Britain welcomes island’s register commitment
Dominic Raab, the British Foreign Secretary, has welcomed Bermuda’s commitment to make its companies beneficial ownership register public as a step to improve global transparency.
In an update to the British Parliament yesterday, Mr Raab said the island was one of eight Overseas Territories to commit to transparency on who owns companies.
“This is an important step forward by governments from across the Overseas Territories,” Mr Raab said. “I welcome the leadership to improve corporate transparency, and the message it sends about the need to tackle illicit finance globally.”
The British Government said it “expects that beneficial ownership information on businesses registered in the Overseas Territories will be accessible to the public by 2023”.
It added that Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Montserrat, the Pitcairn Islands and St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, and the Turks&Caicos Islands had also made the commitment.
It added: “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.”
On Sunday, the Bermuda Government confirmed its intention for the beneficial ownership register the island has kept for about 70 years to become publicly accessible.
It said the European Union was due to publish an implementation review of the fifth Anti Money-Laundering Directive in January 2022. The directive requires EU member states to keep records on true ownership of companies that are open to the public.
The Bermuda Government statement added: “Within 12 months of that publication, we will therefore bring forward to the legislature proposals to establish public access to beneficial ownership data of companies held on a central register.”
Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister, said the move “underpins our commitment to ensure that Bermuda remains a jurisdiction of choice for quality and compliant business”.
International law firm Conyers said: “The announcement is made in anticipation of, and it would appear is contingent upon, public registers of beneficial ownership of companies becoming a global, international standard.”
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