Real Companies are owned by Real People - Part 1

November 24, 2015

As a Certified B Corporation and a Virginia Benefit Corporation, we are committed to transparency and accountability in business. To that end, we publish and maintain a statement of beneficial ownership on our company's Governance page, and we encourage all businesses to do the same.

Who are beneficial owners?

Beneficial owners are the real owners of a company, the actual people -- not the holding entities, anonymous shell companies, or phantom firms -- who own or control a company's stock.

Why beneficial ownership transparency matters

Beneficial ownership transparency is one of the most effective ways to curb illegal or unethical business practices and protect human rights.  As The Fact Coalition points out, in many U.S. states, you can set up a corporation with less documentation than it takes to get a driver's license or register to vote. This paves the way for bad actors of every description: fraudsters, money launderers, tax evaders, organized crime rings, and human rights abusers. 

Anonymous companies are not just a scourge in America.  Criminals and others throughout the world use anonymous companies to defraud the public and private sector, hide illegal activities, and exploit human and natural resources. This leaves responsible business owners without a level playing field, puts workers and communities at risk, and forces taxpayers to eventually pick up the tab. 

Good business is open and transparent for a reason. In her riveting TED talk, 2014 TED Prize winner Charmian Gooch of Global Witness says it best:

"My wish is for us to know who owns and controls companies, so that they can no longer be used anonymously against the public good. Let's ignite world opinion, change the law, and together launch a new era of openness in business."

Start by having your own company make public its beneficial ownership. Then ask your vendors and supply chain partners to do the same. Join the movement for global change and help us put an end to anonymous companies.

Crystal Mario, CEO, Founder, Owner (and real person)

 



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