What companies should be reporting

The CAN believes that the following information should be available on public record for all companies:

  1. Where they are incorporated;
  2. What their constitution says;
  3. Who owns them;
  4. Who manages them;
  5. What they actually do;
  6. Where they actually do that (by location, without exception);
  7. Which other companies they own, and what they do and where information may be found on them;
  8. Their full accounts, including country-by-country reports if they operate in more than one country;
  9. Details of any preferred creditors who will be paid before ordinary creditors in the event of the company going bankrupt;
  10. Details of all legal actions filed against the company, and how they were resolved;
  11. Details of all penalties imposed on the company for failing to comply with regulations, barring only minor motoring offences.

We think that the full accounts of a company include:

  • Current disclosure on:
    • Who owns the company;
    • Who manages the company;
    • How much those who manage the company are paid and details of other rewards that they receive from the company e.g. dividends;
    • What the company actually does;
    • Where it actually does that activity (by specific address, without exception, for all countries in which the company has operated in the period);
    • Which other companies the reporting company owns, and what those other companies do and where information may be found on them;
  • A review of the past activities of the company;
  • A forward looking statement on the planned activities of the company;
  • A full set of accounts for the company inclduing:
    • A profit and loss account;
    • Statement of any other gains and losses arising;
    • A balance sheet;
    • A cash flow statement;
    • Notes to the accounts sufficient to explain these accounts;
  • Specific disclosure relating to:
    • Employees;
    • Trading relationships e.g. average settlement periods with creditors;
    • Taxation;
    • Other regulatory and legal compliance;
    • Relationships with civil society.

We thank that there is good reason for all this data to be be filed on a free-to-access database without any restriction on who may use the data. This is because any company might, because of the privilege of limited liability that its members enjoy, potentially prejudice the well-being of others in society because of the advantage those shareholders have of not having to pay the debts of their company in the event of its insolvency.

Of course, we accept that most companies will not do this. But what we also recognise is that the companies that might do so will not be capable of identification unless information on all companies is, without exception, available on public record. The above noted data ensures that anyone can appraise the potential risk that they face when engaging with any company, anywhere. And, given the reach of modern commerce this requirement has, as a result, to apply to all jurisdictions: there are no states whose companies are beyond creating the moral hazard that limited liability always imposes on society. This is why we believe that public registers of this data are essential.