DONOR: UkAid (via Transparency International Secretariat)
DURATION: October 2016 – September 2017
LOCATION: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya
Major corruption scandals hitting the news often share key commonalities: the people at the centre of the scandal use a complex web of anonymous companies, trusts and other legal entities situated across multiple jurisdictions to transfer and hide their illicitly sourced funds.
In recent years commitments have been made at the highest level to tackle the misuse of these corporate vehicles and trusts, and to increase transparency around who ultimately owns, controls or is benefitting from them. In May 2016 at an International Anti-Corruption Summit held in London, United Kingdom, a number of governments around the world, including Ghana made strong commitments to uphold transparency, integrity and comply with its various international obligations regarding the implementation of beneficial ownership. The project seeks to:
- Ensure that governments will renew commitments to establish policy and legal reforms to enhance beneficial ownership
- Increase capacity/knowledge of CSO stakeholders on addressing corruption through increased beneficial ownership transparency
- Ensure that each implementing country has strong stakeholder dialogues on beneficial ownership
Ghana is one of the first countries in Africa to have legal provisions on issues pertaining to beneficial ownership. The companies Act 1963 (Act 179) was amended in July, 2016 to include Provisions on beneficial ownership. This comes after enormous pressure from civil society and other stakeholders particularly following the Panama leaks and the global call by anti-corruption and tax advocates for countries to act on beneficial ownership.
Additionally, the government of Ghana had also made a 12-point commitment at the London Anti-Corruption summit and previous commitments made under the Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative among others to act on a beneficial ownership regime. The Companies (Amended) Act of 2016 and the provisions it makes on beneficial ownership are a welcome intervention to reduce corrupt practices, money laundering, ensure contract transparency in public procurement and will eliminate the potential financing of all other illegal acts.
What the country is therefore awaiting is the regulations accompanying the law and a road map on how to build the capacities of all stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation of the law.
To bring about change GII will focus on providing public education on the beneficial ownership law (included in the Company Amended Act 2016) especially to resource rich districts in Ghana, the media and civil society. Furthermore, GII will make recommendations for reform where necessary or improvement in implementation of the beneficial ownership provisions.
Specifically, GII will assess the new beneficial ownership law to establish whether there are any gaps that require further legislative/political action. To build capacity of various actors, GII will develop an “ABC” Guide on the new law and how information on beneficial ownership can be collected, shared and used to tackle corruption. GII will work with targeted civil society organizations to build their capacities on the law and will specifically train Anti-Corruption champions in oil, gas and gold rich districts of two regions. Finally, to amplify the message, GII will train 10 community radio journalists on the main issues of beneficial ownership to support and facilitate community education, awareness creation and sensitization.
The project is designed to be sustainable given the collaborations it is establishing particularly with SCOs working on Natural Resource Governance in Ghana as well as the Public Procurement Authority and the Registrar of Companies in Ghana. Finally, documentation and sharing of lessons learned will be done throughout the project.
Results Achieved so Far
On February 2-3, 2017 GII collaborated with Transparency International and hosted a Regional Workshop for the project. It brought together experts from the UK, USA, Kenya, Nigeria representing civil society, the private sector and government bodies who shared their expertise on relevant topics including beneficial ownership registers, extractives, open data, open contracting and procurement, tax and financial flows.
The event was honoured by the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia. At the event, the VP reiterated Ghana’s commitment to ensure transparency in the procurement processes, awarding of contracts, commodity markets and to prevent any facilitation of corruption.
GII has also solidified its relationship with the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) and is working closely with representatives of the institution to track and document progress that Ghana is making in terms of its London Summit commitments.
Just for Show? Reviewing G20 Promises on Beneficial Ownership, Transparency International
Technical Guide: Implementing the G20 Beneficial Ownership Principles, Transparency International