The Registrar-General’s Department (RGD) has issued a deadline for the declaration of beneficial ownership of companies in the country.
According to the Department, existing companies are to submit all data on their legal and beneficial owners before July 1, 2021.
It is conventional to find businesses in Ghana registered in the name of directors who are not the actual legal beneficiaries of the business, although the law requires that the actual owners be declared.
Indeed, when companies are registered, there are no administrative requirements to fill in the details of the actual owners of the business apart from the directors and secretaries.
But the Registrar-General, Jemima Oware said her outfit has now provided forms online for companies to download and fill in the data of the legal owners and beneficiaries, and every company is expected to do so between now and July 1, 2021.
She said currently, all new businesses registering with the Registrar-General are required to download the legal owners and beneficiaries forms, fill and attach to the registration document before they will be accepted.
“From January, every business that comes to register is supposed to download the forms, fill it and attach it to the registration documents. So we have started collecting them,” she noted during a media sensitization workshop in Accra.
She added that “For the legacy data, i.e., businesses that already existed before we deployed the beneficial ownership register from October 1, 2020, we are giving them up to June 30 to update us with their beneficial ownership information because, after June 30, sanctions will kick-in.”
The Registrar-General first announced the plan to create a Beneficial Ownership (BO) register in 2018.The deployment of the BO register begun in September 2020 with the extractive industry and other high-risk sectors like banks and other financial institutions.
With the register fully deployed now, the Registrar-General is asking all companies to submit details of the actual owners of the companies by the end of June this year to prevent sanctions.
The Companies Act 2019 (Act 992) provides for the collection of data on beneficial owners of all companies. The Beneficial Ownership regime requires the declaration of the true owners of every company operating in Ghana.
The information, which would be held in a Central Register by the Registrar of Companies, would be available to the business community, the general public and to competent authorities to promote business transparency.
Details of the beneficial owner of a company will also help minimize domestic and cross-border bribery and corruption, fraud and illegal financial transactions.
The Beneficial Owner of an entity is therefore a person who will enjoy the economic rights stemming from the entity, regardless of whether the entity’s ownership is registered in his or her name.