Quebec enacts new corporate transparency framework

A new corporate transparency law recently enacted by the Quebec government will compel all private corporations and partnerships, regardless of where it is registered or incorporated, who conduct business in the province to disclose the identity and some information of the beneficial owners of their shares in a publicly accessible database, a requirement that goes further than similar legislation passed by the federal government and other provinces.

Bill 78, An Act mainly to improve the transparency of enterprises, is part of a growing wave of international and national efforts aimed at thwarting tax fraud, money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities. But the bill, while lauded by business and tax lawyers, has also prompted questions over its opaqueness, its application, compliance costs, and privacy issues.

“All of these registers point to certain ills that have been raised by international bodies going back 10, 20 years,” noted Daniel Frajman, a Montreal corporate, commercial and tax lawyer with Spiegel Sohmer LLP. “The feeling is that by having more information available with respect to who is behind corporations then those ills can be be fought better with these kinds of registers. One would think it’s helpful and laudable but I guess time will tell.”

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This story was originally published in The Lawyer’s Daily.

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