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Changing the game: New global programme to curb extractive industry corruption

A new cross-sector partnership between the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and Open Ownership (OO), supported by the BHP Foundation, aims to end the use of anonymous companies linked to corruption and mismanagement in the extractive sector.

The EITI and Open Ownership today launched Opening Extractives, a global programme to advance beneficial ownership transparency. It aims to make a dramatic and sustainable difference to the level of publicly available information on the individuals who own and control extractive companies.

Anonymous companies remain a major obstacle in the fight against money laundering and corruption. They enable corrupt and criminal actors, often with close political connections, to hide behind chains of companies registered in multiple jurisdictions.

A recent study using data from Colombia highlighted the value of this data. Publishing details of company ownership enables effective taxation and brings data to light that can be used to identify and address corruption. It can help build fairer markets, encourage responsible investment and manage business risk.

The project will be partly funded by the BHP Foundation and delivered by the EITI International Secretariat and Open Ownership.

Opening Extractives will ultimately improve the quality of life of millions of people in resource-rich countries,” said James Ensor, BHP Foundation Chief Executive Officer and President. “Natural resources are ultimately owned by the citizens of every country in which the resources industry operates. Beneficial ownership transparency is critical to ensuring the revenues generated by the natural resources industry provide maximum benefit to every single citizen. But to be successful it requires governments, industry and civil society to work together – which is why this initiative is so important”.

Thom Townsend, Executive Director of Open Ownership, said: “We are at a tipping point to move from commitments to the implementation of beneficial ownership transparency, and Opening Extractives will accelerate progress. Anonymous companies are the getaway vehicle of choice for stolen public money, and beneficial ownership transparency is the most effective way to close this down. The Luanda Leaks were a powerful reminder of how some resource-rich countries have suffered and how public information can thwart corrupt activity.” 

Opening Extractives builds on the collaboration of OO and the EITI over the last three years in delivering workshops, training and technical assistance in a broad range of countries. The programme draws on recent research undertaken by OO and the EITI.

“I am confident that this unique partnership is a recipe for delivering a step change in natural resource governance,” said Mark Robinson, EITI Executive Director. “The project will seek to mobilise political and stakeholder commitment and build the technical capability required to publish and use complex data. It has the potential to scale beyond the extractive sector and beyond the programme’s initial group of focus countries.”