- Developing countries, particularly in Africa, reportedly lose US$1 trillion annually, through unclear ownership
- Ghana estimated to have lost in excess of US$4.9 billion between 1970 and 2008.
The African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), has asked government to urgently develop and adopt the beneficial ownership (BO) implementation framework in the oil and gas industry.
The framework, ACEP noted, should outline the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, relevant for the implementation of the agenda.
The Centre maintains that, public registers on beneficial ownership is vital, as improved access to data on it, enables individuals, civil society and government to trace loopholes through which companies are likely to engage in criminal acts.
Addressing participants at a ‘Stakeholders’ Engagement Workshop on Petroleum Contracting and Revenues Management in Ghana’, a Policy Analyst at ACEP, Linda Ahunu, said data on BO could help tackle and expose potential tax evaders in the industry while ensuring that commercial contracts are awarded to companies best suited for the job.
Developing countries, particularly in Africa, reportedly lose an estimated US$1 trillion each year, due to corrupt deals, mainly involving companies with unclear ownership.
Between 1970 and 2008, Ghana lost in excess of US$4.9 billion as a result of tax evaded by corporate groups, individuals, multinationals and other organizations operating in the country.
However, Linda explained that the concept of BO, remains quite an enigma as there has been little public education on the subject.
“The leak of the ‘Panama Papers’ in 2016, revealed how complex ownership structures can allow criminal individuals to hide their business ownership and dealings.
Twelve national leaders were among the 143 politicians who were implicated. This raises serious concerns for any kind of business that remains a potential for tax evasion” she said.
By the year 2020, the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), will require all EITI complaint countries, including Ghana, to ensure that companies that apply for or hold a participating interest in an oil, gas or mining license or contract in those countries, disclose their beneficial owners.
Ghana’s effort in adopting BO has seen some amount of commitment towards its implementation, as the Ghana Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI), in collaboration with civil society groups and the Registrar General’s Department, has developed a BO implementation Roadmap in 2016.
The country’s key efforts include the amendment of the Companies Act, 1963 (Act 179) and the establishment of a central beneficial ownership register.