Of over 129,000 companies based in Luxembourg only a tiny percentage of 5.5% have said who their owners are, leaving the country's company ownership register basically empty, the LuxTimes reports.
Only 7,000 revealed that information, half way through the registration period for a new register meant to shed more light on opaque legal structures in Luxembourg.
Any legal entity registered with the Luxembourg trade and companies register must identify and verify who their so-called beneficial owners are, and list these individuals publicly on the register.
The Ministry of Justice is planning an information campaign to trigger a better response rate and avoid having to sanction companies missing the 31 August deadline, which can reach €1.25m.
The European Union anti-money laundering rules say that a public beneficial ownership register is essential in the efforts to combat the misuse of shell companies to hide money.
Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man have announced they will voluntarily adopt public registers of the true owners of offshore companies incorporated in their jurisdictions after months of pressure from the UK, where politicians say it will help in tackling tax. In March, more than 40 MPs supported an amendment which would have forced the Channel Islands to be more transparent when it comes to owns assets, but that debate was withdrawn.
In the UK, the names of anyone who owns more than 25% of a registered company are publicly available.