The Registrar General’s Department (RGD), in accordance with the Companies Act 2019 (Act 992), has announced that any company that does not provide the name of its Beneficial Owners (BO) by June 30, 2021 would be severely sanctioned.
To ease the submission of BO, the RGD has completed an upgrade of its electronic register to enable it to receive the BO data from companies. According to the department, since October 2020, it has sent notices to all businesses under its ambit to complete a form that outline the names of all Beneficial Owners and submit it as the new Companies’ Act stipulates but many firms are yet to comply.
The Beneficial Ownership, the Registrar General said, is a term in domestic and international commercial law that refers to the natural persons who exercise significant influence over and receive profits from a company who are not its legal owners.
Speaking at a sensitization workshop, the Register-General, Jemima Oware said: “After June 30 if you have not done what we are saying then penalties would kick in as well as penalties for late filing of annual returns because we have tied the two to each other. We piloted with the extractive sector from October to December and we had about 1,500 companies complying.
We have opened it up and added legacy companies which are companies that were already in existence before the BO regulation kicked in and also, any new companies that come to register at our office would have to submit names of BO, so they should come prepared. Due to this, we are expecting a lot more companies to comply by the end of June 30.”
According to the RGD, the move is important to ensure the nation is in full compliance with some international conventions to better the economic fortunes of the country and its citizens.
Government, she noted, is committed to meeting a number of international obligations regarding the implementation of the Beneficial Ownership regime. She explained that the government in partnership with the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GEITI) and the Financial Action Task Force would help in meeting the deadline for the various beneficial ownership requirements.
The type of companies that are required to submit their BO are, companies limited by shares, companies limited by guarantee, unlimited companies, external companies.
“Where a person fails to provide the information required or gives false and misleading information, it will be deemed as an offence liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than 50 penalty units and not more than 250 penalty units. Such persons can also face imprisonment for not less than one year and not more than two years or even both fines and imprisonment.
Where a company defaults in complying, it will also be liable to pay an administrative penalty of 25 penalty units for each day beginning from the first day the offence was committed. In monetary value, 25 penalty units is equivalent to GH¢30.”
Jemima Oware, Register-General