The finance ministry is citing rules by international organizations as reasons for passage of a law that would require companies to report to the government the names of their shareholders.
This is perhaps the most controversial part of a proposed law on tax fraud. The Ministerio de Hacienda issued a lengthy statement Friday supporting its position.
The ministry said that the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development and its Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Tax Information require the country to set up a data base.
Currently the ministry can request the information from specific companies. However, the proposed law would require that companies keep updating a list of shareholders or others with beneficial interest in the company. This list would be
within the ministry’s computers.
Although the ministry promises top security for the information, a lot of business leaders and lawmakers are not sure, particularly in light of high profile hacking of data bases in other countries.
Costa Rica is trying to become a full member of the Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development and said that such a shareholder list is required by the international organizations.
In Costa Rica, sociedades anonimas, the typical corporate setup, does not have to have shareholders in management roles. Consequently, the shareholders can be secret.
However, the company would have to report all but very modest dividend payments each year.
The international organizations are worried about citizens of other countries using anonymous corporations to hold secret assets.