OrderPaperToday – The Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has said a beneficial ownership ownership register for the extractives sector will be presented around October.

Director, Communications and Advocacy at NEITI, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, stated this while providing an update on Nigeria’s quest for beneficial ownership disclosure before the January 2020 deadline given by the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).

In an exclusive interview with OrderPaperNG, Orji revealed that the development of a template for the beneficial ownership register has reached an advanced stage and will be presented to extractive companies soon ahead of an official commissioning in October.

He noted that the register will mitigate the dangers of corruption, money laundering, tax evasion, and terrorism financing while promoting foreign investment in the extractive sector as potential investors would be more likely to invest when they know that there is transparency in the sector and that they would not be competing unfavourably against government officials with vested interests.

According to Orji, “Nigeria is working towards meeting that requirement as contained in the EITI Standards. NEITI has published a beneficial ownership roadmap for implementation by January 2020.

“A lot of progress has been made so far; the template of the register has gotten to an advanced stage in its development and will be presented to the extractive companies soon. Also procurement and installation of software, test run and commissioning of the register are the next steps on the project.

“Working with stakeholders, we expect the register to be ready by October this year.”

The Director also provided an update on a legal framework for beneficial ownership disclosure revealing that the new provisions in the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) amendment bill are modelled after the UK concept which deals with the wider framework of control of corporate entities as opposed to the narrow definition of ownership.

He said: “We are aware that the process to amend the law to create room for beneficial ownership disclosure has commenced. The draft amendment is before the National Assembly. The Corporate Affairs Commission is on top of this. The major concern when the Law was enacted in 1990 was on concentration of ownership and not about anti-corruption and transparency.

“The provisions of section 94 of CAMA do not meet the objectives of FATF Recommendations R24 and 10.5 as well as the various commitments of EITI and OGP on beneficial ownership disclosure.  The draft bill for the re-enactment of the CAMA has widened to concept to cover all persons with significant control in line with international best practices”

Speaking further, the NEITI chief addressed concerns over the operation of a beneficial ownership register, stressing that the document will not “undermine” national security.

 “The register is to promote transparency without undermining national security. It only requires full disclosure of the real owners of the company, the level of equity commitment, who owns what in the company and how acquired among other vital questions.

“If beneficial ownership register has any concerns at all on security, it is failure to disclose this information that has constituted the major problem. This is because disclosure of beneficial owners will help provide information and data on the following: corruption, money laundering, tax evasion, and terrorism financing,” he concluded.

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Damilola is a multiple award-winning Writer, Researcher, and Community/Sustainable Development Practitioner. His interests and experience span across media, academics, human capital development, and strategic planning. Damilola is the first Nigerian in history to win the blog4dev writing contest organised by the World Bank. Also, his writing on violent extremism and sustainable peace in Nigeria won a PeaceWriteNow prize, presented by the Embassy of Ireland in June, 2018. His works have been published in Nigeria and the United States of America, in English and in French. Damilola has also attended important meetings within and outside the African continent including the 2019 Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C, USA. He was also a special guest on a panel discussion titled “How creative industry can help to stem fragility,” which was held at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington, D.C, USA. Furthermore, Damilola was selected as a Champion of Advocacy against extreme poverty and preventable diseases by ONE Campaign in May, 2019. An alumnus of the prestigious Lagos Business School and Federal University of Technology Akure, Damilola Adeniran represents Nigeria in the Youth Transforming Africa Program.

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