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NorthRow: The Challenge of Beneficial Ownership – How to Unravel Complex Money Laundering Webs

Identifying Ultimate Beneficial Owners can be challenging for many regulated firms. Financial criminals are adept at obscuring the true identities of Beneficial Owners by using complex legal structures and shell companies to launder illicit funds. Cross border corruption and money laundering is happening on a much wider scale with fraudsters hiding behind complex corporate structures. 

Greater transparency and public access for company registries is a key focus for both the UK and European Union (EU). However, the latest Transparency International report highlights the lack of availability and accessibility of beneficial ownership data in some EU countries.   

The European Union (EU) was among the first to take serious steps aimed at improving transparency in company ownership. The 5th EU AMLD being the latest Directive containing further measures for enhancing the ability of competent authorities – both inside and outside the EU – to detect and investigate money laundering and financial crime.

This latest directive also recognises that transparency can be a powerful deterrent for preventing money laundering and financial crimes and asks that a wider number of countries open up their beneficial ownership registers to all.

Whilst the UK made its company registry publicly accessible in 2016 there is a continued attractiveness of UK companies to be subject to global criminals and kleptocrats. This has been attributed to the low cost and ease of company formation in the UK and the (currently) unverified nature of the data. 

In combating this, the UK’s Economic Crime Plan made reform of Companies House a priority and places a focus on including plans to introduce compulsory identity verification to help deter and detect fraud and money laundering; and giving Companies House greater powers to query, investigate and remove false information in the register.

With increased powers and a proactive approach from Companies House; collaboration between regulated business with companies house and technology providers, the complexities of identifying and continually monitoring Ultimate Beneficial Owners will move closer to fighting the fraudsters that hide their illicit gains behind these complex structures.

As many businesses continue to use manual reviews and disparate data sources, UBO monitoring consumes huge internal resource in both time and headcount as well as increasing the risk exposure.

NorthRow’s latest webinar will address the situation, The Challenge of Beneficial Ownership: How to unravel complex money laundering webs will examine how companies can use technology to drive efficiency, reduce operational pain and understand who you are doing business with. The webinar will also provide insight into how you can understand the status of the client counterparty (KYC) or the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) to enable your business to unravel the web of UBO monitoring.

It takes place on Tuesday 15th June at 14:00 BST with renowned MoneyLand author and journalist Oliver Bullough; award-winning compliance officer Oonagh van den Berg and senior AML policy officer at Transparency International, Laure Brillaud to discuss why the UK is still attractive to global crooks and Kleptocrats; what can be achieved and looking at the best approach for identifying and monitoring UBOs.

Key topics include:

  • How big is the problem
  • How Beneficial Ownerships are used for Money laundering
  • Proactive approach to transparency
  • Impact of regulation  
  • Best practice to verify and monitor UBOs 

You can register here.


  • Gina is a fintech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

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