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Registered Companies Now Required To Declare ‘Beneficial Owners’

Registered Companies in Ghana will henceforth be required to declare their ‘beneficial owners’ as part of a requirement of the Company’s Act, 2019, (Act 992) to promote transparency and accountability in the running of businesses in Ghana.

Beneficial owners in this sense refers to the individuals (but not limited to management members) who stand to benefit from the Company’s fortunes and risks.

The decision follows the deployment of a new Central Beneficial Ownership Register for all companies by the Registrar-General’s Department.

According to the World Bank, roughly 70% of the biggest corruption cases between 1980 and 2010 involved anonymous companies. When it comes to the oil, gas and mining sectors, it has been estimated that up to US$1trillion is siphoned out of developing countries in lost tax revenues through shell companies that hide their beneficial owners.

The move is therefore expected to assist authorities to effectively counteract money laundering and tax evasion, while also stemming illicit financial flows. In line with Ghana’s commitment to use transparency as a tool for fighting corruption, some analysts have agreed that the new beneficial ownership regime will help to identify the true owners of all companies.

According to the Registrar-General, four key issues will be addressed by the new beneficial ownership commitments:

Strengthening the disclosure requirements – Reinforcing underlying legal and regulatory requirements for disclosure of different types of ownership across various legal vehicles is fundamental to more effective, transparent processes.

Improving the interoperability of information – Applying common standards such as the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard and linking ownership information with other policy areas can help to track money and assets across sectors and jurisdictions.

Verifying registered information – Open beneficial ownership data, coupled with strong verification systems, ensures data is accurate and useable.

Engaging citizens in monitoring and accountability – Informal and formal channels for accountability enable citizens to actively use ownership data to uncover networks of corruption.

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