In What has happened to the proposed beneficial ownership of shares register? in February 2020, I asked what has happened to the Australian government’s ”First Open Government National Action Plan” of 2016, including a proposed beneficial ownership of shares register?
It seems not much?
Meanwhile, the UK government has given its positive response to options to enhance the role of its companies register – Companies House – and to increase the transparency of UK corporate entities.
Companies House provides is responsible for incorporating UK limited companies under the Companies Act 2006. In contrast to Australia’s ASIC register, the UK provides much free public access to company information.
“It helps many businesspeople obtain assurance over potential suppliers and partners. It provides assurance to banks and credit references agencies, helping unlock loans for small businesses. And it helps civil society organisations, journalists and the general public to understand who is doing what in our corporate sphere”.
The UK government refers to recent research that the annual benefit to direct users of the data is around £2,000 per user per year and that overall, the annual user benefit of Companies House data is between £1 billion and £3 billion per year.
The UK has a beneficial ownership register including a People with Significant Control (PSC) register which is also the subject of this announcement.
Similar billion dollar estimates were made in Australia by the Financial System Inquiry Report of 2014 and the Productivity Commission’s 2017 Data Availability and Use in relation to the financial benefits of providing greater access to Australia’s data.