Non-disclosure of Beneficial Ownership Information to attract sanctions —Registrar-General
Accra, Sept. 8, GNA — Mrs Jemima Oware, the Registrar-General, on Tuesday cautioned companies that the failure to disclose beneficial ownership information accurately would attract sanctions from the Department.
“A fine of 150 penalty units or two-year imprisonment or both. We collaborate with the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).
“These are very competent institutions and we share information with them. So the data have to be accurate on all sides because we would find out if you lie to us,” she said.
Beneficial Ownership, a term in domestic and international commercial law, refers to the “natural persons” who exercise significant influence over and receive profits from a company even though they are not legal owners.
Mrs Oware told the Ghana News Agency in Accra that the beneficial ownership disclosure is a transparency tool that should be accepted by all members of the business community, especially Politically Exposed Persons.
She explained that BO information was generally considered a different class of data because it was collected as a result of a company’s desire to engage in or complete a financial activity in a specific market under the name of a specific legal entity and that these benefits differentiated ownership from holding assets under a private name.
Mrs Oware said persons or individuals with Trust Instruments or any form of legal relationships drawn up between them and certain companies had to be disclosed.
“All Registers must list the Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) and include the same basic information: name, the month of birth, nationality, country of residence, and nature/size of the interest held in the companies or entities and the Tax Identification Numbers (TIN).”
“In the mining, oil, and gas sectors, the implementation of the BO transparency disclosures are taking place through the Ghana Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) with the support of the Registrar-General,” she said.
She said notices were served to all companies to prepare, compile and submit their Register of Members and the full details of the Beneficial Owners between now and December 31, 2020.
The companies need to provide beneficial ownership information when they came to file their Annual Returns.
Mrs Oware said the Department was aware of the need to ensure that beneficial ownership data are publicly accessible whilst at the same time protecting an individual’s right to privacy.
“Even though these concerns exist, the need to protect people’s data will be respected especially in an era of high profile data breaches,” she said.