As published on ghanaweb.com, Wednesday 9 September, 2020.
The Register-General will be deploying a new Central Beneficial Ownership Register for all companies operating in the country.
According to Jemima Oware, this will end the lack of information about the ownership of businesses incorporated in the country which she described as creating a “dangerous and widening gap” in the country’s fight against corruption, money laundering, terrorism financing and other forms of financial crimes.
In a statement to GhanaWeb, Oware said the deployment, “will start with the extractive industry and other high-risk sectors like banks and other financial institutions”.
She said the new Company’s Act, 2019 (Act 992) has enhanced the “ease of doing business in Ghana” by simplifying the process of company registration to ensure that Ghana becomes a competitive and transparent investment destination.
The Beneficial Ownership, the Registrar General said, is a term in domestic and international commercial law that refers to the natural persons who exercise significant influence over and receive profits from a company who are not its legal owners.
“Some people can assign a ‘nominee’ in relation to their shareholding or directorship position at the board and they would be at the back end controlling affairs, they would have a legal arrangement with such persons that we would not be privy to…but things have changed now,” She disclosed.
Jemima Oware explained that, from October 2020, whoever wishes to register a company to operate in the extractive industry should visit www.rgd.gov.gh, download the beneficial ownership form and provide the data on who the beneficial owners of the company are.
“No thresholds exist for shareholders and directors of extractive industries players operating in Ghana.
“Whether you own 1 per cent or 2 per cent that has to be disclosed. However, if it’s a foreign company within the extractive industry operating in Ghana, that shareholder must have at least 5% before the disclosure is made on the BO register,” she said.
The Registrar-General noted none of the country’s laws provided for disclosure of beneficial ownership, until last year. This made it easier for companies to hide the identities of their owners if necessary.
“Following the release of the Panama Papers and the global efforts to address issues related to anti-corruption and tax evasion, the Ghanaian government has come under pressure to act on beneficial ownership disclosure, hence the passage of the new Companies Act, 2019 (Act 992).
“Government is committed to meeting a number of international obligations regarding the implementation of the Beneficial Ownership regime. She explained that Government in partnership with the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GEITI) and Financial Action Taskforce would help in meeting the deadline for the various beneficial ownership requirements.”