UK accepts amendment forcing BOTs to make public registers of beneficial owners

The amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, which was strongly opposed by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), still was accepted by the UK government. According to the new provisions to the legislation, British Overseas Territories will be forced to issue public registers of beneficial owners of companies registered in each jurisdiction. The public registers should be developed by the end of 2020.

Earlier, the OECS noted that the issue of public registers is a matter for international financial regulation, led by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). It does not require public register but that beneficial ownership information is accessible and verified by law enforcement or other competent authorities. Also, the BVI earlier stated that it will comply with such a requirement if it becomes as international standard. It also noted that the UK Register, while being public, is not verifiable, so it does not technically meet FATF requirements.

The OECS said in a statement in the beginning of this week: “While we recognize and respect the sovereign right of the UK to determine its national legislation, our concern centers on those provisions which are discriminatory to the BVI and which contravene the constitutional arrangement between the BVI and the UK by which financial services are formally entrusted to the democratically elected BVI government when the new constitution was agreed in 2007”.

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