Beneficial ownership regional workshop in Manila

Improving beneficial ownership transparency in the Asia and Pacific region is key to addressing corruption risks in the extractive sector, improving business climate, avoiding conflicts of interests for politically exposed persons, and preventing the use of shell companies from perpetrating illicit financial flows, money laundering and bribery. According to the 2016 EITI Standard, EITI countries are required to ensure that by 1 January 2020, companies that have participating interests in extractive assets in their country should disclose beneficial ownership information. This includes the name, nationality, and country of residence of natural persons who ultimately own these companies.

The approaching deadline for these disclosures highlights the need for greater cross-sectoral, cross-jurisdictional collaboration between government agencies tasked to implement beneficial ownership reforms. The Beneficial Ownership regional learning program is intended to cater to demands from countries in the region and ADB staff for more skills development in furthering the work on company ownership transparency. It serves as a follow-up to the EITI Global Beneficial Ownership Conference organized by the EITI in Jakarta in 2017, the Beneficial Ownership Asia Regional event in Tbilisi, Georgia in August 2018 and the South East Asia regional event in Jakarta in November 2018. This is likewise part of a series of regional workshops conducted by the EITI to build the capacity of beneficial ownership practitioners in implementing countries.

Countries in the Asia and Pacific region have made varying degrees of progress in beneficial ownership disclosures. Indonesia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Myanmar are in the preliminary stages of creating beneficial ownership registers, at the national or sectoral level. Other countries are collecting information either as part of the EITI process or on an ad hoc basis.

In view of the current status of these countries’ implementation, stakeholders from those countries and ADB staff can benefit from peer learning and guidance from experts to understand considerations for an accurate definition of beneficial ownership, implementing data standards, verification procedures and meaningful use of data.

The objective of this workshop is to gather ADB staff, government officials, and investigative journalists from countries in Asia and the Pacific (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste and Uzbekistan) and to showcase best practices so far, discuss challenges, provide peer learning and exchange of experiences. The workshop co-organized in partnership with the Governance Thematic Group of the Asian Development Bank, the ADB Institute, the Department for International Development (DFID) and the EITI International Secretariat.