WHAT IS TOWARDS A LEVEL
PLAYING FIELD ABOUT?
a Level Playing Field: Regulating Corporate Vehicles
in Cross-Border Transactions seeks to
plug the gaps in the Organisation
for Economic Cooperation and Development's
poorly researched but nonetheless influential work
on corporate vehicles
was jointly commissioned by the ITIO
and the Society
of Trust and Estate Practitioners and
undertaken by international law firm Stikeman
a Level Playing Field has proved very
popular and a second edition was
published in October 2003. There is clearly a pent-up
demand for facts with which to challenge what can
often seem old-fashioned, big-country protectionism.
inspiration was an OECD study of November 2001, Behind
the Corporate Veil: Using Corporate Entities for Illicit
Purposes. This urges governments and regulatory
authorities to ensure they could obtain information
on the beneficial ownership and control of corporate
vehicles in order to combat their misuse for illicit
vehicles” are taken to include companies,
trusts, partnerships and foundations.
reduce potential for tax evasion, money laundering,
bribery and corruption, creditor avoidance or
securities and market frauds, the OECD proposes
increased disclosure and regulation to track and
exchange data concerning beneficial ownership
and financial information for corporate vehicles.
OECD’s proposals have serious implications for
personal financial privacy and for the economies of
many non-OECD countries.
the OECD’s data is weak and the organisation
is coy about turning the spotlight on its own members.
contrast, Towards a Level Playing Field
provides a comprehensive analysis of the regulation
of corporations, trusts and limited partnerships in
fifteen OECD and non-OECD countries alike.
is the first time such directly comparable and transparent
information has been made available.
the basis of empirical data collected in a series
of tables, Stikeman Elliott assessed the validity
of the assumptions, scope and conclusions of the
OECD report and considered the regulation and
restrictions proposed on the flexibility of the
submitting the data for review by law firms within
all the jurisdictions surveyed, they ensured close
factual accuracy and attention to detail. The
results were striking and show the value of taking
a global approach.
a Level Playing Field reveals that leading OECD
member states now actually lag behind regulatory developments
in the principal non-OECD financial centres in important
example, corporate service providers are generally
not regulated in OECD countries, whereas they
are in the leading non-OECD ones.
Equally, OECD jurisdictions are mostly unable
to regulate or control the quality or fitness
to practice of their trustees and lack the power
to impose standards of competence and probity.
The non-OECD countries examined, however, have
extensive trustee legislation. Indeed, the OECD
has acknowledged that these regimes could serve
as useful models for their own members.
results may come as a surprise to those who think
big countries have nothing to learn from small ones.
taking a global and inclusive view, Towards
a Level Playing Field clearly demonstrates
that the only way to develop new standards for corporate
vehicles is to proceed on the basis of non-discrimination
and a level
criminals may simply turn to those centres in the
OECD itself where regulation is weaker.
Towards a Level Playing Field
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