Central Bank says it is ready to maintain a list of company shareholders

The Banco Central is ready to maintain a list of corporation shareholders if lawmakers ask the institution to do so, according to Olivier Castro Pérez, central bank president.

Castro told lawmakers Wednesday that the bank would have to assess a fee for users of the service, however. He praised the bank’s technology and noted that it now operates the  Sistema de Pagos Públicos, the interbank payment system that includes 90 institutions.

The Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Hacendarios was hearing the bank president in regards to bill No. 19.245, which addresses tax fraud. Lawmakers already have agreed to put the measure on a fast track for approval.

The  Instituto Costarricense contra las Drogas and the Dirección General de Tributación, the tax collector, are anxious to see the bill passed.

The tax agency has said it plans to use the list of shareholders to embargo assets of people behind on their taxes. Of course, the agency also would be aware of dividends.

The matter of listing the names of all shareholders, even in a supposedly secret system, is a hot-button issue. Right now corporation papers lists officers, but someone could own most of the stock and not be listed.

However, firms that do business with the government have to provide a list of shareholders to avoid conflicts of interest.

Guillermo Araya Camacho of the Instituto Costarricense contra las Drogas told lawmakers that the measure was a necessity for the country.

Various international organizations, including the Grupo de Acción Financiera Internacional, are seeking to have the country make public the final beneficiaries of corporations.

In response to concerns that the private information will become public and be used  against the shareholders, lawmakers are specifying that a judge be appointed to handle claims that privacy has been breached.

However, a lot of business operators are more concerned with crooks getting ahold of the shareholder data to find out who has money.

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