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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

Open Government Partnership