Government of Canada tables new legislation to create a beneficial ownership registry
New bill proposes to amend law to further increase corporate transparency and accountability
March 22, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting Canadians against money laundering and terrorist financing, deterring tax evasion and tax avoidance, and making sure Canada is an attractive place to conduct business.
Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, introduced proposed legislation in Parliament as part of the government’s commitment to corporate transparency and the implementation of a free, publicly accessible and scalable beneficial ownership registry of corporations governed under the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA).
Last year, a first series of amendments to the CBCA were adopted in the Budget Implementation Act, 2022, No. 1. The proposed legislation now presents a second series of amendments to the CBCA and amendments to other statutes, namely the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, the Income Tax Act, and the Access to Information Act. These changes will require Corporations Canada to make public some information regarding the beneficial owners of federal corporations. The changes will also:
- introduce protections for whistleblowers;
- bolster the powers of Corporations Canada to make enquiries;
- introduce an exemption regime for certain individuals who may face harm from public disclosure, including minors;
- ensure compliance with the new regime through robust criminal and monetary penalties; and
- facilitate information-sharing and data validation.
The first series of amendments to the CBCA in last year’s budget will require most federally incorporated businesses to proactively submit information on their beneficial owners to Corporations Canada on an annual basis, or when a change in control occurs. The amendments will also allow Corporations Canada to disclose all or part of that information received from corporations to investigative bodies and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), supporting enhanced transparency and enforcement.
“Our government continues to take all necessary steps to prevent illicit activities, improve Canadians’ trust in corporate institutions and ensure a well-functioning marketplace. Now, more than ever, greater corporate transparency and accountability are needed, and this is why we are committed to implementing a beneficial ownership registry that will strengthen the safety and economic interests of Canadians.”
– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
The federal registry will be implemented in a way that makes it scalable to include the information held by provinces and territories that decide to participate.
The design of the registry has been informed by public consultations held in 2020 and complementary stakeholder outreach completed in 2022.
The proposed legislation balances transparency with privacy protections, notably by publicly disclosing only the information that is necessary and proportional to meet the objectives of the registry.
A strong compliance regime will be put in place, including administrative sanctions and criminal penalties of up to $200,000 and/or 6 months of jail time.
The Canada Revenue Agency will be authorized to share data with Corporations Canada to support validation and verification of the information filed by corporations.
Corporations Canada will leverage existing intake and reporting mechanisms to ease the administrative burden on businesses.
Senior Manager, Communications
Office of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
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