Naomi Fowler ■ The 3rd International Conference on Beneficial Ownership Registries in Buenos Aires
As we mentioned recently on our blog the 3rd International Conference on Beneficial Ownership Registries took place in Buenos Aires on June 21st-22nd at Argentina’s Central Bank. This was another successful event attended by the Tax Justice Network’s Andres Knobel, who reports back to us here on the dicussions there:More than 150 people participated in the event which brought together authorities, civil society organisations, the private sector, academia, the media and for the first time, experts in blockchain technology and bitcoin.
Panelists included tax authorities from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, Latin American media, Argentinian officers from the commercial registry, anti-corruption agency, law enforcement, general prosecution office, the foreign ministry, security ministry, modernisation ministry, the small-and-medium enterprises Secretary, the real estate registry, judges, prosecutors, and regional bodies including GAFILAT (Latin America’s Financial Action Task Force or FATF) and a member of the European Parliament. In addition to the Tax Justice Network and Fundacion SES (both members of the Financial Transparency Coalition) civil society organisations attending also included Argetina’s CIPCE (Centre for the Investigation and Prevention of Economic Crime) and ACIJ, (Civil Association for equality and justice) working on corruption, money laundering, asset recovery and the financing of political parties. IT experts included investigators on crypto-currencies and a fintech startup.
The agenda (in Spanish) is available here. Here’s a summary of what happened:
Panel 1 presented on regulatory developments at G20 and EU level (4th AML Directive and proposals for the 5th one), explained the obligations of countries and financial institutions under the FATF anti-money laundering recommendations, and identified loopholes regarding beneficial ownership (BO) definitions and thresholds, proposing the use of technology to verify beneficial ownership information.
Panel 2 presented on the current information requirements, including new rules on Beneficial Ownership, for legal entities and trusts to Argentina’s Securities Exchange Commission (CNV), tax authorities and the commercial registry, explaining the features of the regime for simplified joint-stock companies (SAS) for entrepreneurs to be ready in 24 hours with a tax identification number and bank account.
Panel 3 described the media’s technical obstacles for processing and analysing public data as well as creative, even manual, ways of debugging and obtaining data in order to generate news and knowledge. Specific research was discussed on corruption in Senate spending, the construction of motorways in Peru, the risks of Argentina’s new fiscal amnesty, and more rudimentary ways of obtaining information in drug trafficking cases.
Panel 4 described the processes of digitalisation of data to facilitate state procedures, including for the incorporation of Argentina’s new fast-tracked creation of companies, SAS, and explained the risks of anonymity or pseudo-anonymity of crypto-coins (e.g. bitcoins), explaining that international cooperation is key to identifying those responsible for crypto-coin crime and there is an urgent need for local regulation.
Panel 5 looked at Brazil’s Lava-Jato case on corruption and money laundering, obstacles to asset recovery investigations, including the use of bitcoins, and lack of compliance with the law on the financing of political parties.
Panel 6 described the need to obtain information on Beneficial Ownership for judicial inquiries, circular (and absurd) obstacles to obtaining information from other public agencies, the lack of much needed registries, for example on bankruptcy cases within the country as a whole, and the obstacles to obtaining information from foreign registries and authorities.
Panel 7 described the mechanisms and limitations by which financial institutions, lawyers and other professionals identify the Beneficial Ownership of their clients, the difficulties in obtaining information and being able to act in a timely manner for the seizure of assets related to economic crime, cross-checking information in order to detect irregularities and faults in asset declarations of public officials, and the current mechanisms for obtaining and sharing information between the real estate property registries of the country, both among themselves and with other State agencies.
We’re now collecting feedback and planning the 4th conference for next year.