Not everyone was happy when the House of Commons voted last week to require companies registered in UK overseas territories to publicly disclose their beneficial owners. Critics argued that some owners have legitimate reasons for guarding their privacy, such as protecting themselves from corrupt officials or criminals. Representatives of territories such as the British Virgin Islands said that the policy would undercut their status as offshore financial centres. Others argued that the move would only drive money launderers into even shadier corners of the global financial system. None of these arguments withstand serious scrutiny. The information that will become public is already available to governments, so they are none the wiser. It is conceivable that criminals would use company disclosures to target victims, but is finding rich people really so hard? In any case, the right of privacy for the wealthy must be weighed against the rights of the victims of criminals who move their ...

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