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UK To Be First Mover On Public Beneficial Owner Registries

by Jason Gorringe, Lowtax.net, London
21 January, 2015

An announcement from the UK Government that it intends to establish a public registry of information on persons with a controlling interest in UK companies from April 2016 will increase pressure on offshore territories to follow suit.

The UK is to establish working groups to develop the framework, including the definition of "people with significant control" to define the scope of the new disclosure requirement. Jo Swinson of the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills said an exemption would be considered for persons at serious risk of violence or intimidation as a result of the public disclosure of their identity.

The measure is included in the Small Business, Enterprise, and Employment Bill. It will require companies to collect the data from January 2016, to be shared with the companies registry in April 2016.

The announcement follows the rejection by the UK's overseas territories of calls from the UK for them to introduce public registries on the beneficial ownership of legal entities, led by the Cayman Islands. At a Joint Ministerial Council meeting in December, the territories said that none of the Group of Twenty (G-20) nations have implemented a public registry and none looks likely to. Bermuda, for instance, has said that it would not introduce a public registry until the UK, the US, and Canada have implemented such arrangements.

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