All UK Overseas Territories commit to publicly available beneficial ownership registers

All of the inhabited UK Overseas Territories have committed to adopt publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership.

Just a few months ago only eight of the country’s fourteen overseas territories had agreed to UK government requests to establish publicly accessible beneficial ownership registers within the next three years as part of attempts to improve financial transparency.

BVI objections

The most significant financial centre objecting to making company beneficial ownership details public was the British Virgin Islands (BVI) where the administration has been critical of UK efforts to persuade them to make registers compulsory and public (Trade-based Financial Crime, 28 September 2020).

All of the territories with financial centres already share confidential information on company beneficial ownership and tax information with UK law enforcement bodies in real time.

They have now all agreed to introduce publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership.

Major change

The UK government has welcomed the move by the territories, describing it as “a major change” and has published a draft order setting out the minimum standards it expects to see from the territories’ registers.

Territories with financial centres must share beneficial ownership information on legal persons with UK law enforcement agencies within 24 hours of a request – or just one hour in urgent cases.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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