Direct access to Cayman company info wanted by UK

The UK’s overseas territories minister has told the Cayman Islands premier that the British government wants direct access to companies registered in the jurisdiction for all of their law enforcement agencies. So far, the Cayman leader has refused.

As the dispute between the UK and its territories continues, the return of James Duddridge to the OT desk at the Foreign Office has seen a renewal of demands by the UK, dashing hopes raised by the acting minister, Grant Shapps, that access to beneficial ownership could be fulfilled via other means. In a statement to the Legislative Assembly, Premier Alden McLaughlin said beneficial ownership was not on this year’s agenda but there would be discussions with Duddridge.

The premier said that Duddridge had told him by phone that the UK was now seeking direct access by its law enforcement agencies to beneficial ownership information in the Cayman Islands and other overseas territories. McLaughlin said that the information wanted by the UK does not belong to the government of the Cayman Islands as it is property of the owners of the respective legal entities.

Concerned that anything else would place Cayman Islands at a competitive disadvantage, he stated that the jurisdiction was already complying with international standards, particularly as it relates to transparency and beneficial ownership information. He said: “We have demonstrated this full commitment in a number of meaningful ways, such as being an early adopter to the Convention on Mutual Tax Assistance and leaders in the implementation of US and UK FATCA as recent examples. However, what we are not prepared to do is to adopt a scheme which our competitors, some of whom are G20 member states, do not subscribe to, put ourselves at a competitive disadvantage and thereby cause our business to migrate to competitor jurisdictions.”

Previously, the British Prime Minister Cameron has stated that not enough is being done to tackle tax evasion by the UK’s overseas territories.

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