Beneficial Ownership of Companies: Out of the Shadows

Recent headlines have carried the news that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission wants to have its own provision on beneficial ownership in the MACC Act 2009 to identify real owners of businesses or properties to further eradicate corruption. This is also against a backdrop of the Panama Papers, and the Paradise Papers.

There is already an existing provision in the Companies Act 2016 (CA 2016) that deals with beneficial ownership. But perhaps, it does not go far enough.

It is important to identify the beneficial owner of a legal entity such as a company, a trust or a partnership. This will ensure tax transparency, and help to fight against tax evasion and financial crimes such as money laundering or terrorism financing. The true controllers of companies will be brought out of the shadows.

I set out some global trends, and I explain the existing Malaysian provision under the Companies Act 2016 (CA 2016) and the possible direction going forward.

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