Understanding the Concept of Beneficial Ownership Disclosure

Beneficial ownership (BO) has become one of the major concerns of the extractives industry. What was once considered an intriguing academic concept is now regarded a major decision driver in tax planning. In the past, persons who exercised influence over and benefited from a company were of less interest to the public and policy makers. This means individuals could influence certain key decisions and actions in a company to their private benefit although they may not be visible representatives (such as directors, managers or employees) of such companies. This created an enabling structure for persons and companies to engage in improper activities such as tax evasion and money laundering among others which are usually made possible by shell companies and companies with complex structures. In the 21st century, it is no longer enough to know just the name of a company or its key management, but it has become equally necessary to know the true owners of any company. 

The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) was established in 2010 to contribute to development of alternative and innovative policy interventions through high-quality research, analysis and advocacy in the energy and extractives sector in Africa.

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