Complying with BOT: 44,000 companies submit names of true owners

About 44,000 companies in the country have complied with the Beneficial OwnershipTransparency (BOT) initiative and submitted the names of the true owners of such companies to the Registrar of Companies under the Registrar General’s Department.

The Executive Director of Centre for Extractive Development Africa (CEDA), Samuel Bekoe, who disclosed this in an interview with the Ghanaian Times, during a technical workshop at Peduase at the weekend to discuss the 2019 Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) reports for mining and oil and gas said the move was to ascertain the real owners and   people who make key decisions in a company.

That, he said, was to curb corruption, and prevent people who hide behind shell companies to evade tax and commit financial crimes especially in the extractive industry.

The programme organised by the GHEITI Secretariat under the Ministry of Finance was under the auspices of German development organisation, GIZ and Swiss development organisations, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.

It was to apprise members of the two media organisations, including some officials of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Ghana Chamber of Mines, Minerals Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Tullow Ghana, Petroleum Commission, Ghana Revenue Authority, and Centre for Extractive Development Africa, on the 2019 GHEITI Reports for Mining and Oil and Gas.

Mr Bekoe explained that the BOT programme, among others, was under the Open Extractives initiative, to help determine who ultimately owns, controls and or benefit from companies.

He said the objectives of the Opening Extractives was to enable the government and industry to disclose high quality, open and beneficial data, build the capacity of government and local stakeholders to use and analyse data to improve natural resource governance.

Consequently, he said Ghana’s Companies 1963 (Act 179) was amended in July2016 to include provisions on beneficial ownership and was passed into law in 2019.

“We now have a law on Beneficial Ownership and a Register for all companies to the Registrar General and Registrar of companies of their beneficial owners,” MrBekoe said.

He said the Registrar General was expecting morecompanies by the end of the year to submit the names of their real owners and people who make decisions in the companies.

Mr Bekoe said companies which refused to submit the names of their beneficial owners could not file for their annual returns or register a new company.

He suggested that there should be more enforcement and sanctions to get more companies to comply with the law.

Ghana, MrBekoe said, was among 112 countries which had committed to the BOT.

Among other benefits, Mr Bekoe said the BOT would help the revenue authorities to know companies which were related and sometimes owned by the same person but did business “as if they don’t know each other.”

Mr Bekoe said the one major challenge facing the BOT was the verification and authentication of data provided by companies, but said other countries had overcome that hurdle and Ghana would learn from them.

BY KINGSLEY ASARE

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