CoSP10 recognition of Nigeria’s commitment to Beneficial Ownership transparency, Asset Recovery big Victory for stakeholders — ANEEJ
ATLANTA, GEORGIA. December 18, 2023…. Anti-corruption watchdog, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), a leading civil society organization dedicated to combating corruption has welcomed the resolution of the Tenth Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (CoSP10) held in Atlanta, United States, from December 11 to 15, 2023 which recognized Nigeria’s rising profile in beneficial ownership and transparency in asset recovery, saying it is big victory for all stakeholders working on the issue in Nigeria .
Executive Director of ANEEJ and Vice President of UNCAC Coalition, the Rev David Ugolor in a statement issued in Atlanta, Georgia said “I am particularly elated about Nigeria’s rising profile as a leading country in Asset recovery and beneficial ownership transparency of legal persons and legal arrangements in the UN. This is coming after intense and difficult rounds of negotiations, which commenced in Vienna in November, and to the glory of God, the draft resolution on beneficial ownership transparency was agreed in the committee of whole, now adopted as a resolution of CoPs 10. This is big victory for those of us working in the sector.”
Ugolor, a Sussex University Alumni further stated that “the resolution highlights a significant step forward in the global fight against corruption. The commitment to enhancing beneficial ownership transparency aligns with our mission to hold those engaging in corrupt acts accountable. The Conference, in its resolution on “Enhancing the Use of Beneficial Ownership Information to Strengthen Asset Recovery,” underscores the crucial role of beneficial ownership transparency in combating corruption & addressing the misuse of legal entities for concealing illicit proceeds.
“We are encouraged that the conference recognizes that the loss of resources caused by corruption, including complex cases such as those involving multiple national jurisdictions and vast quantities of assets, which constitutes a substantial proportion of the resources of States, and has a particularly negative impact on developing countries like Nigeria.
“We are particularly happy that the tenth session of the conference of the States Parties (CoSP10) to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) also recognized Nigeria as one of the leading countries in the implementation of Beneficial Ownership Transparency by developing its register which can be accessed on the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI)’s website,” Ugolor said.
The ANEEJ boss also noted that “with the Register, any person can easily ascertain who owns what in Nigerian Companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs). This is crucial in combatting corruption, illicit financial flows, and other forms of criminality under the cover of Companies and LLPs. It also promotes transparency in the conduct of business in Nigeria.
He urged State parties, including the Nigerian government to ensure access to adequate, accurate and up-to-date beneficial ownership information of legal persons and legal arrangements, and, as necessary, consider maintaining historical records, that is searchable by domestic competent authorities, including as appropriate, financial intelligence units and tax administrations, in accordance with domestic law. “Civil Society and the media should have access to updated information on the platform,” Ugolor demanded.
To promote and combat the scourge called corruption, we urge States parties to cooperate closely with one another, bearing in mind the need to provide one another the widest measures of international cooperation, in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption and domestic law, to facilitate the efficient exchange of adequate, accurate and up-to-date beneficial ownership information in a timely manner, and where appropriate and feasible, through the use of digital and innovative technologies, including to facilitate the recovery and return of assets – Ugolor noted.
He called on State parties to adopt a multipronged approach to beneficial ownership transparency through appropriate mechanisms that provide access to adequate, accurate and up-to-date beneficial ownership information on legal persons and legal arrangements in order to facilitate the investigation and prosecution of cases of corruption and the identification, recovery and return of stolen assets. in accordance with the Convention and the fundamental principles of their domestic law.
Recall that Section 119 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (“CAMA”) 2020, in conjunction with the Persons with Significant Control Regulations (“PSC Regulations”) 2022, requires companies, Limited Liability Partnerships (“LLPs”), and by extension, foreign exempted companies under section 80 of CAMA 2020 and government-owned entities in Nigeria to disclose details of their beneficial owners and those with significant control over the company.
This is in line with global efforts to combat money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illegal activities. Section 119(3) mandates the Corporate Affairs Commission (the “CAC”) to maintain a register of persons with significant control, also known as the Beneficial Ownership Register (“The Register”) in the relevant entities.