Madrid, 1 March 2017 – Access Info Europe has welcomed yesterday’s vote by the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs and Civil Liberties committees to strengthen beneficial ownership transparency rules across the European Union.

The amendments to the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive agreed by MEPs would mean EU citizens could access registers of beneficial owners of companies and trusts without having to demonstrate a “legitimate interest” something that will make it easier for investigative journalists and anti-corruption watchdogs to track down illegal activity, organised crime, money laundering and large-scale tax evasion.

Only full transparency of beneficial ownership registers across Europe will help to tackle the kind of corruption and tax abuse that appalled the public when it was revealed in the Panama Papers,” stated Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.

The scope of the directive has also been expanded to cover trusts and “other types of legal arrangements having a structure or functions similar to trusts.” Whilst these legal structures were previously excluded on grounds of protecting privacy, they will now have to identify beneficial owners just like any other company.

Access Info Europe, in a coordinated action, sent letters endorsed by 40 civil society organisations to numerous MEPs calling upon them to support the pro-transparency amendments in both committees prior to the vote.

The Parliament must now ensure that these positions are not watered down by member states in the upcoming secret trilogue negotiations,” added Darbishire.

The three EU institutions (European Parliament, Commission and Council) will discuss the changes to the Directive in upcoming trilogue meetings. Access Info has regularly expressed concerns about the closed nature of trilogues and the fact that they exclude a key step in EU legislative decision-making from participation and accountability.

For more information, please contact:

Luisa Izuzquiza, Communications Officer | Access Info Europe
Andreas Pavlou, Campaigner and Researcher | Access Info Europe

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