SUBMISSION – TO THE DATA ECONOMY UNIT CONSULTATION PROCESS ON THE MODERNISING BUSINESS REGISTERS PROGRAM

25 March 2021

SUBMISSION – TO THE DATA ECONOMY UNIT CONSULTATION PROCESS ON THE MODERNISING BUSINESS REGISTERS PROGRAM

Transparency International Australia has identified the improvements needed to ensure Australia’s corporate register is fit for purpose. This will require substantive changes to ensure a robust approach to due diligence – which is currently lacking. We are pleased to see that momentum has built and the MBR Program has been announced.

We welcome this consultation process to ensure the MBR Program will deliver the reforms that Australia needs to help tackle money laundering and corporate misconduct.

A well-designed and fit-for-purpose corporate register will help prevent people who have been involved in corruption and other illegal activities from registering companies in Australia. In order to help achieve this Australia needs to:

1. Remove excessive costs and allow free access to the register;

2. Close the loophole allowing the anonymous appointment of directors and beneficial shareholders;

3. Verify current data and collect additional data to properly identify and know the individuals registering;

4. Establish a centralised public beneficial ownership register; and

5. Establish a trust register and require full disclosure of beneficial owners and ultimate beneficiaries.

The way these issues are addressed will impact the effectiveness and credibility of the register system with the private sector and the wider community.