UK Government “Welcome” Registers In OTs

July 15, 2020

The British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he welcomes the commitments from eight UK Overseas Territories — including Bermuda — to introduce publicly accessible beneficial ownership registers.

The Bermuda Government recently announced “its intention to make the companies central register of beneficial ownership information accessible to the public.”

The British Parliament has previously passed legislation seeking to compel Overseas Territories to have public registers.

A statement on the UK Government website said, “Ministers updated Parliament today on a major step forward by the UK’s Overseas Territories to help improve global corporate transparency. The written statement welcomes commitments from eight Overseas Territories to introduce publicly accessible registers detailing who owns the companies in their Territory.

“The announcements demonstrate the positive action the UK’s Overseas Territories are taking to help tackle illicit finance and follows work by Gibraltar, earlier this year in March, to make their company register publicly accessible. The Government expects that beneficial ownership information on businesses registered in the Overseas Territories will be accessible to the public by 2023.

“The eight UK Overseas Territories which have committed to implement this measure are; Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Montserrat, the Pitcairn Islands and St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab said, “This is an important step forward by governments from across the Overseas Territories. I welcome the leadership to improve corporate transparency, and the message it sends about the need to tackle illicit finance globally.

“The UK Government has led an international campaign to make such registers a global norm by 2023 and is hopeful the only remaining permanently inhabited territory not to make an announcement, the British Virgin Islands, will make a similar commitment soon. The FCO is continuing to work with their Government in encouraging them to take this action.

“The UK Government already has arrangements with the Overseas Territories whereby they provide UK law enforcement authorities access to information on the ownership of companies in their jurisdictions. This information improves the ability of law enforcers to detect money laundering and financial crime.”

Bermuda Minister of Finance Curtis Dickinson previously said: “Bermuda has always lead by example. We have a long-standing commitment to compliance with international standards on tax cooperation; transparency; and combatting money laundering, terrorist financing, and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. Accordingly, we have actively engaged with our global partners in respect of beneficial ownership and transparency.

He added that the announcement “underpins our commitment to ensure that Bermuda remains a jurisdiction of choice for quality and compliant business.”

“We are grateful to our industry stakeholders who have supported the Bermuda Governments efforts, as we continue to stay in line with evolving international standards in terms of regulation and best practice, affirming our reputation as a well-regulated and respected jurisdiction,” Minister Dickinson said.

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    It is all a token gesture. The whole impetus for openness is driven by the Eu, which Britain has decided to leave. Furthermore, the US and Canada have said that they are “unable” to comply with such openness.

    Why must Bermuda do something that Canada and the US will not do?

    • Kathy says:

      You forgot to mention why must Bermuda do something that the our own UK Master will not do also? They and the US are two of the largest places people launder their money!

      “Roughly ten percent of all companies in the UK cannot or will not identify its beneficial owner and rely on legal loopholes to avoid disclosing this information. Experts say that this has perpetuated illicit financial activity such as corruption and tax evasion.”

      “Companies have side-stepped requirements for British corporate entities to publish information on individuals who own 25 percent or more of the company – known as a “person of significant control.”

      “The 25 percent threshold means that vast numbers of companies are able to leave their beneficiaries unidentified, without explanation, and perfectly legally. Other companies illegally ignore the requirements, or say they cannot comply with them,” the report says.”

      “Steve Day, Technical Lead for OpenOwnership explained to OCCRP that in some cases, there may be legitimate reasons for why companies cannot list a beneficial owner given the 25% threshold, but what was more concerning is that “the additional 19,000 companies did not make any declaration at all and have no beneficial owner,” which violates U.K. company law.”

      Dickinson, you sold out Bermuda and we didn’t even get a say…watch another mass exodus start happening in 2023…this time it won’t just be tenants!