Feb 21, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and Open Ownership, a global non-profit organization recently launched Opening Extractives, a global programme to advance beneficial ownership transparency. It aims to make a dramatic and sustainable difference to the level of publicly available information on the individuals who own and control extractive companies.
The project will be partly funded by the BHP Foundation, a leading global resources company, and delivered by the EITI International Secretariat and Open Ownership.
According to a statement on the launch from the EITI, to which Guyana is a member of, anonymous companies remain a major obstacle in the fight against money laundering and corruption. The global body reminded that these unknown companies enable corrupt and criminal actors, often with close political connections, to hide behind chains of companies registered in multiple jurisdictions.
The EITI went on to point out that a recent study using data from Colombia highlighted the value of this data, while weighing in that publishing details of company ownership enables effective taxation and brings data to light that can be used to identify and address corruption. It added to that it could help build fairer markets, encourage responsible investment and manage business risk.
“Opening Extractives will ultimately improve the quality of life of millions of people in resource-rich countries,” said James Ensor, BHP Foundation Chief Executive Officer and President. “Natural resources are ultimately owned by the citizens of every country in which the resources industry operates. Beneficial ownership transparency is critical to ensuring the revenues generated by the natural resources industry provide maximum benefit to every single citizen. But to be successful it requires governments, industry and civil society to work together – which is why this initiative is so important.”
Thom Townsend, Executive Director of Open Ownership said: “We are at a tipping point to move from commitments to the implementation of beneficial ownership transparency, and Opening Extractives will accelerate progress. Anonymous companies are the getaway vehicle of choice for stolen public money, and beneficial ownership transparency is the most effective way to close this down. The Luanda Leaks were a powerful reminder of how some resource-rich countries have suffered and how public information can thwart corrupt activity.”
“I am confident that this unique partnership is a recipe for delivering a step change in natural resource governance,” said Mark Robinson, EITI Executive Director. “The project will seek to mobilize political and stakeholder commitment and build the technical capability required to publish and use complex data. It has the potential to scale beyond the extractive sector and beyond the programme’s initial group of focus countries.”
This project comes at a time when the transparency advocates are calling for more transparency in the award of two of Guyana’s lucrative oil blocks. These blocks, the Kaieteur and Canje Blocks, with a total unproven prospect reserve of 12.11 billion barrels of oil, were awarded under less than transparent terms.
Notably, two of the owners of the two blocks, JHI Associates and Ratio Petroleum, are incorporated in secrecy jurisdictions like the British Virgin Islands and Gibraltar, a British overseas territory.
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