European Parliament Backs Tougher Financial Registry Rules
The European Parliament voted on Thursday to set up public registers to identify company owners.
Such measures are hoped to help in the fight with shell companies and trusts, which are considered harmful to European and world economy.
Under the new plan, banks and financial institutions, auditors, lawyers, accountants, notaries, trusts and real estate agents would be obliged to provide the names of the companies' ultimate owners to national authorities, who for their part will have to put them into the registers.
The new rules would not involve owners of gambling activities, casino proprietors excluded. MEPs cited "lower risk of money-laundering" as a reason for a looser regulation of the sector.
Interlinked registers in each member state are expected to make the current system more efficient, as organizations would be able to easily verify the beneficial ownership of potential clients.
The aim declared by the MEPs is for each member state to list the ultimate owners of companies and trusts in publicly accessible online business registers, the EUObserver has reported.
Plans for scaling back tax evasion and illicit activity seem to have gathered much support from leftist, centre-right and rightist groups in parliament, as Dutch Green MEP Judith Sargentini explained.
The regulation proposals will likely be voted as a draft law before European elections in May. It is yet unclear when they could be agreed among all EU member states.