Beneficial ownership transparency in Ghana

  • Publication date: 17 October 2023
  • Authors: Samuel Bekoe, Opening Extractives

Synopsis of recommendations

Key Principle(s) Gap/Challenge Recommendations Responsible agency
Definition, coverage The BO definition does not explicitly encompass trusts, which are susceptible to being used by beneficial owners to hide their identities in order to indirectly control or own interests in a legal entity. Ghana should consider including BO disclosure requirements in the impending Trust Bill for the administration and regulation of trusts in order to ensure comprehensive BO disclosure implementation, or it should otherwise consider amending existing BO provisions to explicitly include trusts. The ORC
Definition, threshold It is understood that the BO reporting threshold for all sectors (other than high-risk sectors) was set based on Ghana’s context, however, the threshold is relatively high and may not achieve maximum disclosure of beneficial owners. Ghana may consider decreasing the BO reporting thresholds for low-risk sectors in order to ensure maximum disclosure of ownership and control. The 20% threshold for all other sectors is relatively high. The ORC
Detail Ghana does not have a functioning online BO data collection form, which is one means of standardising BO data collection. The ORC could institute or fast-track plans to standardise BO data collection through the introduction of an online form. The ORC
Central register Ghana’s central register is facing major technical challenges which are affecting the efficiency of collecting BO information. There are challenges with both software and hardware. The ORC could ensure adequate consultation is made between the new software developer and the relevant stakeholders (including the OE programme) to ensure BO data disclosure software requirements align with best practice and service the needs of the data providers and users. The ORC, with technical support from the OE programme
Access Currently, public access to BO data in Ghana is based on satisfactory payment of a prescribed fee (GHC 25, equivalent to USD 2.20 [2]), and it can only be accessed manually, which hinders bulk access. In the development of a new digital register, the ORC could ensure that the new system supports efficient public access to single or bulk data digitally. The ORC
Structured data Ghana uses manual forms to collect BO information. Although well organised, the data is neither available in an auditable format nor in many other formats, including browsable format, bulk format, on a per-record basis and via an application programming interface (API). The ORC could consider undertaking a gap assessment of the existing data structure, consistent with the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard (BODS), to provide an appropriate baseline and identify key gaps in order to form a basis for the new software. The ORC, with technical support from the OE programme
Verification Ghana is currently finalising a legal basis for BO verification, but it has yet to institute verification processes and measures, including the various roles of other government agencies on BO data verification. To improve BO verification, the ORC, in collaboration with other relevant agencies e.g. competent authorities and law enforcement agencies (LEAs) should design robust verification processes and systems in order to check for the accuracy, reliability and validity of BO information. This should include the establishment of a team within the ORC to ensure compliance of verification measures (both pre- and post-submission of BO information); clear processes to allow for external verification and reporting of inaccuracies; as well as protection of the identities of individuals who report discrepancies. The ORC

The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), the Anti-Corruption Agency, the Minerals Commission (MinCom), and the Petroleum Commission (PetCom)
Up-to-date and historical records Ghana has been successful with the development of forms to improve regular BO data submission, however, enforcement on regular updates to changes in BO information is weak. The ORC should enforce reporting obligations that require BO changes to be recorded and updated with the ORC within a specific period of time in order to ensure that the records of the ORC are as up to date as possible.

The ORC should consider broadening regulations to capture specific data retention rules that encourage historical storage of BO data, which is valuable for investigative and due diligence processes, among others.

Under the new data software expected to be rolled out in 2023, the ORC, with support from the OE programme, should ensure that the software has the capacity to store historical data in a structured format in order to facilitate the use of such data for investigations and intelligence gathering.
The ORC, with support from the OE programme
Sanctions and enforcement Ghana has put in place enforcement mechanisms, while relevant state agencies have received capacity training to improve the enforcement and application of sanctions. However, compliance from legacy companies (companies registered before the introduction of BO regulations) is low, and the enforcement of sanctions for such companies could also be enhanced. The ORC should make data on noncompliance with declaration requirements publicly available.

The ORC should consider other non-financial sanctions, such as making compliance with BO disclosure obligations a condition precedent to annual returns filing, requests for certificates of good standing and any other corporate filing.

In line with the EITI Standard, the Ghana EITI (GHEITI) multi-stakeholder group (MSG) must disclose significant gaps or weaknesses in reporting BO information, including any entities that failed to submit all or some BO data.

Other government agencies, such as the MinCom, the PetCom and the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), should institutionalise BO disclosure by making it a condition precedent to licence approvals and contracting applications.

The MinCom, the PetCom, and the PPA

[2] Exchange rates in this report are based on the rate on 13 April 2023.

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