OpenOwnership Register promises to simplify beneficial ownership tracking

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A new tool to track data about who owns companies — a concept known as beneficial ownership — has opened for public beta, under the name OpenOwnership Register.

The OpenOwnership Register launch comes on the one-year anniversary of the publication of the Panama Papers, which revealed information about the shareholders and directors of 214,000 shell companies.

The Financial Action Task Force, the intergovernmental body responsible for developing and promoting policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, has called out monitoring of beneficial ownership information as a key challenge. In its latest round of comprehensive country assessments, not a single country scored a high level of effectiveness rating in monitoring beneficial ownership information, with the majority being rated as low level of effectiveness.

The OpenOwnership Register is a collaboration between transparency organizations including, Global Witness, Open Contracting Partnership, Web Foundation, OpenCorporates, Transparency International, and the B Team.

For now, the OpenOwnership Register covers approximately 2 million entities – with data sourced primarily from the U.K.’s Persons of Significant Control (PSC) Register and Slovakia’s Register of Public Sector Partners. Companies are also able to submit their own beneficial ownership information to the Register.

In addition to the register, OpenOwnership is putting forth a beneficial ownership technical data standard. The standard aims to unify collecting and publishing beneficial ownership data, identifiers, and ownership thresholds.