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How Beneficial Ownership Boosts Economies (But Burdens Small Businesses)

Nicole on 28 May 2024
How Beneficial Ownership Boosts Economies (But Burdens Small Businesses)

South Africa recently implemented Beneficial Ownership requirements, making businesses disclose who owns and controls them. While it's a new approach here, many countries have already seen the benefits of Beneficial Ownership - let's look at some real-world success stories:

United Kingdom

Before this requirement, fake companies ("shell companies") in the UK hid criminals who laundered money. Beneficial Ownership helped the government identify the REAL people behind these companies, making it much harder for criminals to operate. This was very effective, and money laundering cases dropped by 37%.

United States of America

For decades, billions of dollars stolen from developing countries were hidden through complex ownership structures. However, through beneficial ownership requirements, US authorities were able to find the actual owners and recover over $14 billion in stolen money.


In the past, investors struggled to trust German businesses because ownership wasn't clear. When Beneficial Ownership requirements were introduced, companies were forced to reveal their owners, making Germany more attractive to investors and improving foreign investment by 15%.


Nigeria had a significant problem with terrorist groups hiding their money using seemingly ordinary businesses. The Beneficial Ownership requirement helped Nigeria uncover the true owners and work towards stopping terrorist financing. As a result, cases flagged as possible terror funding went up by 70%.


Many businesses in India find sneaky ways to avoid paying taxes, but Beneficial Ownership helped India identify the real owners of businesses, leading to a 20% increase in tax revenue. This meant more money for schools, roads, and hospitals.

The Two Sides of Beneficial Ownership

While this requirement is great news for South Africa's efforts to fight crime and corruption, it's a double-edged sword for small businesses.

The Benefits

  • Less crime: It makes it harder for criminals to hide behind fake companies.
  • More investment: Investors trust a transparent business environment.
  • Recovered money: Stolen funds are returned to developing countries.
  • Stronger security: Terrorist financing networks are disrupted.
  • Fairer taxes: Everyone pays their share, leading to more money for public services.

The Burden

While Beneficial Ownership offers considerable advantages, it creates a major headache for small businesses:

  • Time-consuming
  • Confusing
  • Overwhelming

Do you own a company? Learn more about how you can get compliant with Beneficial Ownership.