EUobserver on 11 February published the opinion of Martin Kenney on the public registers of beneficial owners, that Europe wants the EU states to create. The author is partner of a specialist investigative and asset recovery practice, so I suppose he knows what he is talking about.
Public access is not a good idea
He is against the decision to make the registers open to the public on grounds of personal and corporate privacy.
How do we square one arm of the EU involved with advancing the cause of private data protection, with the other arm pushing for open UBO registers offshore? Why is bank account and tax return data private, while ownership of company data is not?
He congratulates International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and Transparency International (TI) for their noble fight against fraud and corruption, but disagrees with their notion of unlimited public access to confidential information.
He does not believe the confidential information will frustrate crooks, money-launderers and terrorists.
Open UBO registers will intrude upon the privacy of the innocent and be worse than useless in the fight against fraud and corruption.
I completely agree with that. It was the theme of my Dun & Bradstreet presentation: Faciliteert het UBO-register criminelen of draagt het bij aan de bestrijding van criminaliteit? (is the UBO-register facilitating criminals or is it useful for combatting crime?).
Addition 20 February 2020
Of course Transparency International (TI) reacted on the article, with Ending shell companies does not threaten privacy, 17 February 2020. The title of the article shows that it is not on the subject of Kenney’s article.
Though public access is against GDPR, TI keeps saying it is not. With false arguments TI keeps hammering that the ultimate beneficial owners do not need any privacy anymore. TI writes nonsense, lik “Acting as strong deterrents, public registers will create an additional layer of protection for societies“. The UBO-registers have nothing to do with Panama Papers, there information was obtained by hacking. The information in the registers is not useful for managing risks and potential liabilities, as the registers are full with unimportant people.