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Official News

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Government to expand the process of identifying real owners

A workshop, referred to as “Transparency of Real Owners,” was held today in Yerevan, attended by RA Minister of Justice Rustam Badasyan, Deputy Chief of Prime Minister’s Staff Liana Chaltalkchyan, Open Government Partnership CEO Sanjay Pradhan, representatives from the Government of Armenia, international organizations, and civil society.

Rustam Badasyan thanked the Open Government Partnership, USAID and the Transparency International Anticorruption Center for hosting the event. He went on to note that in recent years several governments across the globe have acknowledged the need for easy access to information about real owners in the fight against tax avoidance, money laundering and corruption.

“The Armenian authorities today, more than ever, are committed to the obligations assumed under the OGP and stand ready to endeavor towards disclosing information about real owners,” Rustam Badasyan said.

Deputy Chief of Prime Minister’s Staff Liana Ghaltakhchyan noted that the Government is committed to providing for transparent and accountable governance, imparting information on the activities of government agencies, promoting people’s participation in public life.

“These goals have been set out in various policy documents, first and foremost in the government program, and the Government has strong political will to implement them. Both in the government program and under the forth Open Government Partnership Initiative Action Plan, as approved by the Government in 2018, the Government has undertaken ambitious reforms, including legislative changes in key areas. One of these ambitious commitments is the process of exposing real owners,” Liana Ghaltakhchyan said.

According to the Deputy Chief of Prime Minister’s Staff, together with 14 other governments, Armenia has joined the Open Owners Leadership Team within the OGP framework to form the Global Real Owners Discovery Platform.

“By joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in March, 2017, Armenia undertook to publish, as of January 2020, the public register of real owners of metal mining companies. To meet this commitment, a legal analysis was carried out, and efforts were made to develop a system of exposure of real owners in a multi-beneficiary format. And in April, 2018, the National Assembly adopted a set of laws defining the process and scope of the exposure of real owners. This built up a legislative groundwork for the discovery of real owners.

I would also like to point out that recently the Government approved a bill revising the mechanisms for publicly-owned legal entities to make publicly available information in the unified state register abolishing the statutory duty to pay for media and public interest freedom of reliable and complete information on issues,” Liana Ghaltakhchyan said.

She advised that the Government will gradually step up the process of identifying real owners of publicly owned legal entities and engineering a commonly accessible platform for storage of information about real owners, which should imply transparency of data so collected.

Highlighting the importance of conducting a workshop on this topic in Armenia, Executive Director of the Open Government Partnership Sanjay Pradhan noted that Armenia is viewed as a bright spot for democracy within OGP member states, and Armenia’s non-violent velvet revolution came as a universal inspiration for all. He emphasized that at this point the Government is set to turn the democratic revolution into an economic revolution. In this context, Sanjay Pradhan emphasized the importance of identifying real owners as a primary tool in the fight against corruption.

“Today, in countries where this information is open, democratic elections are being held, citizens trust their government and their public authorities. The process of exposing the real owners may increase citizens’ trust in the Government and promote an effective fight against corruption. This is a crucial process for business as well,” Sanjay Pradhan said, describing as fictitious the approach that the process of exposure of real owners can damage the investment environment. “Our experience demonstrates the opposite: it provides a level playing field for new players and an opportunity for new investments,” the OGP CEO concluded.

February 2020