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What kind of details are entered in the companies register?

This is an extremely important question since, in the course of a number of business transactions, the owners and directors of a company do not wish to reveal their identity. In countries with a continental legal system there is little scope for this because, for instance, in Hungary, Austria and Germany the details of a company are completely public and anybody may gain access to them at the office of company registration, referring to any alleged or real interests. From this respect, we can divide offshore companies into three categories:

  • Full anonymity . The details of neither the directors, nor the owners are available in the public company register since these details need not even be reported to the authorities in these countries. Countries of this kind are the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Belize, etc. The role of full anonymity in economic life is rather important as can be measured on the basis of the number of companies registered in these locations (for instance, in 1998, some 43 000 new companies were registered in the British Virgin Islands alone).

  • Partial publicity . For instance, in the case of Panama, the owners of a company are not entered in the companies register, whereas all the details of the directors are public.

  • Wide publicity . A number of details concerning the company are accessible in the companies register. For instance, in the case of Cyprus, the details of the owners and directors are available (name, nationality, passport number, date of birth, residence, etc.).
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