Who are our owners? Exploring the cross-border ownership links of European businesses to assess the risk of illicit financial flows

This paper investigates the patterns of business ownership in Europe, using a unique dataset on the nationality of 28.7 million shareholders of companies registered in 41 European countries. By means of an exploratory multivariate analysis, it tests whether ownership links between different countries are driven exclusively by social and macroeconomic variables—such as trade or geographic or cultural proximity—or instead are also related to measures of financial secrecy, corruption and lack of compliance to anti-money laundering regulations.