We are approaching EITI Opening Up Ownership Conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, on 23-24 October. This is the first global conference on beneficial ownership disclosure practice. The EITI is co-organising the conference with the Government of Indonesia. The opening plenary will take place at the Presidential Palace. The Conference aims to bring together government representatives working on beneficial ownership reform to showcase best practices so far, discuss challenges, provide peer learning and exchange of experiences.
Don't know what beneficial ownership means? Take a look at this video.
Who, why and how
The audience of 300 will mainly be high-level government and industry representatives from EITI implementing countries working on beneficial ownership issues. Live streaming will be available for the plenary sessions of the Conference. Most of the Conference will be run as a series of smaller parallel workshops, with a practical focus on specific topics. Day one will focus mostly on the why, whilst day two will focus on the how.
The EITI Standard requires that companies that “bid for, operate or invest in extractive assets” should publicly disclose the identity of their beneficial owners. Over the past year, more than 50 EITI countries have published their plans for how to disclose the real owners of companies in their extractive sector by January 2020. This conference will catalyse action on beneficial ownership transparency.
Workshops will include:
Hidden ownership and illicit financial flows: It has been estimated that developing countries lose USD 1 trillion each year as a result of corrupt or illegal deals, many of which involve anonymous companies. In some cases, the tax authorities might not have sufficient, reliable information to be able to easily identify risks of tax evasion and enforce tax liabilities. This session will focus on how beneficial ownership reporting can help improve tax collection and prevent illicit financial flows from countries with significant extractive resources.
Emerging beneficial ownership standards and commitments: FATF, OECD Global Forum, EU: Various global and regional efforts to improve collection, sharing and disclosure of beneficial ownership information across jurisdictions. These include Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. The European Union is also making progress, with the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive setting a common standard for beneficial registers in the EU and ongoing efforts to establish a central register.
Publicly listed companies and shareholding disclosure: Many of the extractives companies operating in resource-rich countries are publicly listed on stock exchanges. The EITI Standard requires that publicly listed companies are required to disclose the name of the stock exchange and include a link to the stock exchange filings where they are listed. However, for publicly listed companies, there may be several beneficiaries that constantly change and it may not be clear who ultimately controls or benefits from a company’s activities. Stock exchanges may also have different disclosure requirements. Another challenge is how to disclose ownership of trusts. This session will explore disclosure of shareholders and beneficial owners of publicly listed companies.
These are a few examples from a diverse and in-depth program. The International Secretariat is finalizing the programme in the coming days. To get updates on the conference, keep an eye on the EITI website and conference app.