Last year, the global transparency initiative which promotes good governance of natural resources – the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) – agreed to make beneficial ownership transparency an obligation on all 51 member countries. This is a huge step forward towards shining a light on who owns and controls companies that exploit our natural resources so that they can no longer be used against the public good.
Anonymous or secret company ownership structures are routinely used across the world to hide illicit activities such as tax evasion, money laundering and fraud from public scrutiny and law enforcement.
Global Witness’ work in Myanmar demonstrates why greater company ownership transparency is needed. Our 2014 report The Shell Starts to Crack raised concerns that secrecy surrounding company ownership could result in money being lost to corruption. In this report, 25 oil and gas companies set a global precedent by publishing who their real owners were. Our 2015 exposés of the jade industry – Jade: Myanmar’s ‘Big State Secret’ and Lords of Jade – provide vivid and disturbing illustrations of how military hardliners and drug lords are using hidden company ownership to loot the country’s most valuable natural resource.
Myanmar now has the opportunity to create long-lasting transparency by bringing into force the new EITI beneficial ownership rules. This joint briefing with NRGI sets out seven steps the Myanmar EITI (MEITI) needs to take to make this process as effective as possible in increasing accountability and tackling corruption.
Photo credit: Minzayar
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