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British Overseas Territories in move to improve corporate transparency

By David Hughes
Eight British Overseas Territories have agreed to set up publicly accessible registers setting out who owns firms based there, the Foreign Office has said.

The move is aimed at increasing transparency about the true ownership of firms registered in Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Montserrat, the Pitcairn Islands and St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Gibraltar already has a publicly accessible register setting out the ownership of firms.

Ministers hope the move will help signal the need to tackle international “illicit finance”.

But the British Virgin Islands is yet to commit to introducing a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership, the Foreign Office said.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “This is an important step forward by governments from across the Overseas Territories.”

“I welcome the leadership to improve corporate transparency, and the message it sends about the need to tackle illicit finance globally.”

In a statement to Parliament, Overseas Territories minister Baroness Sugg said the registers would be established by the end of 2023.

“It took the UK over three years to introduce its own public register,” she said.

“The 2023 deadline also aligns with the Government’s international campaign to advance publicly accessible company beneficial ownership registers as a global norm.”

“We believe that action on beneficial ownership information in the Overseas Territories should be complemented by improved public access to beneficial ownership information internationally. This maximises the protection of our national security.”

She added: “We hope that the British Virgin Islands will also commit to publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership without delay.”

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