İrem GÖL -TDO- Most EU member states have failed to meet a legal deadline to introduce public registers of the real owners of the companies, a transparency measure seen as key to fighting money laundering, according to a review by anti-corruption campaigners. As a response to the Panama Papers scandal, in May 2018, the European Union passed a directive obliging members to publish the beneficial owners of firms registered in their jurisdictions by January this year.

Two months after the deadline and two years after governments were told to get new systems up and running, leading campaign group Global Witness has found only six countries have implemented public register systems that meet the transparency criteria set out in the EU directive.  After the Panama Papers scandal, the British government under David Cameron mounted an international push to encourage countries to publish transparent data. The UK, which committed to comply with the directive despite leaving the EU, now provides free, searchable and bulk download access to beneficial ownership data through Companies House. However, the remaining member states have either failed to create registers, or have imposed various artificial hurdles inhibiting gull public access.

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