A non-profit organisation campaigning to end what it calls “corporate secrecy” sent a letter to the United States Congress last week asking members to pass a law that would require companies to declare their beneficial owners at the time of incorporation.

The United Kingdom-based Global Witness, which advocates for transparency to combat corruption and human rights abuses, is asking American legislators to support the “Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act.”

Versions of the bill introduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives last year would ask the US Secretary of the Treasury to create regulations that would, no later than 2014, require incorporators to collect the addresses and passport or driver’s licence numbers of a corporation’s beneficial owners. The incorporators would then have to surrender the information upon a civil or criminal subpoena from a Congressional committee, state or federal agency.

The transparency measures are needed because nearly two million corporations and limited liability companies are formed in the US each year, according to the House version of the bill.

See the May 24, 2012 edition for full coverage.