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The Australian Government has launched a consultation on how to improve transparency surrounding the beneficial ownership of companies.
In her foreword to the consultation document, Revenue Minister Kelly O'Dwyer said: "Improving transparency around who owns, controls, and benefits from companies will assist with preventing the misuse of companies for illicit activities including tax evasion, money laundering, bribery, corruption, and terrorism financing."
O'Dwyer explained that the Government is seeking feedback on what information needs to be collected to achieve this objective, and on how it should be collected, stored, and kept up to date.
The consultation document asks for input on how to define a beneficial owner with a controlling interest in a company, and on which tests or thresholds should adopted to determine this controlling interest. It also asks how best to identify those exercising indirect control or ownership, and whether the process for identification of beneficial owners should operate in such a way that reporting must occur on all entities through to and including the ultimate beneficial owner.
Likewise, the Government is seeking feedback as to what details should be collected and reported for those identified as beneficial owners, and, in the case of foreign individuals and corporate bodies, what information would be necessary to enable these persons to be appropriately identified by users of the information. The consultation asks what obligations there should be on companies to ascertain who their beneficial owners are, whether each company should maintain their own registers, and if a central register of beneficial ownership information should also be established.
The consultation will close on March 13.
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