Agencies look to beneficial ownership data  to curb corruption in procurement process

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has teamed up with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Open Ownership (OO) to harness the potential of using beneficial ownership data in curbing corruption in the government procurement process.

On August 31, the SEC and UNODC organized a focus group discussion (FGD) on Beneficial Ownership Data Use in Public Procurement. Participants included officers from the Philippine Competition Representatives, Office of the President, Office of the Ombudsman, Philippine Government     Electronic     Procurement     System, Procurement Policy Board Technical Support Office (GPPB-TSO).

The discussions mainly focused on the application of beneficial ownership on public procurement, emphasizing the importance of data in mitigating corruption and improving the decision-making process of the procurement lifecycle.

A beneficial owner is a natural person who ultimately owns or exercises ultimate effective control over a corporation. This is different from legal owners as beneficial owners may directly or indirectly have the power to vote or influence transaction decisions of the company, even without them being reported as a stockholder, member, director, or officer.

The SEC requires the declaration of beneficial owners in the General Information Sheet through SEC Memorandum Circular No. 15, Series of 2019.

“Beneficial ownership plays an important role in detecting indicators of bid rigging and conflicts of interest during the procurement process,” Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino said.

“As such, it is important that we ensure there are few avenues for corrupt individuals to take advantage of the system,” he added.   

In 2022, the SEC signed a data sharing agreement with the GPPB-TSO as part of its commitment to enhance public procurement and beneficial ownership transparency.

The FGD is part of a week-long collaboration and workshop on raising awareness and sharing knowledge of beneficial ownership, as well as fostering international cooperation among law enforcement agencies and strengthening the investigation process.