Global Witness, Open Contracting Partnership, World Wide Web Foundation, Transparency International, OpenCorporates, ONE
As the UK government has recognised, understanding who really controls and benefits from companies is essential to tackling corruption, and it has led the world with the 2016 launch of the world’s first public beneficial ownership register. This strong and principled action, together with campaigns from civil society, the London Anti-Corruption Summit, and the leak of the Panama Papers, has led to an increasing number of countries agreeing to follow its lead, and publish public beneficial ownership registers.
However, this in itself will not be enough. In absence of other action, the data in the registers would be in siloed datasets, uncombined, unlinked, and not easily interoperable. The consortium behind OpenOwnership recognise that a global, interoperable register will make it easier for legitimate businesses to perform due diligence on potential business partners; help civil society and concerned citizens to see who actually benefits from government funds; and empower law enforcement with the information needed to cut through complex, international legal structures and track down the sources and recipients of dirty money.
OpenOwnership’s central goal is to build an open Global Beneficial Ownership Register, which will serve as an authoritative source of data about who owns companies, for the benefit of all.
For business and investors - OpenOwnership will collect and link together beneficial ownership data sets from across the world as well as self-disclosed corporate data to enable companies and investors to more easily see who they are really doing business with. It will provide an opportunity for companies to distinguish themselves as leaders in transparency and openness by disclosing their own ownership on the platform. As an authoritative source of data about who owns and controls companies, it will benefit many stakeholders but importantly business.The Global Register will be a tool for business to;
- better vet prospective partners, clients or suppliers
- use data to enhance due diligence and manage risk exposure
- build trust with partners, clients and suppliers by demonstrating business transparency and positioning themselves as a socially responsible business.
The consortium is made up of passionate experts from transparency and anti corruption organisations whose expertise span policy, platform development, advocacy and outreach and corporate engagement. The strength of the group is this unique combination of skills. The consortium has also convened public and private sector advisory groups who are feeding into the development of the private beta. They are providing the consortium with practical insights and user needs to ensure that OpenOwnership meets all stakeholder needs - business, investors, civil society, journalists, law enforcement etc. Working informally and collaboratively along each stage of the development journey will ensure the platforms success with its key target users.
We feel very much in the midst of learning lessons through the process of establishing and engaging the Private Sector Advisory Group as a user group in the development of OpenOwnership. Our current reflections are that it seems like a promising way to build buy-in over time. We currently have excitement and energy from members that we need to convert into trust and confidence in the technical capacity and the governance and management of the platform. Building that foundation of trust is our current focus. We are looking forward to seeing the inputs from the private sector partners reflected in the platform’s iterations, and to being able to shift the private sector into playing a key role in encouraging engagement by their suppliers and advocating for openness to governments based on their faith in the potential of the platform.