Money laundering, terrorism cited for shareholder list

The executive branch now says that it needs a list of all the shareholders in Costa Rican corporations to prevent fraud, money laundering and the financing of terrorists.

The finance ministry, which is battling hard for lawmakers to pass such measure, cited a report from the  little known Grupo de Acción Financiera de Latinoamérica in a release Tuesday. The group said that Costa Rica needs to tighten the controls it has over  sociedades anónimas and other commercial structures.

Some lawmakers and representatives of the business community object to the idea that firms will have to keep the Ministerio de Hacienda informed of the names of their shareholders. The requirement to create such a list is contained in tax fraud legislation being considered in the legislature.

The  Grupo de Acción Financiero de Latinoamérica issued 40 recommendations about the difficulty in tracking the real owners of corporations and those who profit from them, said the ministry.

Currently most corporations maintain lists of their shareholders, but these are not public. Only the names of management appear in the public record. However, in order to be listed by the government as a small or medium enterprise and take advantage of such programs, companies must disclose their shareholders under oath.

Tax investigators can get shareholder information on a case-by-case basis.

The ministry also receiveddd support from the Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas and various international financial institutions.

Guillermo Araya, director general of the drug institute, was quoted saying that it is imperative to change the mentality and break paradigms that make investigations difficult.
He was speaking of money laundering and the financing of terrorism,.

He also spoke about the abusive creation and sale of  sociedades anónimas without lawyers knowing the real activity of clients.

The ministry warned that without the legislation the country would lose international standing and be placed on gray lists regarding its financial status.

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