British Overseas Territories may be required to establish public registers of beneficial ownership in 2020. A new clause was added to the new Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill with cross-party support and was accepted by the Government and was added to the Bill without a vote.
The new clause would require the UK Government to ‘provide all reasonable assistance’ to the UK’s Overseas Territories to establish public registers of beneficial ownership information of companies registered in each jurisdiction. The Secretary of State will be also requiredby 31 December 2020 to prepare a draft Order in Council requiring the Government of any British Overseas Territory that has not already done so to introduce such a publicly accessible register.
The UK's verseas Territories are:
Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Parliament did not extend this clause to the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
The Isle of Man already holds its own database of beneficial ownership however this is not a public record and it is available to UK authorities under a beneficial ownership sharing agreement. Likewise Jersey and Guernsey also hold private databases of beneficial ownership.
Parliament's continued support of allowing the Crown Dependencies to keep their databases secret is completely at odds with the UK's requirement for companies to retain a Register of People with Significant Control. The UK Land Registry has also now made its commercial property database open to the public.