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Governments to step up fight against financial crime

Ministers commit to improving the transparency of beneficial ownership information

On the heels of British Columbia’s recent efforts to combat money laundering and related financial crimes, other Canadian governments are pledging to toughen their own financial crime-fighting efforts.

Following a meeting, federal and provincial ministers with jurisdiction in this area pledged to boost law enforcement and to improve the transparency of beneficial ownership information, as B.C. has done in response to its widely reported money laundering problems.

To start, the ministers agreed to consult on making beneficial ownership information more transparent, “through initiatives such as aligning access through public registries,” they said in a joint statement.

Earlier this year, B.C. announced plans for a new public land registry that would provide information on property owners, along with reforms requiring private companies to track the true owners of their shares.

The measures are designed to eliminate the use of shell companies and other corporate veils to hide the true ownership of assets.

“Our goal is to target criminals that use corporations to hide or launder money, without deterring the majority of good corporate citizens from conducting their regular business activities,” the ministers said in their statement.

While consultations will provide an opportunity to raise privacy and compliance concerns, the governments also pledged to follow through with plans to shine a light into beneficial ownership information.

“If legislative gaps in beneficial ownership transparency are not closed, they will continue to be exploited by organized crime groups and white-collar criminals,” they said.

As for law enforcement, the ministers agreed that they “should intensify efforts to investigate and prosecute financial criminals, and recover proceeds of crime using criminal and civil processes.”

They also agreed to develop cross-government anti-money laundering best practices by January 2020.

Source: Investment Executive