Transparence de la propriété bénéficiaire

Soumis par
Priya Sood

Créer un registre public centralisé des propriétaires bénéficiaires pour toutes les sociétés exploitées, enregistrées et cotées en bourse au Canada.

 

Le manque de transparence sur la propriété et le contrôle des sociétés est dans l'intérêt de ceux qui cherchent à cacher leur identité et à blanchir l'argent de la corruption grâce au système financier international.  Au Canada, les enquêtes sont souvent contrariées par l'incapacité des unités du renseignement financier et des organismes veillant à l'application de la loi à identifier le véritable propriétaire d'une société servant à cacher ou à camoufler des activités criminelles, surtout si ces renseignements sont détenus à l'étranger par des sociétés constituées ailleurs qu'au Canada.

 

Le fait d'obliger les sociétés canadiennes à fournir ces renseignements à un registre central ou à des registres provinciaux permet en outre à l'administration fiscale et aux organismes chargés de l'application de la loi de gagner du temps et d'enquêter sur la structure du capital social d'une entreprise sans que celle-ci sache qu'elle est sous enquête.

 

Le fait de mettre ces renseignements à la disposition du public présente des avantages : cela permet au public de les examiner, de gagner la confiance du public et de faire en sorte que les investisseurs, le marché et les autres entreprises sachent mieux à qui ils ont affaire.

 

Le Canada se classe actuellement au 70e rang pour ce qui est de l'accès à l'information sur les entreprises, derrière le Sri Lanka, le Salvador et Bahreïn (http://compass.arachnys.com/rankings.html). La création d'un registre public de la propriété bénéficiaire des sociétés est une étape vers la capacité de fournir aux autorités chargées de l'application de la loi, aux journalistes, aux organisations de la société civile et autres organismes canadiens des renseignements importants sur les sociétés.

 

Dans le Plan d'action du G8 sur la transparence des sociétés et des fiducies, le Canada s'est engagé à mettre en œuvre le Règlement sur le recyclage des produits de la criminalité et le financement des activités terroristes (RRPCFAT), qui va améliorer les mesures de diligence raisonnable, notamment celles qui sont liées aux renseignements sur la propriété bénéficiaire des sociétés et des fiducies.

 

En incluant cet engagement dans son Plan d'action 2.0, le Canada s'attaquera à deux défis majeurs mis en évidence par le Partenariat pour un gouvernement transparent : accroître l'intégrité publique et la responsabilité des sociétés.

Commentaires

Dennis Howlett, Canadians for Tax Fairness - 31 juillet 2014

We support action to improve beneficial ownership transparency in Canada. We are particularly interested in ways that Canadian governments (both federal and provincial) can ensure:
• Improved access to accurate and timely information for the pubic on beneficial ownership of corporations, including possibly through the establishment of a central repository of corporations incorporated under the Canada Business Corporations Act;
• Disclosure of ownership information regarding bearer shares and bearer share warrants; and
• Disclosure by nominee shareholders of information on the individuals for whom they are acting.

The Problem:
• Companies can easily hide their actual owner, it makes it that much easier to move and hide money or assets.
• This creates a safe haven for money laundering, tax evasion, sanction breaches, and corruption.
• It also enables other activities such as funding terrorism, hiding stolen goods, diverting government funds, and profiting off illegal activities.
• Canada currently ranks 70th in terms of ability to access information on companies, this is below Sri Lanka, El Salvador and Bahrain (http://compass.arachnys.com/rankings.html).
• In Canada, investigations are frequently frustrated by the inability of financial intelligence units (FIU's) and law enforcement to identify the true owner of a company being used to hide or conceal criminal activity, particularly where this information is held offshore by companies incorporated outside Canada.

How:
• Companies can be registered anonymously by listing another company as the owner and ensuring that company is registered somewhere where the information is not made public.
• Companies can also be legally registered in someone else’s name, even that of a stranger.
Solution:
• Create a centralized public registry of the beneficial ownership of all companies registered, operating, and traded in Canada in order to provide Canadian law authorities, journalists, civil society organizations and others with important corporate information.
• By requiring Canadian companies to provide this information to a central registry and/or provincial registries, there are additional benefits to tax authorities and law enforcement agencies in saving time and being able to investigate the ownership structure of a company without tipping off the company that they are under investigation.
• Making this information publicly available has the advantage of enabling public scrutiny, building public trust and ensuring investors, market actors and other entities are provided with greater transparency in their business dealings.

Jean Symes, Inter Pares - 27 juin 2014

Such a registry would help immensely in Inter Pares' support of people in developing countries who are working to ensure they benefit from the extraction of their natural resources, and to hold companies to account. It would pay for itself in reduced law enforcement, and make it much harder for companies to avoid taxes in Canada and in other countries around the world.

Claire Woodside - 19 juin 2014

Publish What You Pay has been actively campaigning in different jurisdictions around the world for the creation of public centralized registries of the beneficial owners of companies. The creation of a publicly available centralized register of the beneficial owners of companies has several important impacts:

1. Provide businesses with important information on their partners, investors, suppliers and customers.
2. Ensure that law enforcement and tax authorities, including those from outside Canada, have quick and guaranteed access to beneficial ownership information.
3. Allow citizens, journalists and others to hold companies to account.
4. Give financial institutions a good starting point when it comes to identifying their customers for anti-money laundering purposes.

The creation of a public registry is particularly important in the extractive sector, where evidence shows that shell companies have been frequently used to hide the identity of the company’s real owner, facilitating corruption and causing citizens of resource rich countries to lose out on revenue that could have been spent on education and health care. Recognizing this, the new Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standard recommends that implementing countries maintain a “a publicly available register of the beneficial owners of the corporate entities that bid for, operate or invest in extractive assets, including the identity of their beneficial owners and the level of ownership” (http://eiti.org/files/English_EITI%20STANDARD_11July_0.pdf).

The new EITI standard’s inclusion of a commitment to beneficial ownership is part of a growing international trend. In the UK’s most recent OGP Action Plan, they committed to “create a publicly accessible central registry of company beneficial ownership information.”

PWYP-Canada believes that the government of Canada should make a commitment to create a publicly available centralized registry of the beneficial owners of all companies registered, listed, and operating in Canada, both provincially and federally. Such a registry will not only help to greatly reduce law enforcement costs and increase conviction rates, but will enable greater corporate oversight by Canadian civil society organizations, government officials, parliamentarians, and journalists.