On 31 May, Armenia formally launched its participation in the Opening Extractives programme - a joint initiative of Open Ownership (OO) and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) which aims to improve beneficial ownership transparency (BOT) in the extractives sector and beyond.
The launch event, a workshop held in the capital Yerevan, featured the participation of around 35 local stakeholders involved in the country’s ongoing work to gather and use beneficial ownership data. It included presentations from senior government officials from the Ministry of Justice, the State Registry, and the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as the participation of the Central Bank, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Environment, procurement agencies and others.
Armenia has already made impressive progress on who ultimately owns and controls companies operating in its jurisdiction, and serves as an important case study for how to move quickly from commitments to action on BOT. In early 2021, it published information on the beneficial owners of extractive industry firms and has since passed legislation requiring disclosures by all companies by 2023. Moreover, Armenia was one of the first countries worldwide to publish data in line with the beneficial ownership data standard, as we reported in September 2021, and has incorporated Open Ownership’s data visualisation tool directly into its e-register.
Towards a verification system
The launch workshop this May focused on the next major challenge for the country in this area: how to further improve the quality, accuracy and reliability of its beneficial ownership data. This will be especially important as Armenia anticipates that its level of beneficial ownership declarations will increase by more than a hundred fold from January 2023, as a much wider range of companies will be required to disclose.
The main focus of the support provided under the Opening Extractives programme will see OO and the EITI working with local stakeholders to develop Armenia’s data verification mechanisms, and to manage the processing and use of the increased volume of beneficial ownership declarations. This initiative will build on OO’s long-standing programme of enhanced technical assistance provided to Armenia since formalising our partnership in 2019. Our August 2020 scoping study gives an assessment of the BOT regime in Armenia at that time, and our recommendations.
Along with technical support to assist with implementation, the Opening Extractives programme is also focusing on helping to improve the use of beneficial ownership data in Armenia. A capacity-building programme was held in December 2021 for journalists and civil society organisations interested in using data, and this will be followed by other initiatives in autumn this year.
These initiatives will continue to support Armenia in its pioneering role across multiple areas of beneficial ownership transparency and data use.