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Liberia

Beneficial Ownership Registry (LR0035)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Liberia Action Plan 2017-2019

Action Plan Cycle: 2017

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: LACC

Support Institution(s): FIU, LEITI, FDA, GC, LISGIS, PPCC, Liberia Business Registry, LRA, iLab Liberia, iCampus, CENTAL, CEMESP, CAPDOG

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Anti-Corruption, Beneficial Ownership, Capacity Building, Fiscal Openness, Open Data, Private Sector, Public Participation, Tax

IRM Review

IRM Report: Liberia Implementation Report 2017-2019, Liberia Design Report 2017-2019

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?: Anonymous companies (companies of which the real owners are unknown) allow for corruption, tax avoidance, money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorist financing. This denies the Liberian government and people revenue that could be used to improve public services.; What is the commitment?: The commitment will develop a public register for beneficial ownership information. The development of the register will be instituted through implementing rules and procedures using open data standards.; How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?: A public register showing who owns and controls overseas companies will deter the corrupt from using these as safe havens to invest their criminal proceeds. In doing so, it will signal the beginning of the end for a system of secrecy that facilitates and entrenches the corruption in Liberia.; Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?: Beneficial ownership information is at the heart of the OGP- as it relates to the transparency of information that allows citizens to monitor the use of public and private resources.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

IRM End of Term Status Summary

9. Institute a Beneficial Ownership Registry

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

"The commitment will develop a public register for beneficial ownership information. The development of the register will be instituted through implementing rules and procedures using open data standards.

A public register showing who owns and controls overseas companies will deter the corrupt from using these as safe havens to invest their criminal proceeds. In doing so, it will signal the beginning of the end for a system of secrecy that facilitates and entrenches the corruption in Liberia."

Milestones:

  1. Commence consultations and workshops around the issue of beneficial ownership;
  2. Sign Liberia up to the Open Ownership Global Register;
  3. Constitute a coordinating committee to establish clear rules on beneficial ownership in Liberia;
  4. Begin the process of establishing an open register of beneficial ownership for all companies operating in Liberia per international open data standards;
  5. Awareness raising and capacity building on beneficial ownership for public officials, civil society and investigative journalists.

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Liberia's action plan at: https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/liberia-action-plan-2017-2019/

IRM Design Report Assessment

IRM Implementation Report Assessment

● Verifiable: Yes

● Relevant: Yes

Access to Information

Civic Participation

● Potential impact: Minor

Completion: Not Started

Did it Open Government? Did Not Change

This commitment aimed to develop a public register for beneficial ownership information using rules and procedures aligned with open data standards. This commitment addressed the need for better regulated and standardized reporting of beneficial ownership. Beneficial owners are natural persons who ultimately own or control a legal entity or arrangement. [95] Reporting of such ownership would increase transparency and reduce conflicts of interest within the government. [96]

At the time of this commitment's formulation, the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) had published its Beneficial Ownership Roadmap (2016). [97] It had also piloted a program on beneficial ownership disclosure in the natural resource sector. This pilot program had 55 percent compliance and revealed many issues. It highlighted the difficulty in obtaining accurate or sufficient public information on companies, poor cooperation from regulatory agencies, and poor government stewardship, and, therefore, minimal reporting from concessionaires. The passage of the New Petroleum Reform Law of Liberia (2014) required all bidding oil companies to declare their owners, [98] and there was international scrutiny of the Liberian International Shipping and Corporate Registry. [99]

This commitment was not started by the end of the action plan implementation period. Contributing factors included governing problems within LEITI and the Liberian Business Registry (LBR). [100] The LBR is the government agency with LEITI-related functional and legal mandates. In addition, Liberia's OGP multistakeholder forum approved the commitment without participation from LBR, whose management team was not appointed until 2018. [101] Notwithstanding, at dates beyond the scope of this commitment, LBR updated its website with forms required to register a business and an online application system. These features increased access to information and resources, especially for those beyond the Monrovia metropolitan area. [102]

As the commitment was not started, it did not change practices in relation to open government. If this commitment is continued in future action plans, the Liberian Business Registry's buy-in for beneficial ownership reforms will be essential for successful implementation.

