New Ghana government commits to implementing beneficial ownership regime

Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia on Thursday reiterated government’s commitment to provide the needed resources towards fighting corruption and the full implementation of the beneficial ownership regime.

He said government would ensure transparency in the procurement process, awarding of contracts, as well as transparency in the commodity market and prevent any facilitation of corruption in the country as promised by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during the electioneering period.

Dr Bawumia said this at the opening of a two-day workshop on Supporting New Beneficial Ownership Transparency Champions in Accra, organised by the Transparency International in collaboration with its local representative, the Ghana Integrity Initiative.

The meeting brought together key stakeholders from Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana with representatives from civil society organisations, government officials, investigative journalists and law enforcement agencies to increase their understanding and knowledge on beneficial ownership in order to collaborate and plan how to collect, share and use beneficial ownership information to tackle corruption in their various countries. 

Beneficial ownership is a term used to describe the natural person who directly and ultimately owns, controls or benefits from a company or trust fund and the income it generates.

The term is often used to contrast with the nominee company owners, who might be registered as legal owners of the asset without any benefits.

Nominees obscure the real company structure and owners. Professional nominees are paid a fee for their services but otherwise have no interest in the transactions. Nominees can also be family members or friends.

The event was organised as a follow-up of the 2016 Anti-corruption Summit held in London, United Kingdom, in May 2016 to support the realisation of the commitments made by the three countries in establishing public beneficial ownership registers.

The Vice President noted that the Anti-corruption Summit in London was also aimed at moving forward the anti-corruption agenda as contained in the International Anti-corruption Action Plan and Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda, as well as the United Nations Convention against Corruption.

He added that government was committed to meeting a number of international obligations regarding the implementation of the beneficial ownership and expressed optimism that government’s partnership with the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GEITI) and the EITI standards and Financial Action Taskforce would help in meeting the various beneficial ownership requirements deadlines.

He said the country had made tremendous progress after last year’s summit in London compared to its compatriots, saying, ‘‘We have since organised a consultative workshop on beneficial ownership for state and non-state actors while the Companies Act, (Act 920) had also been amended to make provision for beneficial ownership regime a reality.

According to him, Ghana’s EITI in collaboration with other civil society organisations, relevant government agencies and other partners developed beneficial ownership roadmap which had been submitted to the international EITI Secretariat in December 2016 as part of deadline for all EITI implementing countries including Ghana.

He said the government recognised the huge financial implication to this roadmap and would make the needed resources available so that the country would put in place efficient beneficial ownership regime, he stated.

In this regard, he said, detailed information of the identities of politically-exposed persons and their families would be made accessible to the public, but would not compromise their security. 

He commended the Transparency International and its local representative, the Ghana integrity Initiative, for organising the regional meeting to facilitate the process.

He urged the participants to leverage on the choices and experiences of other countries so that they would be fully equipped to contribute to the full implementation of the beneficial ownership regime in their various countries.

Mrs Linda Ofori Kwafo, the Executive Director of the Ghana Integrity Initiative, said countries in Africa were not doing well in the management of corruption and alluded to the recent report by the Transparency International on Corruption Perception Index, adding that most African countries performance on reducing corruption had dropped.

She entreated government to implement the anti-corruption polices it promised during the electioneering, including setting up the Office of a Special Prosecutor, implementing the recommendations of the Auditor-General’s report and making a corruption a felony instead of a misdemeanour, as well as, avoiding sole-sourcing of government’s contracts and make the procurement process transparent.

He urged government to sanction persons engaged in corruption so that the practice would become unattractive and a high risk area for people to ventureinto.

Source: GNA

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