Cosmin Marginean

February 4, 2023

An RDF vocabulary for Beneficial Ownership Data

Beneficial ownership secrecy is one of the most common tricks for concealing proceeds of crime and it’s often used to cover the tracks of corruption, money laundering, and human trafficking - to name but a few.

Open Ownership
is a non-profit committed to making a change in this space. They help countries implement beneficial ownership transparency, and they provide the frameworks and tools to support this transition. One of the crucial elements of these efforts is the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard (BODS), which defines the principles and guidelines for sharing and processing beneficial ownership data.

We’ve been using corporate data for a variety of use cases in my work, and BODS seemed like a good candidate for some of the problems we’re solving. The schema has an inherent graph structure, and since I’ve had some prior experience with RDF, we wanted to model a vocabulary to complement the BODS standard.

Developed with the Semantic Web in mind, RDF is an open and mature data-linking blueprint. This makes it an excellent match for a typical graph model like BODS.

With these in mind, we’ve put together a proposal that we’ve discussed with the Open Ownership community and which is still open to contributions.

The outcome of that is an open-source project that implements some of these concepts for the JVM, and provides tooling for converting and processing the Open Ownership register as RDF data:


I want to thank Amy Guy and the Open Ownership team for reviewing this proposal and for their guidance in bringing these concepts to life.

Watch this space for followups on ingesting and querying Open Ownership data using RDF/SPARQL, and leveraging these techniques for a series of Risk & Compliance use cases.