[95] The Secretariat of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, and Inter-American Development Bank, A Beneficial Ownership Implementation Toolkit (Paris: OECD, 2019), https://www.oecd.org/tax/transparency/beneficial-ownership-toolkit.pdf.
[96] Independent Reporting Mechanism, Liberia Design Report 2017–2019 (Washington, DC: Open Government Partnership), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/liberia-design-report-2017-2019-for-public-comment/.
[97] "Liberia EITI Beneficial Ownership Roadmap," Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, December 2016, https://eiti.org/document/liberia-eiti-beneficial-ownership-roadmap.
[98] Global Witness, "Liberia Passes Historic Oil Law Requiring Companies to Publish Names of Their Owners," press release, 28 November 2016, https://www.globalwitness.org/en/press-releases/liberia-passes-historic-oil-law-requiring-companies-publish-names-their-owners/.
[99] George Turner, "Liberia: America's Outpost of Financial Secrecy," Finance Uncovered, 26 May 2016, https://www.financeuncovered.org/investigations/liberia-americas-outpost-financial-secrecy/.
[100] "Nyenkan Re-shuffled from LEITI to President's Office," Daily Observer, 16 September 2019, https://www.liberianobserver.com/news/nyenkan-re-shuffled-from-leiti-to-presidents-office/.
[101] Liberian Business Registry, https://lbr.gov.lr/.
[102] Momo Kparteh, "LBR Launches Online Platform in Monrovia," Liberia Business Registry, 3 July 2019, http://lbr.gov.lr/2019/07/03/lbr-launces-online-platform-in-monrovia-july-3-2019/.

Commitments

  1. Extend capacity and transparency of judicial system

    LR0039, 2020, Access to Justice

  2. Create public beneficial ownership register

    LR0037, 2020, Access to Information

  3. Publish budget information online

    LR0038, 2020, Aid

  4. Promote integrity within institutions and schools

    LR0040, 2020, Anti-Corruption

  5. Increase transparency and inclusivity of public contracts

    LR0041, 2020, Access to Information

  6. Train health professionals and open health data

    LR0042, 2020, Access to Information

  7. Make legislative process more transparent and participatory

    LR0043, 2020, E-Government

  8. Enhance compliance and transparency in tax system

    LR0044, 2020, E-Government

  9. Implement transparent SGBV roadmap

    LR0045, 2020, Access to Information

  10. Increase youth engagement in national policy

    LR0046, 2020, Marginalized Communities

  11. Monitor fulfillment of commitments

    LR0047, 2020, E-Government

  12. Publish latest health data

    LR0048, 2020, Access to Information

  13. Legislative Monitoring Database

    LR0027, 2017, E-Government

  14. Publication of Budget Documents

    LR0028, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  15. Freedom of Information (FOI) Act

    LR0029, 2017, Access to Information

  16. Citizen Monitoring for the Justice System

    LR0030, 2017, Access to Justice

  17. Feedback Mechanism to Build Accountability of the LNP

    LR0031, 2017, Access to Information

  18. Capacity Building for Integrity in Government

    LR0032, 2017, Anti-Corruption

  19. Transparency in the Land Authority

    LR0033, 2017, E-Government

  20. Accountability and Value for Money Through Open Contracting

    LR0034, 2017, Access to Information

  21. Beneficial Ownership Registry

    LR0035, 2017, Access to Information

  22. Open Data/Citizen Navigation Portal

    LR0036, 2017, Access to Information

  23. Starred commitment Commercial Land Use Rights Information

    LR0011, 2015, Capacity Building

  24. Open Aid Portal and Publication of Aid Data

    LR0012, 2015, Access to Information

  25. Link Financial Management System to Aid Management Platform

    LR0013, 2015, Aid

  26. Facilitate Tracking of EVD Funds

    LR0014, 2015, Access to Information

  27. Starred commitment Implementation of the New Jury Law

    LR0015, 2015, Public Participation

  28. Citzen Monitoring of Justice System

    LR0016, 2015,

  29. Civic Education and Citizen Engagement Around Offline Tools

    LR0017, 2015,

  30. Know Your Rights' Initiative

    LR0018, 2015, Justice

  31. Passage of Whistleblower Protection Act

    LR0019, 2015,

  32. Transparency Hubs

    LR0020, 2015, Public Participation

  33. Public Service Integrity

    LR0021, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  34. Citizen Feedback Platform.

    LR0022, 2015, E-Government

  35. e-Government

    LR0023, 2015, Capacity Building

  36. Public Expenditure Management Systems

    LR0024, 2015, Capacity Building

  37. Public Safety/ Law Enforecement Reform

    LR0025, 2015, E-Government

  38. Open Data Portal

    LR0026, 2015, Access to Information

  39. Appoint Public Information Officers (PIOs)

    LR0007, 2015, Capacity Building

  40. Popularize Freedom of Information (Foi) Law

    LR0008, 2015, Access to Information

  41. Expand Open Budget Initiative

    LR0009, 2015, Access to Information

  42. Public Information on Land and Natural Resource Reform

    LR0010, 2015, Anti-Corruption

  43. Increase Access to Public Information

    LR0001, 2013, Access to Information

  44. Open Budget Initiative

    LR0002, 2013, E-Government

  45. Extractive Industries Transparency

    LR0003, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  46. Citizens’ Participation and Dialogue

    LR0004, 2013, Public Participation

  47. Starred commitment Accountability and Integrity

    LR0005, 2013, Anti-Corruption

  48. Technology and Innovation

    LR0006, 2013, Access to Information

Open Government Partnership