Transparency watchdog Global Witness recently published a 30-page breakdown of 25 foreign and domestic oil and gas companies operating in Myanmar that have—upon being solicited by the group—published full or partial information about their “ultimate beneficial ownership,” which has been defined as the individual person or persons “right at the very top of the chain.”
This newly disclosed corporate ownership data has prompted one international advocacy group to label Myanmar as a “world leader” in transparency and urge the government to maintain pressure on industry stakeholders as the country moves toward achieving global standards.
“This is a global first in one of the places you might least expect it,” Global Witness analyst Juman Kubba said in a statement. All over the world, corrupt politicians and crooked businessmen hide behind secret companies to steal oil, gas and mineral wealth. If Myanmar is to turn the page on a history of cronyism and corruption linked to natural resources, it has to crack this problem. While the disclosure is viewed by most stakeholders as a step in the right direction, some analysts argue that proclaiming the nation as a success story and a potential precedent may be premature, speaking more to the inadequate state of global transparency than to Myanmar’s accomplishments.
The Global Witness report focused specifically on gas and oil companies freshly permitted to work in Myanmar, and does not yet examine the transparency of any other sector, which some suggest could offer misleading conclusions about investment and industry in Myanmar on the whole.