16 Jul 2020
UK officials praised progress by eight British overseas territories to open their company registers to the public by 2023, in a statement Wednesday.
The commitments, long-sought by transparency advocates, will permit private citizens to access data on the beneficial owners of companies registered in 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, the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office said.
The move follows similar steps by British Crown Dependencies and a separate commitment on public registers by Gibraltar in March. Of the UK’s permanently inhabited overseas territories, only the British Virgin Islands remains uncommitted to opening its register to the public, the office said.
“This is an important step forward by governments from across the Overseas Territories,” said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in a statement. “I welcome the leadership to improve corporate transparency, and the message it sends about the need to tackle illicit finance globally.”
Meeting the 2023 deadline “will be a considerable ask for many Overseas Territories, given their limited resources—especially those Overseas Territories that do not currently have a company beneficial ownership register,” said UK Overseas Territories Minister Baroness Sugg in a statement to British lawmakers. “It will involve significant legislative and operational changes.”
The commitments align with the UK’s broader campaign to make corporate transparency a “global norm,” Sugg said in the statement.
“We believe that action on beneficial ownership information in the Overseas Territories should be complemented by improved public access to beneficial ownership information internationally,” she said. “This maximises the protection of our national security.”
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