Cayman Islands and UK dispute over beneficial ownership law

The Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory, is resisting efforts by the UK government to implement a beneficial ownership register.

The Cayman Islands’ Premier Alden McLaughlin is now leading efforts to discuss changing the islands’ constitutional relationship with the UK so that the islands will not have to establish the beneficial ownership register prescribed by the British parliament.

December talks

After almost six months of trying to secure a meeting with the British government, McLaughlin has confirmed that talks with UK officials will begin on 7 December.

The decision by the Cayman Islands to seek a constitutional change was triggered by the passage of an amendment to the Sanctions and Anti Money Laundering Bill in the UK that required the British Overseas Territories with a financial services sector to establish public registers of beneficial ownership before 31 December 2020.


If the territories fail to do so, the law requires Britain to issue an order in council, changing local laws to force the implementation of registers.

McLaughlin argues that the UK parliament has no right to legislate for domestic matters that are already devolved to the Cayman Islands.


Britain faced a backlash from its overseas territories after UK parliamentarians forced through legislation that calls for a tough approach to beneficial ownership.

Parliamentarians rejected compromise legislation proposed by the British government after it came under pressure from the overseas territories (Trade-based Financial Crime, 2 May 2018).

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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