The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has inaugurated a Beneficiary Ownership Register (BOR) aimed at removing Nigeria from the grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The Registrar-General, CAC, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, made this disclosure at a workshop on the use of BOR, organised by the commission in Lagos on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that BOR allows anyone with a stake of five per cent or more in a legal entity or corporation to disclose such to CAC through the company where it is domiciled.
Also, FATF has placed Nigeria on on its grey list of the global watchdog for money laundering and terrorist financing.
FATF is an intergovernmental policy-making body that seeks to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
Abubakar, however, said that the placement of Nigeria on FATF grey list meant the country stood the risk of loosing investors.
The CAC boss explained that the new BOR initiative had a legal framework aimed at curbing money laundering and illicit financial flows carried out using corporate companies.
He said the BOR which was launched on May 25, asides from closing gaps, would help Nigeria exit the FATF grey list.
According to him, it will also try to make information about beneficial owners available to aid investigations and work.
Abubakar noted that the concept of the BOR disclosure would also support some provisions in the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020.
He said: “To know who may control a company, you may need to lift some veils and we must know how most procurements, processes are carries out using corporate companies.
“It is only proper for attention to be focus 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 provisions were included in CAMA to support the disclosure.
“By the provision of 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.
Also, the company discloses to the CAC within seven days upon disclosure.
“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 requirements of FATF and we would continue to map out strategies to address these concerns,” he said.
Abubakar said that with the BOR, lawyers, government agencies, civil societies doing investigative report do not need to write to the commission before they could get information on the beneficiary ownership register.
He added that there was an application that allows for system integration to check and was available publicly.
The registrar-general, however, said there was a level of safeguard for some levels of private information and the consequences of making such information available.
Abubakar said the commission was committed to giving the general public the best of services and would continue to improve to meet their needs.