There have been two cost/benefit analyses carried out looking at the costs of a beneficial ownership registry: one done by the UK in 2002 and one done by the European Commission in 2007. Both concluded that public registries of beneficial ownership would be more cost effective than the status quo.
Global Witness commissioned the same consultants who carried out the 2002 cost benefit analysis to update the costs figures for the UK.
They estimated that including beneficial ownership information in a register that is searchable and updated as ownership changes would cost the UK government £11m a year (with an initial outlay of £0.5m to set up) and for the UK private sector, the costs would be £4m a year (with an initial outlay of £24m). The 2002 study estimated the savings in police time alone from having a public registry of beneficial ownership to be £30m a year. In addition to this there would be other benefits including making it easier to trace and recover stolen assets.
The consultant's report can be downloaded below.