Ukraine opened up its beneficial ownership data: why it matters and how your country can be next

On May 22, Ukraine signed up to become the first country to integrate its national central register of beneficial ownership with the OpenOwnership Register. This means that Ukraine’s beneficial ownership data will be automatically available on the OpenOwnership Register, which links beneficial ownership data from around the world.

OpenOwnership’s goal is to mainstream high-quality, global beneficial ownership data, and as part of this we are piloting a program to integrate with national beneficial ownership registers. We provide in-kind technical assistance on the technology underpinning the central register, and support in implementing our data standard.

Ukraine is the first country to participate in this pilot. As a result, they will become pioneers in providing beneficial ownership as open data in a form that will allow it to be linked globally. According to Transparency International (TI) Ukraine, integration with OpenOwnership is a ‘breakthrough’ – not least because Ukraine’s beneficial ownership data is currently only available for a fee.

By joining the Global Registry, the Ukrainian government is making significant progress in its  fulfillment of commitments it has made within the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan of 2016-2018, the Paris Declaration, and the final documents of the Anti-Corruption Summit in London 2016, in terms of identifying the ultimate beneficial owners. Opening up the beneficial ownership data implies significant movement forward for its commitment under the National Action Plan on verification of information in the beneficial ownership registry. The Government of Ukraine and TI-Ukraine will undertake commitments to work in the spheres of ending abuse of anonymous companies, open public procurement, and creating permanent dialogue mechanisms with civil society to advance implementation.

This is a big win for the principles of transparency and accountability, not just for Ukraine but also the world. The more the OpenOwnership Register is populated with data, the more we will be able to track the transnational flows of corporate profit -- and the more the opaque jurisdictions, where money launderers are likely to hide, will be subject to public scrutiny.

The hard work is just beginning, however. In coming months, OpenOwnership, the government of Ukraine, and TI-Ukraine will have to ensure that Ukraine’s beneficial ownership data is consistent with OpenOwnership’s data standard. We will have to work together to build a technical solution to integrate the registers.

These critical and linked efforts will require the energy and commitment of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the Ministry of Justice, the State Agency for E-Governance, technical implementers, and the continued expertise and feedback of civil society. This initiative is another great example of how government and civil society in Ukraine have been working together to develop this new mechanism, but also collaborate on implementation and monitoring. The Ministry of Justice, the State Agency for E-Governance and Transparency International Ukraine are also members of the newly formed OGP Coordination Council, the multistakeholder forum comprising of government agencies and civil society who will coordinate the OGP process in Ukraine, including the implementation of the current National Action Plan.

The OpenOwnership Register currently has data from the UK’s Persons of Significant Control (PSC) Register, Slovakia’s Register of Public Sector Partners, and Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative reports. Integration is not only available for national central registers, but also for procurement systems, corporate due diligence systems, and beneficial ownership registers being implemented by subnational governments.

Authors: Zosia Sztykowski
Filed Under: Impact