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Business Under Scrutiny: The Cost of Secrecy

As many of the recent corporate scandals have shown, acts of corruption are very often aided by the use of opaque company structures and secrecy jurisdictions. But the use of offshore companies and their lack of transparency are posing increasing risks for global and local companies as well as for their shareholders, employees and local communities. Momentum around these issues is growing. The G20 countries have committed to undertake reforms aimed at enhancing transparency and preventing the misuse of legal entities, and are being called upon to require mandatory public disclosure of the ultimate owners of companies.

Companies can mitigate the risks posed by lack of transparency and ownership arrangements by shedding more light on their corporate structures and by making basic financial information public on a country-by-country basis. This allows stakeholders to have a clearer understanding of the extent of a company’s operations and makes the company more accountable for its activities in a given country, including assessing whether it contributes financially in a manner appropriate to its level of activity. Corruption Watch believes that comprehensive public reporting is a key component of the measures companies must take to address corruption and provide the transparency that is the basis for robust and accountable governance. 
Corruption Watch has been conducting research for a South African Transparency in Reporting on Anti-Corruption (TRAC), in collaboration with Transparency International. The research focusses on three key areas of reporting: Reporting on anti-corruption programmes, Organisational transparency, Country-by-country reporting

The study assesses the transparency of corporate reporting by the South Africa’s 37 top publicly listed companies in terms of market cap, drawn from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). In order to compare across different regulatory environments, this selection was supplemented with a selection of 13 unlisted entities. The report is based on data collected or made available between November 2015 and March 2016. The report is currently being finalised, with the results indicating that there is uneven reporting of anti-corruption programmes and organisational transparency from publically listed companies and no reporting from unlisted companies, a result which is not surprising given the regulatory frameworks that apply to listed companies.



David Lewis,  Executive Dorector, Corruption Watch

Donna Oosthuyse, Director of Capital Markets at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange

Vuyo Kahla, Executive Vice President of Advisory and Assurance and Company Secretary at SASOL


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