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A Beneficial Ownership Register (BOR) has been inaugurated by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to remove Nigeria from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) gray list.
A workshop on BOR, organised by the commission in Lagos on May 25th, was attended by the Registrar-General, CAC, Alhaji Garba Abubakar. The CAC requires individuals holding interests in legal entities or corporations of greater than 5% to disclose those interests to the company where that entity is incorporated. Additionally, FATF has placed Nigeria on its gray list of terrorist financing and money laundering.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is a multilateral policy-making body established to combat terrorism financing and money laundering. According to Abubakar, Nigeria risks losing investors due to its inclusion on the FATF gray list.
According to the head of CAC, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, the new BOR initiative is based on a legal framework intended to prevent money laundering and the facilitation of illicit financial flows through corporate entities. The BOR, launched on May 25th, is expected to close gaps in the Nigerian economy and assist Nigeria in exiting the FATF gray list. Moreover, he noted that it would attempt to make information about beneficial owners available in order to aid investigation and prosecution. It has been suggested that a BOR disclosure could also comply with provisions of the CAMA 2020 law.
Abubakar stated, “To know who may control a company, you may need to lift some veils, and we must know how most procurements, processes are carried out using corporate companies. It is only proper for attention to be focused on companies, and this BOR is the legal framework to support that to promote open and transparent register of beneficial ownership. Stakeholders agreed that CAC should drive the process for beneficial ownership implementation, and CAMA included provisions to support the disclosure. By Section 119 of CAMA, if you control up to five per cent of shares or control any influence or have any trust arrangement whether registered or not, you have to disclose to the company within 30 days.”
Furthermore, the CAC is notified of the disclosure within 7 days of it. He further added, “Dynamics like disclosing any form of political affiliation is critical to ascertaining if there is any sort of connection to the business. All these and more are the gaps we need to close to satisfy FATF’s requirements, and we will continue to map out strategies to address these concerns.”
Abubakar said that attorneys, government agencies, and civil societies conducting investigations do not need to write to the commission for information about beneficial ownership registers with the BOR. In addition, an application was available that allowed system integration for checking. According to the registrar-general, certain levels of private information are safeguarded, and the consequences of disclosing them are considered. In his remarks, Abubakar said the commission would continue to improve services to meet the needs of the general public.