Finance ministers representing G7 countries meeting at the Italian town of Bari this month have issued a declaration that sends a clear signal to authorities worldwide that they want beneficial ownership of companies and assets transparently disclosed.

The Bari Declaration on Fighting Tax Crimes and Other Illicit Financial Flows also calls for more effective inter-agency and international co-operation.

International progress

The ministers said they would continue to work to ensure access to beneficial ownership information for tax authorities, financial intelligence units and law enforcement agencies.

They said they welcome the work by the Financial Action Task Force and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes on reinforcing inter-agency and international cooperation, in particular on beneficial ownership information.

OECD concerns

But the ministers said they wanted to see forward progress on the work by the OECD in complementary tax areas relating to beneficial ownership.

They pointed out that the last report they received from the OECD Task Force on Tax Crime and Other Crimes was its 2013 report on Effective Inter-agency Co-operation in Fighting Tax Crimes and Other Financial Crimes. They said they looked forward to an update, and called for the OECD to report back at the next G7 finance ministers’ meeting.

Holistic approach

Overall, the ministers said they support a holistic approach to fighting tax and financial crime based on effective inter-agency and international co-operation, especially through improved access to and effective exchange of information, with consideration of domestic circumstances.

The ministers also said they want to support capacity strengthening in developing countries in the fight against tax crimes and other illicit financial flows.

They welcomed new initiatives in this area, like the establishment by the OECD of the Africa Academy for Tax and Financial Crime Investigation in Kenya.