Reporters to get access to EU ownership register

| 18/12/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): Investigative journalists and other concerned citizens with a “legitimate interest”, as well as law enforcement officials and legal authorities, will have access to the ultimate owners of companies listed in central registers in EU countries under a new agreement signed this week. The European Parliament and Council agreed on a draft EU anti-money laundering directive on Tuesday that will oblige EU member states to keep registers listing information on the ultimate beneficial owners of corporate and other legal entities, as well as trusts. As Cayman and the overseas territories continue to hold out against a public register, the latest move by the EU is likely to see pressure mounting once again.

Cayman Premier Alden McLaughlin has said that during the recent meeting of the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) in London, he and the other overseas territories leaders stood firm on their refusal to create a publicly accessible central register for the territories. McLaughlin said that Cayman already collects and keeps more information on the beneficial owners of companies and other financial entities registered in Cayman than any of the on-shore jurisdictions and is compliant with international standards as the information is available to legitimate authorities.

He said Cayman would not alter the status quo unless or until public registers become the global standard, but so far no country has actually set up such a register.

The UK has announced its intention to make its register public, as has Denmark. If the latest directive from the EU is approved then that list could increase but there is no sign of any movement in the United States to meet the calls there for a register public or otherwise.

The EU agreement will provide for central registers that will be accessible to the competent authorities and their financial intelligence units without any restriction and to “obliged entities” such as banks conducting due diligence and the public, whose access may be subject to online registration of the person and to the payment of a fee to cover administrative costs.

People and organisations that can demonstrate  what has been described as a legitimate interest such as journalists or concerned citizens, would also be able to access beneficial ownership information such as the name, month and year of birth, nationality, residency and details on those who are the company owners.

The deal still needs to be endorsed by EU member states’ and by the Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committees, before being put to a vote by the full Parliament next year.

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Category: Finance, Financial Services

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