Federal government moves to uncover beneficial owners

Federal government moves to uncover beneficial owners

- President Muhammadu Buhari's fight against corruption in the Nigerian society received a boost today, Wednesday, September 6

- This is as key agencies of the government held a meeting and resolved to establish a public beneficial ownership register

- As part of the anti-corruption commitments under the Open Government Partnership (OGP), the Nigerian government had committed to ending secret company ownership in May 2016

- Speaking after the meeting, the national coordinator of OGP, Mrs Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu said such efforts can complement other anti-corruption efforts of the current administration

Nigeria's federal government has kick-started plans to establish a public beneficial ownership register.

In a meeting held on Wednesday, September 6 in Abuja, key agencies of the government fine-tuned strategies for the implementation of the policy.

The meeting which was held under the auspices of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) had in attendance the representatives of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE), the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Ministry of Justice, Civil Society Organisations amongst others.

Federal Governmet moves to uncover beneficial owners

L-R: Mrs Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu of OGP, Dr Ogbonnaya Orji of NIETI and others at the meeting on Wednesday, September 6. Photo credit: Mayowa Okekale

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The Nigerian government had committed to ending secret company ownership as part of the anti-corruption commitments under the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in May 2016, by opening a publicly accessible beneficial ownership register.

The government's plan is expected to bring an end to situations where individuals and entities especially Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) mask their identity while retaining controlling powers over companies, corporations and assets.

Speaking at the end of the meeting, the national coordinator of OGP and special adviser to the president on justice reforms, Mrs Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu outlined how such efforts can complement other anti-corruption efforts of the current administration.

According to her: “Beneficial ownership transparency is the sixth commitment in the National Action Plan of the Open Government Partnership. It critical to ongoing efforts to trace, recover and repatriate stolen assets and disrupt illicit financial flows.

“By the time the beneficial ownership register is made public, there will be no hiding place for those who wish to conceal dirty money.”

The representative of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), A. G Abubakar confirmed that government has commenced the initial procedures for the review of the Company and Allied Matters Act 1990 as amended to ensure that beneficial ownership information become part of the data required to be disclosed by every company.

Earlier in the year, NIETI unfolded a beneficial ownership transparency road-map in the extractive industry.

According to the executive secretary of NEITI, Mr Waziri Adio who was represented at the meeting by Dr. Ogbonaya Orji, director of communications: “The National Stakeholders Working Group (NSWG) of NEITI is determined to use activities in the road-map to push the boundaries of implementation of transparency and accountability in the extractive industries in Nigeria.

“This is in line with the ongoing reforms in the extractive industry. We are working with all relevant stakeholders in the industry including civil society.”

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, August 24, signed instruments of ratification for a number of bilateral agreements strengthening the government’s anti-corruption fight.

The president signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLA) on commercial and criminal matters between Nigeria and United Arab Emirates which includes the speedy recovery and repatriation of stolen assets which may be stashed away by unscrupulous elements in that country.

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It is expected that the implementation of beneficial ownership transparency will lead to a reasonable reduction of reputation risks that Nigeria is currently facing internationally, in terms of attracting the much needed capital that will help revamp the economy.

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Source: Legit

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