The members of the European Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) reviewed, on 9 January, the amendments submitted to the proposal for a directive on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing. The proposed amendments focused on the entities to be targeted by the new rules and also on the circle of those who would have access to such information. Rapporteur Krisjanis Karins (EPP, Latvia) said he was happy to see a broad consensus among MEPs on the need for a public register.

The crux of the debate was how public this register should be - and the participants were divided on this point. Co-rapporteur Judith Sargentini (Greens-EFA, the Netherlands) stated that she feels "encouraged by the broad agreement on the need for a public register". Although she preferred not to enter into details on how public she thinks this register should be, she stated that data protection is of utmost importance.

All but a few deputies who spoke seemed to be in favour of the principle of a public register, but also cited data protection and data retention issues, and lamented over who should be allowed to access the register. Peter Simon (S&D, Germany) advocated a completely open register fully accessible to the general public, citing the need for greater transparency.

A public register would hold information on the beneficial owners of all companies. The beneficial owner is the person who may enjoy the benefits of ownership though does not nominally own the asset. The need for accurate information on who the beneficial owner is is crucial in keeping track...

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