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Ukraine’s National Beneficial Ownership Register Goes Global

El registro nacional de beneficiarios reales de Ucrania se globaliza

Le registre national de la propriété effective en Ukraine s’ouvre au monde

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Lessons from Reformers

This case study was originally posted in the OGP Global Report.

The government of Ukraine committed to an open registry as part of its 2016–2018 OGP action plan (which also reflects country commitments made as part of the OGP Paris Declaration and the Anti-Corruption Summit in 2016). This built on the provisions set out by the State Anti-Corruption Policy of Ukraine (2014–2017), which emphasized the importance of tackling anonymous owners as part of combating corruption.

The policy was enacted into a series of five laws, which included the creation of a free, open, and centralized company register: the Unified State Register. According to the government, about 330,000 companies–or approximately 20% of all registered companies–disclosed information about their ultimate beneficial owners by the end of 2018. The register is under the authority of the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for its governance and policy. The government is working with a local NGO, TI-Ukraine, to carry out these efforts.

Ukraine was also the first country to commit to integrating its national register with the global OpenOwnership Register. Such coordination across registers is critical for being able to triangulate, verify, and act on data. The arrest in October 2018 of a former “high profile” Ukrainian in France was facilitated by using such data from other sources to track him back as the beneficial owner of a Luxembourg company that was used to purchase a French castle worth €3 million. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office is also attempting to use beneficial ownership registers to trace back an estimated US$5.5 billion in assets looted from the country’s largest bank when it was nationalized in November 2016.

Today, the government continues to make progress on beneficial ownership transparency. Since September 2018, companies are required to report the percentage of each beneficial owner’s interest, the type of ownership, information about intermediate companies (i.e., the ownership structure), and a reasoned explanation if no beneficial ownership is identified. In addition, the information must be updated each time a company changes its information on the register (as opposed to only at the time of company creation). Ukraine is also the first OGP country to make a commitment explicitly focused on improving the verification of beneficial ownership information, and is currently addressing this issue as part of its 2018–2020 action plan.

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