China, Russia outrank U.S. when it comes to corporate transparency

Margot Williams

For journalists and researchers pursuing cross-border and global investigations, access to information on companies is a basic need, but one that is not always easy to fulfill.

Unsurprisingly, different jurisdictions have substantially different rules, methods, and levels of public availability of corporate data.

But what may be surprising is that countries like China and Russia provide better access to corporate information than the United States and Canada, according to a new report.

The Open Data Compass report (and website) was released earlier this month by the UK-based Arachnys Information Services. The report analyzed and ranked 215 countries and territories for availability of corporate registrations and ownership, accessibility of litigation information and size of the news media industry. The three metrics derived from the Arachnys methodology are combined for an overall score.

Open and closed books

At #215, the Arachnys Open Data Compass reveals that Turks and Caicos “live up to their reputation as an opaque and high-profile tax haven, with a total lack of corporate and litigation information.”

And who is #1? New Zealand. “Full court records are available for almost every court and detailed corporate records are searchable and thorough,” the Arachnys Open Data Compass states. Rounding out the top 10 are the UK, Australia, France, Germany, Croatia, Netherlands, Finland, Estonia and Hong Kong.

The United States comes in at number 26 on the list, while Canada is 70th, a long way behind Albania (ranked 11), China (20), Venezuela (21), and Russia (23).

Read more on the report on icij.org.

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Copyright 2014 The Center for Public Integrity. This story was published by The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington, D.C.