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Bermuda waits for level playing field on ownership register

| 25/11/2014 | 0 Comments
CNS Business

Bermuda Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance Bob Richards

(CNS Business): The Bermuda government has said it will not be creating a publicly available register of beneficial owners of firms domiciled there before the UK, the USA and Canada all adopt the same type of access. Despite receiving similar pressure as the Cayman Islands government from the UK to create a register that will be accessible to all, Bermuda is taking a similar position to Cayman. It too is hesitating to adopt full public access to information, which both jurisdictions already collect but which remains under wraps unless accessed through existing legal channels.

Bermuda’s deputy premier and minister of finance, Bob Richards, said last week that the company will reserve any commitment to uphold a UK model of beneficial ownership prior to international policy development in this arena.

Following a recent visit to London, Richards said Bermuda had for the last 75 years led the way in terms of transparency, having established a legislative framework requiring information for those incorporating there to give that information to the Bermuda authorities.

“If we agree to a public register while our competitors around the world do not, we will put ourselves at a distinct disadvantage, severely damaging our economy,” he said.

Taking a similar position to Cayman about the issue of transparency and how far it will be required to go, Richards added, “Bermuda has never been a jurisdiction with bank secrecy laws. Whilst we respect the privacy accorded to people bestowed by British Common Law, we are not in the business of parking and hiding tax evaders’ money from legitimate authorities.”

Cayman began a consultation process last year on how it will address the increasingly controversial issue of access to information that reveals who actually profits from companies domiciled in offshore financial centres. The CIG has not yet stated how it will approach the issue but the financial sector has warned against a register that would be open to all.

Although the UK government has said it will allow each territory to make a decision on how it will comply with the increasing OECD demands for transparency in the global financial sector, subtle pressure is still being applied since British Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans that the UK would be adopting a register that would be open to all.

 

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Category: Finance, Financial Services

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