The Swiss Government said on 17 January it would be launching a public consultation on converting anonymous bearer shares in private companies into registered shares which have owners’ names attached.
The proposal would only apply to non-publicly listed companies, who would face financial penalties for non-compliance.
Opening the books
The registered share proposal, according to Reuters, has been recommended by an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) panel and aims to tackle tax avoidance through shell companies that hold bearer shares.
These shares allow a person to remain anonymous as they do not require any name or ownership information to be attached to them, including when they are transferred.
The Swiss Government says bearer shares currently represent only 12% of the share capital of companies, compared to 27% in 2014.
In July 2017, the OECD secretary-general, in a report to G20 leaders, said that a continued push towards global tax transparency had resulted in additional tax revenue of €85bn ($104bn, £75bn) being collected in the last eight years.
Britain banned companies from issuing bearer shares and convert existing ones into securities with documented ownership in 2015.