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Paul J. Davies

Clear Up Yacht Ownership and Other Financial Secrets

Terror attacks led to modern anti-money laundering rules, Russia’s war should create tougher standards too.

Boats behind bars

Boats behind bars

Photographer: Laura Lezza/Getty Images Europe

When I was trying to trace the spider’s web of companies and people around Wirecard AG, both before and after the German payments firm collapsed in a multi-billion euro fraud in 2020, I spent many hours and plenty of money trawling the corporate registries of different countries.

This left me more familiar than most with the varying standards on ownership records and other data in a host of countries. Singapore’s register, for example, is extensive, but costly to use. India’s is cheap and often very good. Those in Luxembourg and Germany are relatively thin but helpful up to a point. The U.K.’s is freely accessible and very useful, but also regularly missing required information.