What is Open Ownership?

Open Ownership’s goal is to increase beneficial ownership transparency across the world by making it easier to access high-quality and connected data about who owns, controls and benefits from companies.

The public beta of the Open Ownership Register was launched on April 3, 2017 -- the one year anniversary of the Panama Papers leak. The Register’s data is global and linked across jurisdictions, industries, and linkable to other datasets too.

Alongside the register, Open Ownership is developing a universal and open data standard for beneficial ownership, providing a solid conceptual and practical foundation for collecting and publishing beneficial ownership data. The latest data standard version is available here.

What’s a public beta?

Our platform is a work in progress. The Phase 1 of our project focused on the creation of a beta platform with enough functionality to be useful and to get constructive feedback from a wide variety of stakeholders. In Phase 2, we added new functionalities including visualisation, import history and bulk downloads in order to support typical beneficial ownership investigative work and processes. Let us know if you have any feedback on how the Register could be improved!

Who’s behind it?

Open Ownership is driven by a steering group composed of leading transparency NGOs, including Global Witness, Open Contracting Partnership, Transparency International, and the B Team, as well as OpenCorporates, the largest open database of companies in the world. The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is is supporting the project.

Where does the data on the beta version of the Register come from?

The data comes from a number of regulatory sources:

We’re also very excited that several companies have submitted their own beneficial ownership to the platform, helping test and provide feedback in the process.

Can I download the data?

Yes you can. The Register’s data is available in bulk downloads here. The files are snapshots from all the data sources the Register regularly ingests. Compared to data at source, the downloads benefit from the cleaning and formatting work the Register conducts as part of its own import processes, improving the data quality altogether. You can find further detail on what that entails here.

How often is the data updated?

You can see when an ownership record was last ingested by the Open Ownership Register by looking up the ‘Provenance’ box (an example here).

Provenance date is available on relationship, company and person records.

All of our data is currently updated every three weeks, with the exception of EITI data, which was provided as a one-off dump in 2017. The dataset itself was harvested between 2013 and 2015.

How do I add my company’s ownership information?

Click here and follow the process as directed. Any issues? Email us.

I found an issue with the Register. How do I report it?

Please fill in this form, including the url of the page where you spotted the issue:

  • If the issue is data related, please confirm what the error might be and on what basis you believe the data to be erroneous (for example, are you the data subject?)
  • If the issue relates to design, responsiveness or functionality, please give us the details of your computer/device, operating system and browser version.

How is using the Open Ownership Register different than searching the UK’s Persons of Significant Control Register?

First, when a company declares another company as beneficial owner (Companies House refers to those as RLEs or ‘Relevant Legal Entities’), on the PSC Register you cannot find out who the ultimate owners are without performing a separate search on the RLE itself. Whereas on the Open Ownership Register, you get the full ownership chain straight off in a single view, from the target company, through the RLE, all the way to ultimate beneficial owners.

Second, we include data from other sources, allowing us to surface cross-jurisdictional connections between people and companies.

On the submission side, the Open Ownership Register form has additional features currently missing in the PSC register:

  • Extra validation on date of birth, so it cannot be in the future.
  • A step towards verification of RLEs (companies declared as beneficial owners): we are using an international lookup (powered by OpenCorporates), so that the company number and the jurisdiction is set from the source register, rather that input as a free-text field, as it is on the PSC form.

What will Open Ownership change?

Open Ownership makes useful data available to people who need it, helping governments and civil society hold corrupt individuals accountable and creating a better environment for ethical business.

In transparent jurisdictions, the availability of the data will act as a deterrent to unethical behavior (it’s no coincidence that the 21 anonymous UK companies involved in the Global Laundromat scheme dissolved just months before the UK’s beneficial ownership register came online).

And the more we shine the light on jurisdictions that remain opaque, rather than accepting opacity as business as usual, the more we make it expensive and difficult for corrupt individuals to hide. That’s why it’s not just important where we do have data, but also where we don’t.

Finally, by providing the option for companies to submit their beneficial ownership voluntarily, Open Ownership allows companies to demonstrate a commitment to transparency and play a role in indicating to national governments the business imperative to action on this important issue.