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Anonymous Company Owners

Anonymous companies are getaway cars for the world’s criminal and corrupt – we must take away the keys. We’re pushing governments to change laws and bring business into the open. Read more

The current financial system makes it simple to hide and move suspect funds around the world. You can quickly and easily set up layer upon layer of paper companies, crossing borders and jurisdictions and making it almost impossible for law enforcement to track down the real human being behind the money. Corrupt politicians, tax evaders, terrorists, drug gangs, fraudsters and other criminals are all able to cover their tracks in this way.

Global Witness wants to fix this loophole, in its efforts to tackle the root causes of corruption, poverty and lots of other problems.

Our advocacy calls for governments to create public registries of the real owners of companies and trusts, so that law enforcement, businesses, NGOs and ordinary citizens know who they’re dealing with.

In recent years, this movement has gathered real momentum. In 2013 the UK government made the issue the central plank of its G8 presidency, and committed to ending anonymous companies by publishing information on the ultimate, beneficial, owners of British companies in a publicly-accessible register. Since then, the E.U. has followed suit and we’re pushing for the U.S., where more anonymous companies are formed than anywhere else, to do the same.

In 2014, Global Witness Founder Charmian Gooch was awarded the TED prize in support of her campaign to end anonymous companies, garnering support from law enforcement and business leaders worldwide. This is an issue whose time has come – we must all push for transparency to become the norm.