PM Rowley and EITI on same page
By Victor Hart, Chair TTEITI Steering Committee and EITI Board Member.
For the past three years, the EITI International Board has advocated disclosure of the names of the beneficial owners of oil, gas and mining companies as a further step towards achieving transparency and accountability in the extractive industries. In February 2016, at the 7th EITI Global Conference in Lima, Peru, attended by a delegation from TTEITI, the EITI Standard 2016 was adopted and included a new requirement that, by 1st January 2020, all EITI implementing countries must publish a Beneficial Ownership Register.
We of the TTEITI saw that requirement as a big challenge but were heartened when T&T’s Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, while addressing world leaders at the Anti-Corruption Summit 2016 in London on 12 May, said among other things:
‘Trinidad and Tobago is committed to the fight against the scourge of corruption and to pursuing those that have engaged in acts of corruption with a goal of successful prosecution and recovering as many assets that are the fruits of corrupt act for the benefit of the Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.
Trinidad and Tobago is open and committed to assisting its international partners in the fight against corruption. Trinidad and Tobago will work towards the establishing of a registry of company beneficial ownership information. Trinidad and Tobago commits to ensuring that law enforcement agencies have full and effective access to beneficial ownership information for companies and other legal entities registered within its jurisdiction.’
Clearly, Dr. Rowley and his government are on the same page as the EITI, therefore, TTEITI’s aim of publishing its first Beneficial Ownership Registry during 2016, as reported in the TTEITI Newsletter No. 6, can expect government’s full support.
Underlying the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) requirement of beneficial ownership disclosure is the fact that, whereas transparency about government’s revenues from the extractive sectors is important for accountability, it does not tell the whole story. Equally important is who owns and ultimately profits from the activities of the oil, gas and mining companies.
The EITI Standard requires that implementing countries maintain a publicly available register of the beneficial owners of the corporate entity (ies) that bid for, operate or invest in extractive assets, including the identity(ies) of their beneficial owner(s), the level of ownership and details about how ownership or control is exerted. Where possible, beneficial ownership information should be incorporated in existing filings by companies to corporate regulators, stock exchanges or agencies regulating extractive industry licensing.
EITI Chair Fredrik Reinfeldt said at the London Summit, “EITI members are showing leadership on beneficial ownership disclosure”. That issue was among the central pillars of the Summit and Heads of State, senior industry and civil society leaders discussed it, among others, and strategies were proposed for international cooperation to tackle them.