On September 20, Transparency International Estonia (TI Estonia) will organise a seminar Beneficial Ownership Transparency: What and Who For? with the aim to boost awareness and build capacity of civil society actors on the role that beneficial ownership information plays in anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.
“As an EU member state, we have first and foremost a duty and then responsibility to ensure that the data of the actual beneficiaries of legal entities is reliable, public and easily accessible in order to prevent corruption and financial irregularities and to stop concealment and legalisation of criminal proceeds or other assets of unclear origin. This is not only based on the needs of the financial sector and law enforcement, but the initiatives and actions of investigative journalism and the third sector also play an important part here,” explained Steven-Hristo Evestus, Chairman of the Board of TI Estonia.
The seminar takes place within the project Civil Society Advancing Beneficial Ownership Transparency (CSABOT) that implements European Commission’s “Preparatory Action - Capacity building, programmatic development, and communication in the context of the fight against money laundering and financial crimes”.
CSABOT is a key opportunity for promoting greater and more comprehensive use of beneficial ownership data by civil society actors - including non-governmental organisations (NGOs), journalists, academia and trade unions.
“When we talk about beneficial ownership registers, we must ensure that the dataset and the data itself do not differ in terms of quality. Lack of information and access to the data of the real beneficiaries favours the spread of money laundering schemes, the use of influence over policy-making and it undermines the pillars of democracy at both the local and national level. Beneficial ownership data is not only a tool for the financial sector and law enforcement agencies, but should also be at the service of investigative journalism and civil society,” added Evestus.
With the seminar, TI Estonia intends to bring together stakeholders from different sectors and thereby increase the understanding of the needs and wishes of other actors, and to come up with solutions on how to improve the usability and standards of beneficial ownership data in Estonia. Key issues, such as the verification of and access to the data will be explored and use cases and good practices will be discussed.
In addition to the representatives of investigative journalism, Veronika Mets from the Council of Europe, Maira Martini from Transparency International, Henrik Mägi from the Ministry of Finance and Laima Letina from the Latvian NGO Finance Latvia will speak at the seminar. The seminar will be moderated by Steven-Hristo Evestus as the representative of TI Estonia.
“Civil Society Advancing Beneficial Ownership Transparency (CSABOT) is a project that implements the Preparatory Action – Capacity Building Programmatic Development and Communication in the Context of the Fight against Money Laundering and Financial Crimes. This project is performed by Transparency International Secretariat (TI-S), together with Tax Justice Network (TJN), Transcrime – Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Transcrime – UCSC) and the Government Transparency Institute (GTI), under a contract with the European Union represented by the European Commission. The opinions expressed are those of the contractors only and do not present an official view of the European Commission.”