Read more about how services Michael has offered by clicking on the headings below.
Michael was a member part of a team of international and Azerbaijani consultants who delivered support to the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan to implement a beneficial ownership disclosure roadmap. The project was funded by the Asian Development Bank and included:
- An inception visit and report,
- Analysis of international good practice using six comparator countries and international standards such as FATF and EITI,
- A definition of beneficial ownership,
- The mechanism required for implementation, administration and verification,
- Legal review,
- Draft implementing legislation,
- A public consultation process,
- Awareness raising activities including producing an explanatory video.
Michael and the team delivered the project through a combination of permanent on the ground presence, carefully planned field visits and remote working. The result was the delivery of package for the implementation of a beneficial ownership reporting and disclosure regime that had buy in from all key stakeholders including government, industry and civil society.
Michael was a member part of a team of international and Ghanaian consultants delivering economy-wide beneficial ownership transparency in Ghana, funded by the British government. Ghana amended its Companies Act to implement a public beneficial ownership register as part of efforts to enhance trust in its business environment. The Registrar-General requested technical assistance with implementing the provisions.
- A review of the new Companies Act legislation to assess areas to be included in regulations and guidance
- Drafting of regulations and guidance for approval by the Registrar General
- Design of reporting templates and detailed instructions for completion
- Advice on a phased roll-out of the beneficial ownership reporting regime
- Advice on methods of verification of beneficial ownership data
- Workshops and training for a range of stakeholders
- Technical input to the scripting of informational videos on the fundamentals of beneficial ownership
This was successfully delivered throughout the COVID-19 restrictions by a combination of local face-to-face engagement and remote working. Michael and the team have assisted in moving the process in Ghana forward to the point where beneficial ownership forms have been issued, and data is being collected.
Michael, in collaboration with another consultant, conducted a human rights due diligence assessment for a major infrastructure project in Israel and the OPT to allow the leadership of major European engineering company to make fully informed decision on whether to bid for a controversial project. The project had a long history of controversy and attracted legal action and boycotts.
Michael undertook desk top research, interviews with a range of stakeholders and conducted a field visit to Israel, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Interviewees included representatives of the client company, the Israeli government, foreign diplomats, the Palestinian Authority and both Israeli and Palestinian civil society.
Michael and his colleague produced a detailed report which described the human rights context for the project, provided a comprehensive assessment of the project’s potential human rights impacts and set out the actions that the client would have to take to avoid any potential complicity in human rights abuses. The client along with several other international companies that were considering bidding for the project decided against bidding, citing human rights concerns.
Michael provided leadership in political risk analysis, government relations and stakeholder management for the Gaza Marine project, one of the most politically controversial upstream oil and gas projects. The project involves developing gas reserves offshore the Gaza Strip and marketing the natural gas to regional markets including Israel. Agreement between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority is a necessary prerequisite for the project to go ahead. Michael implemented a government relations strategy in support of negotiations with both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority as well as liaison with other stakeholders including the British and US governments and the Office of the Quartet Representative.
Michael has considerable experience of government relations and stakeholder management for country entry in both the Middle East and South East Asia. He was a member of the leadership team that established BG Group’s presence in Oman. This included undertaking political risk analysis, writing the Board paper seeking approval for country entry and establishing BG’s presence in country including positioning the company as a preferred partner.
He was also a member of the project team for Myanmar country entry. He was a member of the BG delegation that first visited the country, managed the government relations strategy to position BG as a responsible investor through the successful bid for four offshore blocks.
Michael co-ordinated an industry study into energy subsidies in Egypt in 2003-04. A group of nine international oil and gas companies funded the study by an external consultant. Energy subsidies lie at the heart of the issue of outstanding government debts to international oil and gas companies for natural gas sales. The study analysed the issue, provided case studies of countries that had successfully dismantled energy subsidy regimes and provided recommendations to the government. The government welcomed the study and started a dialogue at ministerial level on how to implement the recommendations. Energy subsidies remain a politically controversial issue in Egypt and continue to tarnish the country’s reputation as an investment destination. While the Egyptian government remains committed to addressing energy subsidies, other priorities have prevented substantive action.
In Thailand, Michael succeeded in getting the issue of extractive industry transparency on the policy agenda as part of the solution to overcoming deep-seated public distrust of the oil and gas sector. International oil and gas companies faced considerable difficulties in getting the government to take decisive action on a number of key issues. Holding the government back was concern about the political capital the opposition would make from the decisions despite resolution of the issues being in the long term economic interest of the country. Candidacy of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) was promoted through the industry association including a keynote speech by EITI’s secretary-general and a major industry event. EITI candidacy was included in an energy manifesto issued by a former energy minister shortly after the May 2014 coup and is now part of the dialogue on reform of the sector in Thailand.