was an effective law enforcement measure reducing the need to nail the criminals by catching them 'beyond reasonable doubt' and just asking them where the money came from that they are spending. Hard question to answer if it is all illegal.

    It would only work if all major countries made sure the all tax havens of the world complied. The world wide minimum corporation tax is the first step in this type of measure.


  • Registered Users Posts: 485 ✭✭Wildlife Actor

    Ta dah.....

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 19,702 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell

    I was not aware that such a register exists.

    My point though was for a register of all beneficial ownership to be known for all corporations, companies, non-natural entities that own properties and control wealth, including bank accounts.

    It would not be necessary for the register to be searchable by the general public, but it should be available for state tax revenue agencies where the entity is located and international law enforcement.

    Unexplained wealth should be explained.

  • Registered Users Posts: 485 ✭✭Wildlife Actor

    I think what you've described is exactly what it covers (even trusts are covered) and the although members of the public need a reason to access the information, Revenue have full access. It's all set under the anti money laundering directives for the purpose you set out.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 19,702 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell

    Does it apply to tax havens like British Virgin Islands, Panama, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, and to Irish resident and non-resident wealthy individuals and their families?

  • Registered Users Posts: 485 ✭✭Wildlife Actor

    Sort of, I think. The company or trust has to be irish, but if you need to go through offshore tax haven companies to work out who the ultimate owners of the Irish entity are, that's what you must do.

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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 19,702 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell

    I think the point I was trying to make was there should be an international treaty that pushes to eliminate blind ownership through shell companies that intentionally hide the beneficial ownership of all substantial assets. Such hidden ownership is usually to hide criminally acquired assets, either through criminal enterprises like drugs, or just plain old corruption of politicians.

    Each country cannot police tax havens because what makes them tax havens is that tax authorities cannot investigate them - sort of obvious.

    Most of these tax havens have laws that make divulging such information a criminal offence - sort of ironic, grassing up a criminal is a crime.

  • Registered Users Posts: 485 ✭✭Wildlife Actor

    Yeah, would be great if you could do that but the Swiss, caymans etc have too much to lose by playing a straight bat.