STEP supports the principle of effective measures to combat money laundering.
We have worked constructively with national governments, international entities such as the EU and other third parties to develop practical and effective mechanisms to combat money laundering.
We believe that the enforcement of rigorous standards on trust and company service providers has a key role to play in combatting money laundering. However all enforcement must be practical and proportionate and should avoid becoming too burdensome for the supervisor.
It is important that measures to combat money laundering respect families’ basic rights to legitimate confidentiality in their financial and personal affairs and ensure that sensitive financial information is not vulnerable to abuse.
We have concerns regarding publicly accessible registers of beneficial owners of family trusts: many such trusts are created to protect the interests of vulnerable family members who will be at high risk of abuse of information if their financial status is widely available to the public. Any information should only be accessed if it is deemed as ‘necessary’ by the relevant authority.
We advocate that rigorous safeguards and robust mechanisms must be in place where information is accessible to anyone other than the competent authority.