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Using Slovakia’s Beneficial Ownership Register for Impact

El uso del registro de beneficiarios reales de Eslovaquia para generar impacto

Utilisation du registre relatif à la propriété effective de la Slovaquie afin de produire des effets

Lessons from Reformers

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

Along with Denmark, Slovakia was one of the first countries to publish beneficial ownership information. The Slovakian register was established in 2015 for companies participating in public procurement processes. Companies can be banned for up to three years and face fines reaching one million euros if they participate in procurement without first registering.

Verifying the data provided by the 11,000 companies and 16,000 owners in the register, and enforcing non-compliance, has been a challenge. Two key obstacles were that 1) no official documentation was required when companies submitted their filings and 2) the register was not linked with the country’s broader business registry. Still, one in four companies included a beneficial owner that was not previously listed in their filing with Slovakia’s business register.

Civil society organizations in Slovakia have used the register to analyze the available data, identifying networks of companies that have the same beneficial owner(s). This includes finding that 190 of the listed beneficial owners are actually public officials (who might have a conflict of interest when it comes to procurements). The register has also been used by local organizations to verify whether companies were indeed providing information on their beneficial owners as part of winning public contracts. In March 2016, it was found that the public news agency TASR had signed a contract for a computer upgrade worth 110,000 euros with a company that had not provided its beneficial owner. The same was true for two contracts awarded by a local government. When the new register was launched in 2017, a state-run rail operator was forced to withdraw from a highly criticized 50-year lease of the country’s main train station when citizens discovered that the contractor did not provide information on its beneficial owner.

Civil society groups and the media have also used Slovakia’s registry to reveal an allegedly serious conflict of interest involving the prime minister, who is listed as one of the beneficial owners of a company in the Czech Republic that has received €75 million in EU subsidies for delivering various public works.


Photo Credit: Elena Shchipkova, Adobe Stock

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