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British Overseas Territories committed to establish publicly available registers of beneficial owners

On 15 July 2020 the UK Minister for the Overseas Territories and Sustainable Development Elisabeth Sugg have submitted a written statement to the UK Parliament informing that eight British Overseas Territories are prepared to establish publicly available registers of beneficial owners of companies until the end of 2023.

The abovementioned Overseas Territories which made a commitment to enact necessary legislation and develop the opened database of beneficial owners of companies itself are the following: 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.

At the same time, the written statement refers to negotiations between the UK and British Virgin Islands (BVI) regarding the change of regime of access to information from centralized beneficial ownership register functioning in the BVI: currently the details of beneficial owners of BVI companies are confidential, but the proposal is to make them available to the public.

Starting from 2018 the possibility to oblige Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to create publicly available registers of beneficial owners was being discussed in the UK Parliament, because the same UK apply the regime of public availability to the information of beneficial owners (“persons with significant control”) of companies and partnerships with legal personality. However, governments of number of jurisdictions was rejecting these requirements of the UK for some time with reference to their autonomy.

But finally, Overseas Territories have committed to establish opened databases of beneficial owners, as well as they have accepted the deadline for this which is the end of 2023. Previously the similar statement has been made by the Crown Dependencies (Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man), and in one more Overseas Territory (Gibraltar) the opened register of beneficial owners is functioning since 2018.

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