15 Nov 2021

Criminals using anonymous companies, threat to anti-money laundering fight

Criminals using anonymous companies are the major obstacle in the fight against money laundering and corruption in Nigeria, the Federal Government said on Tuesday.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said this at the Nigerian inauguration of Opening Extractives in Abuja, which focused on revealing the beneficial owners of companies in the extractive industries.

She said, “The Federal Government is aware and concerned that anonymous companies remain the major obstacle in the fight against money laundering and corruption.

“They enable corrupt and criminal actors, often with close political connections, to hide behind the chains of companies registered in multiple jurisdictions, to deny the Nigerian citizens of the benefits they should derive from their common wealth.”

Ahmed stated that the government believed that access to quality beneficial ownership information and data had the capacity to strengthen accountability and transparency.

This, according to her, will invariably improve governance of the energy and mining revenues, support businesses, curtail corruption, stop illicit financial flows and help fight insecurity.

“We did not rest on our oars. Last year, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the new Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 into Law,” the minister stated.

Ahmed said, “The CAMA2020 gives legal backing to the Corporate Affairs Commission to request entities doing business in Nigeria to mandatorily disclose persons with significant control or stake in companies.”

She further noted that the Petroleum Industry Act would also help in the fight against corruption, adding that it would support in addressing beneficial ownership related issues.

Also speaking at the event, the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Gbenga Komolafe, said the commission would work with the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to deepen the implementation of contract transparency and beneficial ownership disclosures.

This, he said, would ensure that the revenues from natural resource assets support national development and help reduce poverty.

Komolafe said, “At the NUPRC, we have implemented beneficial ownership reporting system, as it is a statutory requirement which demands full disclosure of beneficial ownership information.

“To this end, the Nigerian Oil and Gas Asset Beneficial Ownership Register portal has been developed by commission’s ICT team and is live. The commission is engaging the oil and companies to ensure their mandatory compliance.”

During its oil and gas audit in 2012, NEITI had requested companies to disclose information on who their real owners were.

Culled from Punch