From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja

The Federal Government yesterday disclosed that 70 per cent of corruption cases  are perpetrated by persons who use anonymous companies and  that  over $1 billion  has been recovered by governments using beneficial ownership data.

Minister of Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, made this disclosure in Abuja at the media presentation of Nigeria’s Road to Beneficial Ownership Transparency of the 2021 Open Government Partnership (OGP) Week.

Adebayo, who was represented by his permanent secretary, Dr Nasir Sani Gwarzo, also said that when the register of companies is  completed it will help government in decision-making especially around awards of contract  permit and licences.

“It will help decision makers to  quickly determine who benefits from the operations and profits of the company so as to avoid conflict of interest or manipulation,” he said.

According to him, the journey to establish a public register of beneficial  owners commenced in 2016 at the London Summit on Anti-Corruption where  President Muhammadu Buhari  joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

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“At the time of this declaration in 2016, there was no legal framework to commence the implementation of the beneficial ownership disclosure in Nigeria. This necessitated the amendment of Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) which the president signed in August 2020, paving way for the commencement of implementation of disclosure principles.

“The Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 has provisions dealing with disclosure of Persons with Significant Control (PSC) who have, at least, five per cent of voting equity holding or voting rights and who are ultimate beneficial owners of such registered entities to disclose such interest” he said.

In his welcome address, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Clem Ikanade Agba, disclosed that the Global Support Unit of the Open Government Partnership through the Multi-Donor Trust Fund awarded a grant of $400,000 to Nigeria.

“This grant is managed by the World Bank and we are at the final stages of documentation for the release of this grant,” he said.

The minister further noted that the OGP Multi-Donor Trust Fund, Open Government Partnership with the support of development partners and working  together with World Bank, established the OGP Multi-Donor Trust Fund (or the MDTF) to support World Bank client countries and local entities that participate in OGP or intend to become eligible to participate in OGP.