Ottawa moves to create corporate ownership registry to stem financial crimes – National

The Federal Liberals are pushing ahead with plans to create a Canadian ownership register after promising to increase transparency about who owns and controls businesses.

François-Philippe Champagne Minister of Industry has introduced a bill to create a register of beneficial owners of companies.

Future registries are expected to make it easier to identify the owners of companies engaged in money laundering, financial crime and tax evasion.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s power of attorney to Champagne after the last federal election contained instructions to create such a register.

The Liberal Party’s 2021 budget spent $2.1 million over two years “to help implement a publicly accessible corporate beneficial owner register by 2025.”

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But a supply confidence pact between the Liberals and the New Democrats signed a year ago called for a faster timeline.

The federal government pledged to implement a registry by the end of 2023, in which the NDP endorsed the government in key votes in exchange for moves on the NDP’s priorities.

In a statement, NDP financial commentator Daniel Blaiky said his party would “make it more difficult for wealthy tax evaders, corrupt businessmen and licensed Russian oligarchs to hide their assets in Canada.” In order to do so, he said he was promoting the creation of a registry.

In 2020, the federal government held public consultations with various stakeholders, including law enforcement, tax authorities, and industry groups, and found that nearly all agreed with the idea of ​​creating a registry.

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At a technical briefing with reporters Wednesday night, government officials said the new registry would make it easier for law enforcement to track people suspected of financial crimes because possession information has already been made public. I got

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“One of the benefits of a centralized registry is that police can launch investigations without leaking information … the villains,” says Martin, senior director of business, bankruptcy, and competition policy at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Simard said.

It also increases accountability as information becomes public and available to citizens, journalists and non-profits, he said.

If the bill is passed, businesses will be given time to learn about the new registries and provide the information they need to comply, Simard said. Companies found to be non-compliant will be fined $5,000.

Directors, officers and shareholders who undermine future new regimes are subject to fines of $200,000, six months in prison, or both.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

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