Azerbaijan President Signs Law on Corporate Disclosure

20 July 2012

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev July 6 signed into amendments to the law limiting disclosures by corporate entities,  adopted by Parliament on June 12..

Strongly criticized by pro-transparency activists, the changes will curtail public access to information about the ownership of commercial entities, the amount of their charter capital, ownership structure, and other similar data. (See previous report.)

The amendments to a 2005 law on commercial information that will bar government officials from distributing information about companies if doing so “contradicts the national interests of Azerbaijan in political, economic, and monetary policy, the defense of public order, the health and moral values of the people, or harms the commercial or other interests of individuals.” The reforms also would make release contingent on permission of all individuals named in the records.

In a June 6 statement, civil society opponents of the amendments said in part: “Preventing public access to information about commercial legal entities cannot be justified with the public-interest argument. This level of secrecy will cause mistrust and lack of confidence among participants in what purports to be a free market economy, and will probably increase organised crime.”

The president signed the decree to implement the amendments in three months.

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