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Transparency vs Privacy

Transparency vs Privacy

Beneficial Ownership Concealment, Avoidance And Impunity: The Chimeric And The Ethereal.

Advocate Paul Beckett
Visiting Research Fellow, School of Law Oxford Brookes University; Senior Counsel, MannBenham Advocates Limited Douglas, Isle of Man

For decades, transparency was obscured through the use of multi-part structures, layering trusts, foundations and companies, using nominees and men of straw to pose as owners or controllers. The introduction, at the suggestion of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), of the now almost universal marker of ownership – the 25 per cent threshold – and the requirement to declare beneficial ownership to national authorities, has not proven particularly effective. [1] It is the work of a moment to adjust a holding to 24.99 per cent.

Perhaps sensing that time is running out for such games, the offshore financial services industry has raised the campaign for beneficial ownership concealment and avoidance to a whole new level, creating ownerless ‘chimeric’ entities and, in the case of the adaptation of blockchain and cryptocurrency transactions, literally moving to a higher, meta-jurisdictional plane. [2]

Chimeric Entities

Obscurity is made all the easier, and impunity all the more likely, by the very nature of the solutions employed, which are little known and even less well understood. They are mostly referred to by regulators, law enforcers and academics alike in merely generic terms. But this will not do.

Not only structures but also concepts follow a different evolutionary path offshore. There can be unintended and unforeseen (or fortuitous) consequences when a legislative initiative, developed onshore, transfers to a low tax jurisdiction.

Simply castigating ‘offshore trusts’ and ‘shell companies’ without sp…

Transparency vs Privacy

Fostering Greater Tax Transparency And Exchange Of Information Globally

Zayda Manatta
Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes

The effective implementation of international standards requiring jurisdictions to exchange information for tax purposes is a reality that would have been mere utopia fifteen years ago. While progress in tax transparency has been massive in terms of impact and revenue, international co-operation continues to broaden the scope of these standards. Work by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum) is ongoing to ensure the global playing field and the benefits of tax transparency for all jurisdictions.


Political momentum on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes slowly rose at the end of the 1990s [1]. Following the subprime crisis of 2007 and the financial scandals that followed, the G20 mandated a restructured Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum) in April 2009 to ensure the effective exchange of information (EOI) for tax purposes between jurisdictions.

Close to fifteen years later, the international tax cooperation landscape has been totally transformed with two EOI standards fully implemented, and the Crypto-Asset Reporting Framework (CARF) at the early stage of implementation. The EOI implementation has been truly global, and ensures that the level playing field is respected. While fifteen years ago, exchange of banking account information was impossible for many jurisdictions around the globe due to strict banking secrecy, information on over 123 million financial accounts was exchanged automatic…