A global asset register is a proposal to create a comprehensive international registry of all wealth and assets, along with their real beneficial owners. It could take the form of a networked resource linking up national asset registries around the world.
By providing a centralised global resource detailing who owns what, and where they own it, a global asset register would provide a means to record, measure, and understand the distribution of global wealth and thereby empower regulatory authorities with a thorough and detailed understanding of global inequality. This would in turn allow national and international authorities to develop effective taxation policies and regimes so as to redress these inequalities.
In order to be effective, a global asset register would have to:
- Include information on wealth, real estate, financial assets, gold, and other types of value.
- Include information about the beneficial owner of assets (rather than holding companies or anonymous shell companies owing assets on paper).
- Make all information available in open data format, or at the very least as machine-readable data, so as to allow information to be analysed and cross-checked.
By imposing meaningful transparency on the state of global wealth, a global asset register would also strike a decisive blow against international organised crime by significantly reducing the opacity that is crucial to the continued functioning of illicit financial flows.
As things currently stand, high levels of secrecy shrouding the true owners of wealth and assets facilitates massive flows of illicit finance while also providing fertile ground for abusive international tax practices, and hindering the implementation of democratic principles in governance. By fostering historic levels of inequality, at both the national and international levels, the current regime of global secrecy furthermore undermines social cohesion and fuels political instability.