Liberians Urged To Champion Fight Against Corruption As Country Nears Developing Beneficial Ownership Register
As Liberia draws closer to developing a beneficial ownership register, a call has been made for Liberians to remain engaged in the global fight against corruption, fraud, money laundering, illicit financial flow, and tax evasion.
Speaking at a one-day technical consultation with data collectors, data providers, and data users in Monrovia, the Head of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), Jeffrey N. Yates, extolled stakeholders for the rapid progress the Country is making since joining the Opening Extractive Program in 2021, especially towards the development of a beneficial ownership register for the Country.
He stressed the need for Liberia to remain on track as the Country nears the completion of the BO register. "We have made significant progress as a country in a relatively short period. Our progress points to developing a draft regulation we are here today to test with data users, collectors, and providers. After this exercise, the regulation will be finalized and published through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia." Mr. Yates noted.
He revealed that developing countries lose about 1.26 trillion dollars yearly to corruption, bribery, theft, illicit financial flow, and tax evasion, citing a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) 2021 report. "This is a huge loss, the Head of the Secretariat noted. Imagine how this amount can tackle poverty across Africa. This should push us enough to continue fighting corruption, illicit financial flow, money laundering, tax evasion, and fraud across this continent. We can play our part in Liberia by tightening the screws on our weak links." He challenged participants.
Earlier, Emma Howard of Open Data, who is serving as a technical consultant to the Opening Extractive Program, expressed satisfaction over Liberia's progress and admonished Liberians to keep the fight until a complete BO register is developed.
According to her, Liberia's current acceleration has placed it far ahead of most countries implementing BO regimes. She extolled Liberians for the unity the relevant stakeholders are exhibiting in the execution of the roadmap for BO register development in Liberia.
The one-day gathering brought together participants from the media and civil society actors, companies, and government agencies.
The sessions were conducted by Favour Ime, Open Ownership's Manager for Africa and the Middle East.
Liberia joined and launched the Opening Extractive Program in 2021 with a strong commitment from the Liberian Government for the scrupulous implementation of the five-year program to see the Country fully develop a beneficial ownership regime. The Government then constituted a national steering committee of relevant stakeholders, including the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), the Financial Intelligent Agency (FIA), the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Liberia Petroleum Regulatory Authority, and the Liberia Business Registry (LBR) to lead the process.
Over the past 15 months, the Country has gone from drafting a scoping study on BO development in the Country to creating public awareness and stakeholder engagements to developing a draft regulation along with forms that are now going through the final stages of finalization for passage.
According to the Head of the LEITI, the regulation is expected to be published in late March 2023 to give rise to the development of a full BO register for Liberia.