AFRICA: ‘Beneficial ownership’ register to become functional in Nigeria by July 2022.

As published on guardian.ng, Friday 29 April, 2022.

The Civil Society Representative on the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) Board, Peter Egbule, has stated that plans are ongoing to deploy a functional beneficial ownership register by July this year, noting that the register would be accessible to both public and private users in the country.

Egbule stated this on the sidelines of a policy dialogue on beneficial ownership transparency in the Nigerian extractive sector.

According to him, beneficial ownership is a concept that would help to identify unknown persons who own corporate entities rather than people whose names appear on the register, adding that this would bring about transparency and accountability in the public and private space.

In his words: “Today’s policy dialogue is basically to discuss public dialogue with the key stakeholders and the anti-corruption agencies on the outstanding issues or challenges in really establishing and deploying the functional, beneficial ownership register in Nigeria and it is also with the intention to identify points of collaboration, because we are all interested in a better Nigeria.

“Essentially, if you, if you have money and this money, is gotten from illegal activity, it is difficult for you to deploy it in activities within the society because of certain measures and systems, but you can also give another person the money to do this business so that your name does not need to appear in the register. But the person fronting in Nigeria language fronting as a manager or the director knows who he reports to. We hope that the report would checkmate this illegal activity by unscrupulous individuals.”

Earlier, the Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Ibrahim Musa, explained while legitimate corporate businesses have an integral role in national development, the involvement of politically exposed persons who conceal corruptly acquired wealth through the complex networks of companies deliberately created to hide their identities has further increased the risks they pose to non-fortified economies.

He stated that the Siemens, Halliburton and Malabu oil scandals, to cite a few high-profile cases, had a net impact on revenue leakages that were unbearable for the country’s finances and the citizens’ economic well-being.

He added that as long as wrong incentives and dysfunctional supervision dominate the nation’s national financial systems, consequences in the form of terrorism financing, transnational organized crime, tax evasion and illegal enrichment of politically exposed persons would continue to prevail.

“We believe that a collaborative partnership by relevant stakeholders in the beneficial ownership campaign will help give a voice to this simple but strategic endeavour that will help curb corruption in our financial, procurement and other strategic sectors and contribute effectively to domestic revenue mobilisation for financing development of critical sectors of the economy,” he said.