Five Strategies for Identifying & Screening Beneficial Owners

How to Uncover the True Ownership of a Business

Forensic & Litigation Consulting | Global Risk & Investigations Practice (GRIP)

June 28, 2019

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Overlooking the ultimate beneficiary of a third party can be materially and publicly damaging for an investor. In the absence of a public register of beneficial ownership for Australian companies, we propose five strategies to give you confidence in knowing who you are really doing business with.

Following the outcome of the Federal Election on May 18, the anticipated reforms to Australia’s Integrity infrastructure are unlikely to advance in the near term, making the road towards improved transparency less certain.

In the lead up to the 2019 election, the Australian Labor Party promised to implement a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of Australian companies and trusts. Despite the Abbott Government previously committing to a publicly accessible register in 2014, the current Liberal-National Coalition government backed away from the commitment in February 2019. Among other tax reforms, the registry was intended to close the legal loopholes that allow multinational companies to minimise tax through complex ownership structures.

Such a registry would help fulfil Australia’s commitments to increased transparency and fighting tax evasion, money laundering, corruption, fraud and terrorist financing.

Recent examples underline the importance of increasing transparency in our business environment. Offshore companies are frequently used internationally to facilitate fraud, tax evasion, corruption and money laundering. Articles in the Australian press have also highlighted the recent involvement of companies registered in the Cayman Islands in several high-profile deals with the Australian Government.

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