Editorial : RGD gets tough with ‘central beneficial ownership’ agents…

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Jemima Oware, Register-General

The Registrar-General’s Department (RGD) has sent a chilling warning to all who act as fronts for foreigners doing business in the country, saying they will be fished out and prosecuted.

According to the RGD, this is in line with the new Companies Act now in force.

The new Companies Act 2019 (Act 992) has given way for the compilation of a Central Beneficial Ownership (CBO) register that is meant to identify the natural persons who exercise significant influence over a company, and benefits from it, but are not legal owners.

Clear sanctions have been outlined for persons who are found to have been dishonest in the provision of names for all persons who have influence and profit from the operations of a company, or persons who put up their names as the owner of a business but are not – a move that allows foreigners to avoid or evade payment of the right levies, thereby denying the state needed revenue.

They do this because they want to avoid paying taxes, or the duties that are linked to the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) law – wherein you have a trading object and the capital on it is around US$1million.

The RGD will be conducting some sensitisation programmes at major central business districts across the country in a bid to educate Ghanaian traders on the sanctions to deter them from engaging in such acts. The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has had cause to complain about foreigners unlawfully engaging in trading activities reserved for locals.

There is also the issue of foreigners fishing in Ghanaian territorial waters using vessels registered by Ghanaians, but which are actually loaned to Chinese fishermen for a fee (US$1000). We believe the CBO will be instrumental in identifying these Ghanaian fraudsters and their foreign collaborators.

We find it odd that revenue due the state by way of levies and duties is withheld with the active connivance of locals whose only concern is what derives to them personally. It appears the RDG has identified this loophole in the country’s company registration law and inserted a clause to deal with the anomaly.

We are pleased that this problem is being addressed by the new Companies’ Act, and we should see a minimisation of people who front and help foreigners deprive the state of requisite revenue.

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