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Civil society strengthened by new EU anti-money laundering directive

17 December 2014

One of the goals of the NHC is to enhance the capacity of civil society and strengthen its civil control over governments and institutions. As member of the EU – Russia Civil Society Forum (CSF), the NHC leads an Expert Group on Fighting Transborder Corruption, which aspires to address and fight the problem of so-called transborder corruption from the viewpoint of the Human Dimension and from positions of civil society. The possibilities for civil society organizations to monitor financial transactions might improve under a new agreement reached in the European Commission regarding the EU anti-money laundering directive.

The reached agreement entails that the ultimate beneficial owners of companies are to be listed in public registers in EU countries, accessible to people with a legitimate interest, such as investigative journalists and other concerned citizens. The aim is to make it more difficult for tax evaders, money launderers and other criminals to hide behind anonymous financial constructions. The new agreement will provide civil society organizations with more instruments to track financial transactions, thus empowering them in the fight against corruption.

Following this agreement, Tim van der Maarel, NHC project officer and coordinator of the Expert Group, was asked for his opinion on this new agreement by the German newspaper Deutsche Welle. In an interview he called the reached agreement an important step in the fight against corruption: “Thanks to the public register of Ultimate Beneficiary Owners, it will become easier for civil society activists and investigative journalists to see who really is behind certain financial structures, and to expose schemes of corruption. It will become more difficult for criminals both within and outside the European Union to hide behind faceless and opaque structures.”