Senegal has laid a good foundation for the implementation of an economy-wide beneficial ownership reporting regime that is aligned with international best practice. It has embedded a robust definition in primary legislation. The collection and reporting of BO information for the purposes of EITI reporting provides a pilot project which has given the country experience, albeit with a limited number of companies and in just one economic sector.
The reality of implementing EITI reporting has shown the difficulty in ensuring compliance, as there are gaps in the information submitted. It also shows the importance of having a system in place for companies listed on the stock exchange, foreign listed companies and state-owned enterprises. The pilot also shows the importance of setting a reporting threshold at a level that balances risk with practicality. Furthermore, the EITI reporting system is limited, not only in coverage but also in the availability of the data. The data is only accessible to the public through the annual EITI report or through a formal application to RCCM.
For Senegal to implement an economy-wide BO reporting system, it will need to enact stand-alone legislation that creates a legal obligation on all legal entities to identify their beneficial owners, record that information and submit it (along with documentary evidence) to a duly-mandated authority (possibly the RCCM). The legislation should also create a legal obligation on the government to collect BO information in a structured and standardised format, verify the information and make that available both to government agencies and the public through a central register. The legislation should additionally reflect all the recommendations made in this report.
In drafting, enacting and implementing the legislation, the government will have to make a series of policy and tactical decisions. In order to support this decision-making process, the government should establish a multi-disciplinary taskforce that has representatives of relevant government agencies and is chaired by an appropriate ministry (probably the Ministry of Justice). The taskforce could gather evidence and provide recommendations on policy, strategy and tactics. The agencies represented should include the Tax Authority, RCCM, and the Ministries of Mines, Oil and Gas.
The benefits to Senegal of implementing an economy-wide BO register go beyond meeting international obligations. They include building trust in the economy, and making the economy more attractive to both domestic and foreign investors. BOT can contribute to creating a more open and competitive business environment, and access to reliable BO information provides greater clarity on who is investing in the economy and benefiting from the profits. Senegal also has an opportunity to demonstrate regional and global leadership in implementing a robust BO reporting regime. It would be among the first West African francophone countries to implement a public BO register and one of the few in Africa.