Globally there has been an increasing focus on the need for transparency in business, especially in relation to ownership. A key example of this is the introduction of the 4th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive (4th AML Directive). Among other measures designed to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, the 4th AML Directive required EU member states to set up registers of the ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs) of entities.
Under the 4th AML Directive, member states were not required to make the beneficial ownership register publicly available. Based on the latest amendment of this directive (5th EU AML Directive), however, register for EU companies will be made accessible to the general public in early 2020 and the register for trusts and similar arrangements will be made public to persons with a legitimate interest later in the year 2020.
Furthermore, non EU-countries, such as the BVI, Cayman Islands or Liechtenstein have established beneficial owner registers too, which are, however, not publicly accessible.