Australian Government Opens Consultation on Beneficial Ownership Register

The Australian Government invited interested stakeholders to share their views on the government's plan to establish the Beneficial Ownership Register. The government is seeking views on the details, scope and implementation of a beneficial ownership register for companies.

Background: Public Register Initiative

In May 2016, the Government announced at the UK Anti-Corruption Summit that it would explore, via public consultation, options for a beneficial ownership register for companies. The Government reaffirmed as part of the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan, released on 7 December 2016, that it would consult publicly on the details, scope and implementation of a register.

"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," The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, Minister for Revenue and Financial Services informed.

The Consultation Document

As part of increasing the transparency of beneficial ownership of Australian companies, the government addresses the following question on beneficial ownership of Australian companies:

  • Which companies are in scope?
  • What beneficial ownership information should be captured?
    • Identifying the natural persons who have a controlling ownership interest in a company
    • Details of beneficial owners to be collected
  • How and where to record beneficial ownership information?
    • How should this information be collected and stored?
    • Operation of a central register
    • Ensuring information is accurate and current
    • Exchange of information between authorities
  • Other implementation and administration issues
    • Transitional arrangements
    • Impact on affected companies and stakeholders

Sources: ATO - Press Release, ATO - Consultation Paper

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