Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance budget and planning, says the federal government will be able to track monies linked to tax evasion, terrorist financing and corruption with the establishment of a register for beneficial owners.
Ahmed was speaking on Thursday in Abuja at a roundtable on beneficial ownership register in Nigeria.
“As we deliberate today, we should, therefore, be ambitious in our plans for implementing our beneficial ownership transparency reforms, recognizing the tremendous opportunity to extend such reforms beyond the extractives sector,” she said.
“This is particularly true given the important work being done here to establish a public central register for company beneficial owners.
“Through the establishment of such a central register, we will be able to follow monies linked to tax evasion, corruption, drug trafficking, money laundering and terrorism financing.”
According to her, Nigeria is among the countries taking bold steps with the use of beneficial ownership registers as a tool to fight against corruption in resource-rich sectors.
The minister noted that the lack of transparency has been an issue in the global extractive industry.
“In Nigeria, we have experienced significant challenges in managing sector corruption, leading to significant loss of revenue, security challenges and eroding public interest,” Ahmed said.
“This reality has served as a sobering wake-up call and resulted in a move towards establishing measures and standards that mandate the disclosure of the beneficial owners of such anonymous companies and the coordinated development of a national public register in the extractives industries and beyond.”
Also speaking at the event, Waziri Adio, executive secretary of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), said having the registers is only the first step in the fight against corruption.
“It is a very important beginning (establishing registers), it is not going to be the panacea to all the things we talked about – help us get revenue, fight corruption, it will help us see those engaged in money. The register will not automatically lead you to that,” Adio said.
“It will continue to be a work in progress, a beginning and not the end. For it to work, all of us must be ready to make it work.”
The federal government said it will publish the beneficial ownership register for the oil and gas industry on December 12.