Illicit Flows

Uganda needs central corporate register to improve ownership transparency

By David Whitehouse

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Posted on May 17, 2022 04:00

A woman shops at a grocery store in Hoima
Uganda’s tax system leans too heavily on indirect taxes born by families, critics say. REUTERS/James Akena

A central corporate register of beneficial ownership would improve transparency in Uganda and help put public finances on firmer footing, a new report says.

Lack of clarity over corporate ownership is a contributing factor in the annual $550m of illicit financial flows in the Ugandan economy, according to the report from Global Financial Integrity (GFI) and Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE).

Beneficial ownership (BO) transparency is being increasingly used globally to curb the use of anonymous companies to hide financial flows. But there is no central legal requirement to collect BO information for either companies created in Uganda, or foreign companies registered there. This handicaps the Ugandan government’s ability to track criminal actors and recover tax revenue, the report says.

A registry of corporate beneficial ownership in Uganda could be a step forward if successfully implemented, says Mark Bohlund, senior analyst at REDD Intelligence in London. “While businesses generally don’t like to be taxed, such a

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