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Beneficial ownership register rules updated

Bermudian companies will have to update their beneficial ownership details if a proposed new law takes effect.

At present, firms are only required to file beneficial ownership at formation — with no obligation to inform island authorities of any changes.

Bob Richards, Minister of Finance, said, “Bermuda has been collecting information on beneficial ownership of corporate and legal entities for more than 70 years.

“In fact, we have been a world leader in this regard and our registry is considered effective and compliant with international standards.

“In response to growing demands for transparency from the global community, these 2017 amendments are to ensure Bermuda's regime remains in good international standing for future generations.”

The move comes after the Bermuda and UK governments last month signed the UK Exchange of Notes Agreement.

The agreement concerns the sharing of beneficial ownership information through a central registry, which has key requirements to meet the internationally accepted Financial Action Task Force standards.

The effective date for implementing the terms of this agreement is the end of next month.

Now a consultation paper — Proposed Revisions to Beneficial Ownership Disclosures — has been published and the business world has been asked to submit comments as part of a consultation process.

The document was prepared by the Bermuda Monetary Authority, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Development and a joint industry session is expected to be announced later this week.

Jeremy Cox, CEO of the BMA, said, “The partnership between Bermuda and the UK to upgrade the beneficial ownership register is expected to result in further improvements to the detection and deterrence of serious financial crimes.

“It is also in line with the authority's decades-long commitment to creating and retaining a regulatory environment that enables Bermuda to remain world-class in international compliance, and be an appealing centre for highly regarded businesses.”

Additional proposed amendments to the legislation include the imposition of an obligation on all companies formed in or operating in Bermuda to maintain a beneficial ownership registry and expansion of the definition of beneficial ownership to reflect the international definition now applicable for anti-money laundering and antiterrorist funding purposes.

The aim is to ensure the registry for beneficial ownership will include not only the individual who ultimately owns equity voting shares, but also owners of capital shares without voting rights and include people who have significant control — often referred to internationally as “controllers”.

The legal term beneficial ownership means the actual owners of equity in a business, even though title ownership may be in another name.

It also covers individuals who directly or indirectly have the power to influence decisions, such as appointment of directors.

Similar amendments will be proposed to the filing of beneficial ownership information related to exempted partnerships and limited partnerships.

A copy of the May 5 consultation paper is available at bma.bm by accessing the “Notices” section under “Document Centre”.

Comments on the proposals should be sent to policy@bma.bm and mbinns@gov.bm.

Jeremy Cox: the BMA CEO says the changes should improve detection and deterrence of financial crime

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Published May 22, 2017 at 1:29 pm (Updated May 23, 2017 at 1:00 am)

Beneficial ownership register rules updated

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