German parliament votes to put the brakes on transparency

May 19th, 2017


Amid a growing worldwide movement for beneficial ownership transparency, Germany’s lower house of parliament passed a severely weakened bill on company ownership on Thursday night. The bill, meant to transpose the European Union Anti-Money Laundering Directive into German law, would keep the country’s register closed, only offering data to investigative authorities and organizations deemed by the government to have a ‘legitimate interest’ in the information. The bill now goes to Germany’s upper house of parliament for a final vote.

Porter McConnell, Director of the Financial Transparency Coalition, put out the following statement:

Presented with a chance to show the rest of Europe where they stand on transparency, Germany just blew it.

This year was an opportunity for the German government to lead the transparency drive in Brussels, as member states debate expanding the European Union’s Anti-Money Laundering Directive, and at home, where they’ll host the G20 Summit. Instead, they’ve passed legislation that may face legal challenges from the European Commission for failing to comply with the current directive.

The state of play is clear: transparency is coming. Dozens of countries have either committed to or already implemented public registers of company ownership, and Germany’s backtracking only serves to alienate it from its EU peers. With this vote, the largest economy in Europe has chosen to position itself on the wrong side of history.


Notes to Editors
  • The vote in the Bundestag occurred on 18 May. Before becoming law, the bill must be voted on in Germany’s upper house of parliament and signed by the President.
  • Analysis of the bill and its implications from FTC member Tax Justice Network can be found here.
  • More on beneficial ownership can be found here.

Christian Freymeyer, +1.410.490.6850,

Written by Financial Transparency Coalition

Image used under Creative Commons license / Flickr User Thomas Quine

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