Juncker Responds to Letter Sent by Investigative Journalists from Around the World

December 12th, 2014

13598001865_9dd7e6a541_zJean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, has just responded to a letter sent to him by more than 40 leading investigative journalists. The letter urged President Juncker to ensure the creation of public registers of beneficial ownership information as part of the ongoing negotiations of the EU’s 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive. Beneficial ownership information would provide authorities, journalists, and civil society with information on who actually owns or profits from a company. The European Parliament already approved such registers overwhelmingly in March, with a vote of 643-30. 

Juncker’s response to the journalists seemed to give a grim outlook on the possibility of publicly accessible registers, as Nick Mathiason of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism writes:

Jean-Claude Juncker appears this morning to have distanced himself from making registers setting out the true owners of companies and other legal entities accessible to journalists and NGOs in a letter sent to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism at City University in London .

The EU Commission president’s stance will spark deep unease from anti-corruption campaigners.

In the letter to the Bureau, the EU Commission president wrote: “In the ongoing talks on the Commission proposals our negotiators support provisions of enhanced transparency and call for systems of access to beneficial ownership information including clarification on the possibility of access by third parties who demonstrate a justified legitimate interest.”

The statement will be seen as falling short on an outright endorsement that registers will be open to all.

The concerned parties negotiating will hold another “trilogue” meeting next week, and it’s possible that a compromise text will be agreed to then. We only hope that the compromise includes a space for publicly accessible registers on the real owners of companies.

Image used under Creative Commons licensing / Flickr User European People’s Party

Written by Christian Freymeyer

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