Publish What You Pay – Canada
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New Report Calls for Beneficial Ownership Registries Across Canada Ahead of Meeting between Advocates and B.C. Finance Minister on Revenue Transparency

A new report released today calls for the creation of robust beneficial ownership registries across Canada because it found that a number of laws in Canada enable actors involved in business transactions to obscure beneficial ownership.

A beneficial owner refers to the natural person who owns, controls, or exercises ultimate effective control over a legal entity, arrangement, or property. This ownership may be direct, indirect and/or exercised through a chain of ownership.

The report, “Secret Entities: A legal analysis of the transparency of beneficial ownership in Canada,” written by Mora Johnson Barrister and Solicitor, on behalf of Publish What You Pay Canada, finds that Canadian laws on beneficial ownership have few disclosure requirements and no legal prohibitions on the secret representation of a third party in business dealings. That makes Canada an easy place to obscure the true ownership of business interest and real estate holdings for tax evaders, money launderers, corrupt officials, and criminals worldwide.

The release of the report comes in advance of a meeting between British Columbia’s Minister of Finance, Carole James, and civil society group Canadians for Tax Fairness, a member of the Publish What You Pay Canada coalition that will advocate for the development of beneficial ownership registries based on the recommendations laid out in the report.

This report finds that individuals intent on obscuring beneficial ownership information or conducting business anonymously in Canada are able to do so lawfully through a variety of means. The report provides recommendations on how the Government of Canada and provincial governments can improve beneficial ownership transparency in Canada including through the creation of beneficial ownership registries across provincial, territorial and federal jurisdictions.

“This is a particularly relevant discussion in British Columbia, where the debates around the foreign ownership of residential properties continues to stimulate political debate at both the municipal and provincial level” said the Dennis Howlett, the Executive Director of Canadians for Tax Fairness

Paul Rowe, Interim Director of Publish What You Pay Canada highlights that “this lack of transparency also hurts developing countries, as there have been many cases of corrupt officials using anonymous companies globally to divert crucial state revenues that should be spent on education and health services.”

In the coming months, representatives from Publish What You Pay Canada will continue to meet with political representatives across the provinces and territories and in Ottawa to advocate for a comprehensive beneficial ownership registry along with its partners Canadians for Tax Fairness and

Transparency International Canada. James Cohen, Interim Director of Transparency International Canada, indicated that “We encourage the government of British Columbia to be the lead in piloting a beneficial ownership registry that complies with the recommendations in this report.”

Media Contacts

Paul Rowe
Interim Director, Publish What You Pay Canada
T: 613 237-6768 ext 329
M: 613 222-5607

Mora Johnson
Barrister and Solicitor
Author of “Secret Entities: A legal analysis of the transparency of beneficial ownership in Canada”

Dennis Howlett
Executive Director, Canadians for Tax Fairness
M: 613-863-3670