Garba Abubakar, registrar general of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), said the commission mandated companies to disclose their beneficial owners at the time of registration.
He said it was to “strengthen transparency and support the anti-corruption initiative” of President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Abubakar revealed this during a press briefing on “The register of beneficial owners, an antidote to corruption” organized by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC) in Lagos on Wednesday.
He said all companies that have registered with the commission from Jan.3 to date have been mandated to disclose their significant controlling persons or beneficial owners at the time of registration.
The CCA registrar also said that for companies registered before Jan. 3, disclosure would start from their next annual reports based on each company’s year-end.
He added that companies that have filed their annual financial reports from January to date are required to disclose who has significant control.
“Nigeria has started to implement beneficial ownership disclosure in line with the commitment made by the President at the London Anti-Corruption Summit in 2016. It took so long to start implementation due to the lack of a legal framework, ”he said.
“The Companies and Related Affairs Law of 2020 has been enacted and now provides for mandatory disclosure of those with significant control. The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) is the agency responsible for giving effect to the provision of this new law, since January 3 of this year, the CAC has deployed an electronic register that covers all aspects of our registration services. , and this includes disclosure of beneficial ownership.
“From January 3 until the present, each company registered with the CAC must disclose its material controlling persons or beneficial owners at the time of registration and whenever there is a change in the information or at the time of registration. from the filing of annual returns for new companies registered from the third of January to date, the information is available if you go to pre.cac.gov.ng, you click on any company registered from the third of January To date, you can view this information free of charge.
“For companies registered before that date, disclosure will start from their next annual reports, and it depends on the year-end of each company.
Companies that have filed their annual financial reports from January to date are required to disclose their significant controlling persons.
“All that is essential is to strengthen transparency and support the government’s anti-corruption initiative, so that as a citizen, if you have reason to believe that the information on the portal does not reflect faithfully owned by the company. then you can escalate this information and report it to the appropriate agencies for investigation.
Also speaking, Auwal Rafsanjani, executive director of CISLAC, said the availability of the commission’s decision would allow anti-corruption agencies and relevant stakeholders to monitor the movement of illicit funds and the people behind.
He also said that by signing the Companies and Related Affairs (Amendment) Act 2020, the Nigerian government has made significant progress in implementing beneficial ownership transparency.
Rafsanjani added that arrangements should be made for a fully automated computer system with human supervision that will have access to relevant data, in order to regularly check the credibility of the information recorded.
“The Nigerian government has made significant progress in implementing beneficial ownership transparency, as indicated by the signing of the Companies and Related Affairs (Amendment) Act 2020 and the ongoing process towards the establishment of beneficial ownership. ‘A central registry for the disclosure of all legal persons in the country that would encompass and complement the beneficial ownership registry of extractive sector companies already established by NEITI in December 2019, ”he said.
“Let’s be clear that beneficial ownership and the broader issue of money laundering is not just a Nigerian or an African issue. But as long as the inefficiency and lack of political will to clean up our systems persists, the consequences in the form of terrorist financing, transnational organized crime, tax evasion and the illegal enrichment of politically exposed persons will prevail.
“We are therefore seeking to advocate for the identification of a verification process which guarantees that the persons registered in the official register are authentic, that is to say that they are indeed who they claim to be, authorized, that is, these people have agreed to be involved in a legal entity and that all data recorded is valid.