Beneficial Ownership: NEITI to sanction defaulters of company registration

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

18 March 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) has said it will sanction oil and gas companies who provide wrong names of beneficial owners of companies.

NEITI’s Legal Director, Mr Peter Ogbobine, disclosed to the media in Abuja on Friday that the organisation would also start publishing names of real owners of companies by Jan. 1, 2020.

He said, “The people that are filling the (wrong) template for the beneficial owner on their company registration, we are going to make it in a way that there will be sanctions against them.

“So if the person filling the form puts a wrong name there, we will hold him liable and there will be criminal offences against him for lying and putting the wrong name of somebody who is not the beneficial owner. So it is to fish out those surrogates and to bring out the beneficial owners so that we know who they are, explain how they got their monies to get those licenses. So that is the essence of beneficial ownership.”

He added that “The Corporate Affairs Commission register is going to be more encompassing. It is not going to be only for extractive industries, it is going to be for all companies that operate in Nigeria. So you will know at any time who are the beneficial owners and who the true owners of that company are.”

According to Ogbobine, the new template would require the true names of company owners before registration in order to ensure more transparency in the system.

“When we send out our templates on beneficiary ownership, the company’s secretary or legal adviser must tell us who the real owners of the companies are. This is an anti-corruption tool that we want to use to ascertain the true owners of these extractive assets.”

The beneficiary ownership template is about getting the real owners of companies in the country to register it in their names and not hide behind surrogates.

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