Disclose beneficiary ownership to enhance business transparency in Ghana – ORC

The Registrar of Compa­nies, Mrs Jemima Oware, has called on businesses to disclose their beneficiary owners in line with the Companies Act, 2019 (Act 992) to promote transparency and provide a level playing field for the business community in Ghana.

A beneficiary owner is an in­dividual (a natural person and not a company) who directly or indi­rectly, ultimately owns or exercises substantial control over a person, company or economic interest.

Speaking during the UK-Gha­na Chamber of Commerce (UKG­CC)’s Mandatory Regulatory Com­pliance for Businesses in Ghana webinar series on “The Mandate and Beneficial Ownership of the Office of the Registrar of Compa­nies (ORC)”, reported by My­jononline, Mrs Oware remarked that companies are required to provide information on beneficial owners during the incorporation of a business.

She added that during incor­poration of businesses, compa­nies have within 28 days to make amendments on their beneficial owners.

Companies may also provide information on beneficial owners when filing annual returns and as an update to the Office of the Registrar. Furthermore, Compa­nies Limited by Shares, Companies Limited by Guarantee, Unlimited Liability Companies, and External Companies are also mandated by the law to submit information of beneficial ownership to the Registrar.

During the webinar, the Reg­istrar of Companies, whose office was created out of the Registrar General’s Department, observed that most companies fail to present the mandatory company and member registers when filing beneficial ownership documents. Others also state the Office of the Registrar as their beneficial owner.

She indicated that this was not the right practice. To rectify it, she remarked that “the office of the Registrar of Companies will com­pile registers online for businesses to purchase at a fee”. The Office will also ensure that a company has a designated officer (company secretary) who will ensure that their business is compliant.

Mrs Oware advised businesses to appoint people from recognised professional bodies, such as the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, Institute of Chartered Accountants Ghana and a Barrister or Solicitor in the Republic.

Mrs Oware revealed that her office is currently working on its digital platforms, which will be ready by November this year, and is aimed at optimising processes in compliance with the Companies Act, (Act 992).

“If you go into the Companies Act, after it was passed in 2019, it said 5 years after that we should go fully online and so we are pushing for that.”

The new platform will enhance ease of doing business, such as granting persons the opportunity to register their businesses from their phones.

The Office is also working to establish a VVIP unit in service centres to reduce the turnaround time for document processing at a fee.

She also discussed other pertinent issues such as corporate insolvency and restructuring, the importance of keeping company registers, and reforms to company registrations.

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