UK to force Cayman to make beneficial ownership of companies public

The Cayman Islands and other British Overseas Territories lost the political battle in House of Commons vote on May 1.

The vote to amend Britain’s Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill to force British Overseas Territories – which are not UK Crown Dependencies – to make registers of company owners public, may fundamentally change both Cayman’s financial services business model and its relationship with the UK.

The amendment to the bill, which now goes to the House of Lords for a largely procedural vote, will require all 14 remaining British territories to make beneficial ownership of companies registered in their respective jurisdictions public. The Cayman Islands has such a registry now, but it can only be inspected by certain personnel for the purposes of specific law enforcement or tax compliance requests.

UK and Cayman sources both speculated as to the reasons for why such a decision was made and the conciliatory version of the amendment was not accepted for debate. Many noted that a crucial Brexit bill concerning the operations of the single market once the U.K. leaves the European Union next year was up for debate in the Commons as well.

From Cayman supporters’ perspectives, it was the worst possible outcome.

Cayman London office director Eric Bush told the UK public radio: “We’re exploring all options. The decisions and actions taken [Tuesday] were taken in haste, were taken with misinformation, rhetoric and Hollywood jargon. The Cayman Islands government is not going to do that.”He also added that the actions taken are certainly a blow to the relationship, which shows a lack of trust, it shows a disrespect and disregard for the constitution.

Comments are closed.