CityPress - - News -

On the fifth floor of Jafza 15, ev­ery­thing is white, car­peted and anony­mous. Oc­ca­sion­ally, a closed of­fice door an­nounces a com­pany reg­is­tered in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands – a no­to­ri­ous tax and se­crecy haven in the Caribbean.

The ad­dress 15117 ap­pears to be a PO box, and a sign on the door of of­fice 15514 shows it be­longs to Gioven­zana In­ter­na­tional. The woman who opens the door says that she has never heard of Fidelity En­ter­prises.

On Fri­day, the South African govern­ment an­nounced that it had com­mit­ted it­self to end­ing th­ese kinds of opaque cor­po­rate struc­tures in the coun­try, cit­ing risks that they could be used to hide il­licit fi­nance, money laun­der­ing and cor­rup­tion.

As part of its third Na­tional Ac­tion Plan, the govern­ment has com­mit­ted to set­ting up a public reg­is­ter, dis­clos­ing the real own­ers be­hind all com­pa­nies reg­is­tered in South Africa.

“This is an en­cour­ag­ing an­nounce­ment, es­pe­cially be­cause of the com­mit­ment to a public reg­is­ter, rather than a reg­is­ter that is only ac­ces­si­ble to the au­thor­i­ties,” said Denise Dube Mubaiwa of Eco­nomic Jus­tice Net­work.

“Public reg­is­ters give in­ves­ti­ga­tors, jour­nal­ists, civil so­ci­ety and the gen­eral public the tools nec­es­sary to peel back the lay­ers of se­crecy that anony­mous com­pa­nies cre­ate.”

Alvin Mo­sioma of Tax Jus­tice Net­work-Africa added: “South Africa, [in] lead­ing the way, will pro­vide im­por­tant cover for other African gov­ern­ments to take the same step.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.