By Chino S. Leyco
The Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI) said yesterday that it has required the reporting of beneficial owners of mining, oil and gas companies operating in the Philippines.
In a statement, Finance Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresa Habitan said the disclosure of beneficial owners is necessary to counter or prevent the use of anonymous shell companies to hide or launder money and conceal potential conflicts of interest within the extractive sector.
“Beneficial ownership disclosure in the country is an enormous task, but we appreciate its value in curbing illicit financial activities. We are glad that the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] is with us in this undertaking,” Habitan said.
Earlier, SEC issued Memorandum Circular No. 15-2019 requiring corporations to declare annually their beneficial owners as part of the general information sheet (GIS).
The revised GIS form asks for nine categories of beneficial owners and their information, including complete name, residential address, nationality, tax identification number, and percentage of ownership or voting rights.
The SEC issuance defines beneficial owners as “the natural persons who ultimately own or control or exercise ultimate effective control over a corporation.” It was approved as a policy measure to assist in the anti-money laundering efforts of government.
The PH-EITI, the government’s transparency initiative for the extractive sector under the Department of Finance, held yesterday a workshop where more than 40 companies from the mining, oil and gas sectors participated.
The workshop, which was co-organized by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), centered on the new requirement for the declaration of beneficial owners as part of the GIS.
Ronald Recidoro, COMP executive director noted there is a global shift towards increased disclosure of beneficial owners, and the chamber is committed to taking a lead role in this direction through the PH-EITI.
“We see the benefits of increased transparency in beneficial ownership — it enhances confidence in our local companies, thereby helping improve the investment climate,” Recidoro said.
“More importantly, it can help prevent corruption and illicit financial flows, and can increase trust and accountability in the mining sector,” he added.
Officials of the Enforcement and Investor Protection Department of the SEC facilitated and provided technical expertise in the workshop, which sought to assist the extractive companies to comply with the beneficial ownership disclosure requirements of both SEC and PH-EITI.