Ghana begins process to disclose beneficial owners of petroleum contracts

Ghana has begun the process that will lead to the disclosure of beneficial owners of contracts, M. B. Abdul Razak, Coordinator for the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GEITI) says.

Oil Rig
Oil Rig

The GEITI Report on oil and gas for 2014 published in December 2015 released here criticized the current practice of awarding oil blocks and licenses using the open door negotiated process.

Oil Rig
Oil Rig
The report says, “This is not an open process and may lead to awarding oil blocks to inefficient operators. Again the details of these negotiations and contracts are not made available to the public.

It has therefore recommended to the country’s petroleum ministry to introduce licensing rounds including bidding and also make available on its website details of contracts with operators.

But speaking to Xinhua recently at a workshop in Dodowa, some 40 kms north of here, Razak observed the new Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standard required implementing countries including Ghana to agree on a roadmap on how to roll out the beneficial ownership regime.

“We have had some technical round table discussions with state and non-state actors, so we have started the initial discussions and we are doing that with the Open Governance Partnership (OGP), who also have a commitment to meet in the initiative to report on beneficial ownership. We have agreed on a draft framework on how to proceed,” he said.

Ghana has up to January 1, 2017 to establish a roadmap for the actual implementation on January 1, 2020 and this the GEITI Coordinator assured the country was on course in meeting the requirement of the EITI.

Beneficial ownership describes an entity that enjoys the possession and/or benefits of ownership such as receipt of income of a property even though its ownership or title is in the name of another entity known as nominee or registered owner.

One of the main loopholes in efforts to fight money laundering is that current laws do not require those forming a company to report who ultimately controls it.

Money laundering is not only a crime but also imposes significant costs both on developing and developed countries.
According to the United Nations, money laundering globally may reach 2 trillion United States Dollars (USD) annually.

Estimates suggest that half of this amount comes from developing countries, a figure which is more than seven times the total inflows they receive from international aid.

With efforts underway to publicly disclose beneficial ownership information in the West African country, it will help to break the vicious cycle of impunity that hidden ownership allows. The identification of who controls a company and its profits will increase financial transparency and help to stop the corruption in the oil and gas sector.

Story: Francis Tandoh


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