G20 leaders have an opportunity to make a real impact in the fight against untraceable ‘shell’ companies when they meet in Brisbane later this year, a Griffith University researcher has claimed.

Professor Jason Sharman, from Griffith’s Centre for Governance and Public Policy, said there has never been a better time to crack down on the abuse of corporate structures as a shield for individuals to engage in corrupt deals, launder money, evade tax and hide their illegal profits.

The impacts of inadequate rules and enforcement on transparency of company ownership are playing out worldwide — from the billions of dollars stolen and transferred by corrupt leaders in Ukraine, to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption’s current investigations into secret stakes and hidden ownership in companies such as Australian Water Holdings.

“The fact these issues are just as relevant for Australia, as all other countries, makes Australia’s presidency of the G20 this year all the better a time to lead real action.”

Professor Sharman is among the world’s leading authorities on corruption and money laundering attending a Corruption, Integrity Systems and the G20 Conference, being held by Griffith University and Transparency International in Brisbane on June 18.

Also speaking will be two of the world’s foremost anti-corruption leaders:

They will join Australian Government representatives, experts and anti-corruption activists from around the world.

Details on the speakers and registration for anyone interested in attending the public conference can be found at: http://www.griffith.edu.au/conference/corruption-integrity-systems-g20.

Professor Sharman and conference convenor Professor A J Brown, program leader in public integrity and anti-corruption at the Centre for Governance and Public Policy, both also presented on anti-corruption priorities at the meeting of all G20 countries in Sydney in February.

Among other vital priorities for the G20’s anti-corruption plan are more action to combat foreign bribery, better corporate whistleblower protection, recovery of stolen assets, and support for best-practice integrity systems in business and government to help shore up economic stability and growth.

Details of Professor Sharman’s research exposing dodgy shell company practices can be found at: www.globalshellgames.com.

“Effective disclosure of company ownership, licensing of all corporate service providers, and regulatory checks on whether those providers are requiring and collecting basic ID information from people setting up companies, are simple steps but they require real political commitment,” Professor Sharman said.

“Hopefully we see real action on these and other issues in Brisbane this year.”