Beneficial Owners With Benefits of Secrecy

Between protecting privacy and preventing abuse

19 July 2022

Krzysztof Izdebski

Marcin Król Fellow

Data from the registers of beneficial owners is crucial for identifying money laundering, including Kremlin money, and yet we see some EU and Member State institutions moving towards keeping this data locked up.

The effective enforcement of sanctions against Kremlin-linked individuals and institutions depends on whether and to what extent a list of companies in which those holding shares can be established. Journalists and civil society organisations could play the role of those seeking such links, but this is not an easy task — and it is only getting worse.  Poorly conceived personal data protection is slowly closing off access to knowledge about the owners of companies registered in EU countries.

Editor’s Pick: Mirage of Anti-Corruption Policies in Poland

Before going on to discuss the current and likely future state of the law defining the relationship between company ownership transparency and the protection of the right to privacy, it is worth recalling several high-profile journalistic investigations that uncovered huge irregularities in the operation of companies. Significantly, it was journalists, not officials, who uncovered these scandals. 

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Krzysztof Izdebski

Marcin Król Fellow

Marcin Król Fellow 2021/2022 at Visegrad Insight and an expert at the Open Contracting Partnership and Stefan Batory Foundation. Member of Consul Democracy Foundation’s Council. He is a lawyer specialized in access to public information and re-use of public sector information. He is the author of publications on freedom of information, technology, public administration, corruption, and public participation. Dziennik Gazeta Prawna listed him as one of the 50 most influential Polish lawyers in 2020.

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