ActionAid Australia’s Head of Campaigns, Lucy Manne, said:
“Shell companies and trusts like those named in the Paradise Papers have been called the getaway cars for the world’s criminal and corrupt, hitting low income countries the hardest, draining them of hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue every year. This means governments lack funds to provide healthcare, education and essential services for women, entrenching gender inequality and rights violations.
“It’s essential the Turnbull Government takes action to increase transparency in our tax system, starting with a public register of a beneficial ownership. This policy would reveal the true owners of anonymous companies and trusts, shining a light on the tax dodging, corruption, and money-laundering that these structures facilitate.”
The Government conducted a consultation on beneficial ownership transparency in February 2017, but have since failed to make any concrete commitments. This is despite global progress towards public registers of beneficial ownership in forty-five countries, and the establishment of such a measure in the UK.
ActionAid Australia has been campaigning for a register of beneficial ownership since June this year. Research commissioned by the organisation has shown that 80% of the Australian public strongly support the Government taking significant action to eradicate tax dodging and hold multinational corporations to account.
“In the wake of the Paradise Papers revelations, we must ask why the Turnbull Government is dragging its feet on introducing a public register of beneficial ownership.
“The ALP and the Greens have publicly announced their support for a public register of beneficial ownership that has already proved highly valuable in shedding light on corporate structures in the UK, and it’s time for the Turnbull Government to step up and match this commitment.”
ActionAid Australia is calling on the Government to take prompt action by immediately committing to a register of beneficial ownership that is publicly accessible and open that would reveal the individual owners of both companies and trusts.