UK Govt Will Not Oppose Territories Amendment

May 1, 2018

According to reports from the British media, Minister Sir Alan Duncan has just announced that the UK Government will not oppose an amendment which will require the Overseas Territories to introduce public ownership registers by the end of 2020.

“Britain’s government agreed on Tuesday to order its overseas territories to make secretive company ownership information public to try to tackle corruption and tax avoidance,” Reuters reported.

The Huffington Post UK’s report said, “Britain’s overseas territories will be forced to introduce public ownership registers after the government caved to backbench pressure on Tuesday.”

“Britain’s overseas territories will have to introduce public ownership registers, after a minister announced the government would support a backbench amendment designed to stem the global flow of dirty money,” reported the Guardian.

“Sir Alan Duncan, the foreign office minister, told the Commons that the Conservatives recognised ‘the majority view in this house’ and that the government would not oppose an amendment to the sanctions and anti-money laundering bill put down by the Labour MP Margaret Hodge and the Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell.

“The Hodge/Mitchell amendment requires the 14 overseas territories, including the financial centres of the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, to introduce public ownership registers by the end of 2020 or face having them imposed by the UK government.”

The Guardian also reported that Sir Alan Duncan said, “Her Majesty’s government is acutely conscious of the sensitivities about this in the overseas territories and the response it may provoke. I therefore today give the overseas territories the fullest possible assurance that we will work very closely with them in shaping and implementing the order of council that this act of parliament might require.

“To that end, we will offer them the fullest possible legal and logistical support that they might ask of us. We retain our fullest respect for the overseas territories and their constitutional rights and we will work with them to protect their interests.”

When a similar matter was withdrawn in UK Parliament last year, the Bermuda Government said at that time, “Bermuda is the only country known to have an up-to-date register detailing the ultimate owners of its registered companies, maintained for more than 70 years. Local officials provide the information to authorities of other governments by request.

“The call in Britain is for every country to have such a register, but that it be open to the public. Bermuda is willing to conform, but only if it becomes the world standard. As the only jurisdiction with a long-standing up-to-date list, it would be disadvantageous for Bermuda to be forced to make its register public, before other jurisdictions comply.”

The matter of imposing a public beneficial register has been discussed for some time, see past coverage here, with the Bermuda Government generally pointing out that the island does maintain a register of beneficial owners and provides the information at request.

This has just been announced, and we will update with reactions/comments as able.

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Comments (13)

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  1. jeremy deacon says:

    19 MPs pushed for these amendments. Question: does Bermuda use a lobbying firm? If so, what was it doing?

    • Ok says:

      Aren’t you the journo?

    • Clem says:

      This was done to keep the EU happy. It would not have looked good during Brexit negotiations. Secondly, the times have changed. Lobbying for the ‘Bermuda Standard’ is like trying to get the embargo lifted for Southern Rhodesia. It is simply immoral.

    • nerema says:

      Burt went over there and lobbied. At that point it seems to have gone off the rails. Something that never happened while Bob Richards was making our case.

      • CLEM says:

        In fairness to Premier Burt, he did a good job, but this is like trying to stop an incoming Nova Scotia tide. At some point you have to realise you will be swamped if you do not move on. The times are changing.

  2. NCM says:

    Tell the Brits that if they show us theirs, we will show them ours. We can’t have a double standard where we are forced to make our register public and the Brits and Europeans don’t. The UK, after all, is well known as a haven for allegedly dirty Russian money. Stand firm. Don’t give in. Fight them all the way and use their offer of legal assistance to do it.

    • Truth is killin’ me... says:

      The UK showed their public ownership registers in 2016. Now they want everyone to show theirs. Keep up now!

      • nerema says:

        The UK register is a sham. Tens of thousands of the entries are patently false. The UK register is not ‘fit for purpose’ as they love saying over there. It’s not the equivalent at all.
        And it has exemptions. It doesn’t apply to companies that own real estate, for example.

  3. nerema says:

    This is what happens when we elect inexperienced people to go over and make the case for Bermuda. The blame for this failure is all on Burt.

  4. Channel Isalnds and IoM says:

    Honestly–the Crown Dependencies skate on this one?

    Thankfully Bermuda does have a legitmate register regime in place–but how can the UK enforce this on the OTs and not the CDTs?

    Total Tomfoolery!

    • Legalgal says:

      A constitutional issue and beyong their remit. They will likely be sanctioned or black listed in some form.

  5. curious says:

    Can someone tell me what exactly is a public ownership register ?


  6. Rocky5 says:

    Independence here we come!