The OECD ban on ‘bearer shares’ proves effective for tax transparency


A ten-year anniversary meeting of the Global Forum, celebrating the global impact of tax transparency, was held in Paris recently. 

It was hosted by the OECD – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – which has been promoting tax transparency over the last decade. 

Two features of the OECD tax transparency agenda are: 

  • Exchange of Information on Request (EOIR) – which has led to the recovery of nearly €7.5 billion of additional tax revenue and;
  • Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) – on the financial accounts of non-residents. Commencing in 2017 with 100 countries sharing information on 11 million offshore accounts, it has increased to 47 million such accounts being exchanged in 2018. The total value of these financial accounts exchanged in 2018 came to €4.9 trillion. This level of cooperation helps greatly enhance tax transparency.

There is more information about the exchange of information in the Global Forum Anniversary Report.

Ireland is an active member of the OECD and a good example of our participation is the ban on the use of bearer shares introduced in the Companies Act 2014. This ban has also been implemented in about 90% of the 131 member states in the OECD which either completely disallow the use of bearer shares or ensure that the owners can be identified.

A bearer share is an equity security, deliberately missing the owner’s name, which is owned by whoever holds the physical stock certificate. They were a popular vehicle for tax evasion as the issuing entity does not have to register the owner of the stock or track subsequent transfers of ownership.  Their existence was previously a longstanding impediment to tax compliance efforts across the world.

Since 2017, member states must also ensure that public beneficial ownership registers of legal entities are maintained, so these cannot be used to conceal ownership and evade tax. Ireland’s register is fully active since 22 November 2019 and is at the RBO.

See our new fully updated AML Policies & Procedures Manual which includes a section that fully deals with these requirements and is now available here

It is updated for the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Acts, 2010 to 2018 which came into force on 26 November 2018. It retails at €150+VAT.

See also our on-demand webinars on AML, accessible at any time.

Other webinar topics include Investment Property Accounting, FRS 105, Common Errors in FRS 102 Accounting and the latest on FRS 105 and company law, visit our online webinar training website. Once viewing is completed, customers will receive a CPD Certificate confirming their learning.