Who are the beneficial owners of Open Ownership? | The opaqueness of a transparency propagandist

Who are the beneficial owners of Open Ownership (OO)?

That’s what I recently wondered when I came across their site. They are propagandists of ‘transparency’ of legal entities, so it was surprising I could not find their company information on their website. There was nothing on the legal entity: no name, no jurisdiction, no annual accounts, no beneficial owners.

Questions
So I asked Thom Townsend, who according to the OO-site is the managing director, my questions through twitter:

@thomtownsend Hey Thom, why there is nothing to be found on the @OpenOwnership website on your company and its beneficial owners?

I noticed your company is financed by the UK government, so why is OO presenting itself as a NGO?

Please explain

His answer: ⁦‪

@Ellen_Timmer‬⁩ ⁦‪@OpenOwnership‬⁩ We aren’t a company, we’re a fiscally sponsored project housed in a not for profit, so we do not have any beneficial owners. We do need to update our financing information and ensure that’s more transparent. Well noted. Thank you.

After that he explained that OO is part of a US 501c organisation, i.e. an American non for profit.  When I asked for the beneficial owners, he answered that he believes that being a non for profit, the entity does not have beneficial owners! He was surprised when I inform him that under international AML-law every entity has a beneficial owner.

I wrote: Are you saying that you do not know European legislation in regard of beneficial owners of NGO’s? That’s amazing!

He answered: There is no European legislation relating to ‘NGOs’ and AML. Do you mean provisions in AMLD relating to trusts and foundations?

Then I explained that in European AML-law every legal entity has a beneficial owner, including charities. He wrote that in the UK being a charity makes a difference, a charity does not have beneficial owners. That’s a surprise to me, maybe it is because UK has left the EU, but it is also possible that the UK has another interpretation of the European AML-legislation.

The opaqueness of OO
It is interesting to see how opaque OO is, taking into consideration it promotes transparency.

Someone who read my twitterdiscussion sent me a link to a document that shows that Open Ownership is financed by the UK (The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland acting through the Department for International Development, “DFID”). The grant is awarded to a US fund (Fund for the City of New York). Maybe this US fund is the a US 501c organisation mentioned by Townsend.

The amounts are impressing:

DFID Financial Year- Annual Allocation (£GBP)
1st Oct 2017 to 31st March 2018 – £ 500,000
1st April 2018 to March 2019 – £ 1,000,000
1 April 2019 – 31 Mar 2020 – £ 1,641,000
1 April 2020– 31 Mar 2021 – £825,000

It looks as if OO is a privatized governmental activity of the US and the UK government, under the cloak of a NGO. The document refers to “Open ownership results framework“, that is not included. It’s a pity that I do not have the time to look further.

And still I do not know who the beneficial owners of OO are.

 

More information:

Read the full thread:

 

Over Ellen Timmer, advocaat ondernemingsrecht @Pellicaan

Verbonden aan Pellicaan Advocaten, http://www.pellicaan.nl/, kantoor Rotterdam, telefoon 088-6272287, fax 088-6272280, e-mail ellen.timmer@pellicaan.nl ||| Weblogs: algemeen: https://ellentimmer.com/ || modernisering ondernemingsrecht: http://flexbv.wordpress.com/ ||| Motto: goede bedoelingen rechtvaardigen geen slechte regels
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