The Attorney General has begun collecting details of investors who own more than 10% stakes in companies through secret accounts in efforts to unmask illicit wealth. This includes names, phone numbers and residential addresses.
This is meant to be done on a new online portal set up by the State Law Office to host beneficial ownership registers. This will help in showing the ultimate owners of both private and public companies.
It will now be mandatory for new firms operating in the country to fill the beneficial ownership registers ahead of registration. Exiting companies will next month be offered a deadline when they will be expected to update their shareholder records.
According to the Registrar of Companies, the electronic register fo filling data on beneficial owners started work on October 13th. The records will then be made available to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), security agencies and the Financial Reporting Centre, that is tasked with tracking illicit wealth.
These new rules are apparently aimed at curbing insider trading. This is alongside shading light on market activity by restricting the use of nominee accounts that investors have been using to evade ownership limits in firms listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange.
Money laundering is another crime that the government aims to curb. This would be done by revealing the true identities of investors owning large blocks of shares in both private and listed companies.
“A company shall take reasonable steps to identify the beneficial owners,” says Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki through the regulations. “It is the companies’ duty to investigate and obtain beneficial owner particulars.”