Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 14th 2016 Contents BG16 COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JANUARY 14 • 2016
The T&T EITI Steering Committee is poised to
publish the country s first oil and gas beneficial
ownership register by April 2016. A beneficial
owner is the actual "person" with controlling
interests in any company that exploits the nation s
oil and gas resources. T&T will be the second
country in the Latin American and Caribbean region, after Hon-
duras, to make this information publicly available.
The EITI 2013 Standard recommended that implementing
countries disclose the beneficial owners of oil, gas and mining
companies operating in EITI participating countries. That move
by the EITI followed a global trend set by international pol-
icymaking bodies, with the G8 and G20 countries having
adopted high level principles on beneficial ownership in Brisbane,
Australia, in 2014 and the European Parliament and the Council
of the European Union having recently reached an agreement
on the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive.
The United Kingdom, the United States, Denmark, Norway
and Ukraine also declared their commitment in the establishment
of a public register of beneficial owners.
Who exactly are these beneficial owners?
The steering committee was guided by relevant clauses in
T&T Companies Act and the Integrity in Public Life Act in
developing a definition of beneficial ownership to suit our local
Beneficial ownership was defined as, "the natural person
who is directly or indirectly the owner of a company or controls
at least ten percent of the shares or total votes and exclude
persons acting as a nominee, intermediary, custodian or agent
on behalf of another person. Politically exposed persons (PEPs),
who otherwise benefit financially from the company, are also
considered to be beneficial owners".
The steering committee also sought guidance from the coun-
try s existing laws to define a PEP. The committee adopted
and added to the definition provided by the financial intelligence
unit of the Ministry of Finance Guidance Note AML/CFT Pro-
cedures for Politically Exposed Persons and agreed to define
a PEP as "an individual who is or has been entrusted with a
prominent political function. These include foreign and local
political figures and extend to their immediate family members
and close associates."
The establishment of a public register is just one of the steps
that T&T will take towards countering any perception of corrupt
practices in the extractive industries of the country.
The committee aims to work together with stakeholders---
including the University of the West Indies legal unit---to deter-
mine if the country needs a standalone beneficial ownership
legislation, or if a recommendation should be made to add an
addendum to existing legislation, namely the Companies Act
and the Integrity in Public Life Act.
This is a dilemma faced by other EITI implementing countries
because the lack of supporting legislation was one of the prob-
lems experienced by countries participating in the pilot project
on beneficial ownership. Therefore, T&T will be one of other
EITI countries---including Zambia and Niger---that is considering
Updating legislation will also help solve another challenge
experienced during the pilot project; that of lack of proper
verification of data because many countries cited have no sys-
tem/procedures in place to verify whether the information dis-
closed is credible and trustworthy.
In lieu of legislation, the committee included a section in
the beneficial ownership template sent to all EITI reporting
companies, requesting that senior management attest to the
accuracy of the information submitted.
The beneficial ownership project is another step taken by
the country to advance its promotion of transparency, account-
ability and good corporate governance by disclosing the "real"
owners of companies that develop the extractive resources (oil,
gas and mining) which belong to all citizens. Greater transparency
will contribute towards the development and enhancement of
a sound business climate that encourages greater local and
foreign direct investment and helps in building trust between
government, companies, the public and civil society.
For more information on the subject, please contact Vanita
Redoy, policy analyst at email@example.com and for more
information on the TTEITI visit www.tteiti.org.tt
The committee will be hosting Dr Francisco Paris, regional di-
rector for Latin America and Caribbean, EITI Secretariat during
the period of January 18-20, 2016. Dr Paris will be in Trinidad for
the Energy Conference and will be engaging in high level meet-
ings with MEEI officials, industry representatives and local civil
society organisation leaders.
EITI to publish ownership register
The EITI Board agreed to launch a Beneficial Owner-
ship Pilot Project in 2013. Being one of the most innova-
tive implementers of the EITI Standard regionally since
becoming a candidate country in 2011, Trinidad and To-
bago agreed to be one of the twelve countries participat-
ing in the pilot programme. However, due to several
resources and capacity constraints, the TTEITI Steering
Committee was unable to oversee the pilot project to
In 2016, T&T will join several other EITI implementing
countries in making publicly available an online register
that lists the names of those who benefit financially
through the ownership of major extractive companies.
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