The Government of the Cayman Islands has today announced its intention to introduce a public register of beneficial ownership, in line with evolving standards and international obligations such as those reflected in the principles of the EU 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive. This follows the announcement of the same made earlier this year by the British Crown Dependencies.
The commitment to introduce publicly accessible registers on a timeline that reflects the development and evolution of public registers in the UK and EU confirms our ongoing commitment to meeting international standards, and to adapting proactively as global best practice evolves.
The Hon. Alden McLaughlin, Premier of the Cayman Islands, said: “Since 2013 my Government has committed to introducing a public register of company beneficial ownership when it becomes an international standard. The introduction of the UK’s public beneficial ownership register, the EU 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive and similar actions by other jurisdictions represents a shift in the global standard and the practices used to combat illicit activity. I am proud that the Cayman Islands has worked so well with law enforcement and tax authorities the world over, and that the level of transparency of our regime has been recognised by key international bodies and other governments. The timeline we have announced today recognizes the work necessary to create a register that is sufficiently robust, capable of suitable levels of interoperability and that will avoid the redesigns that the UK now has to undertake.”
Commenting further, the Minister of Financial Services, the Hon. Tara Rivers said: “The plans announced today reinforce our standing as a leading International Financial Centre and our commitment to global best practice. It is appropriate that other jurisdictions with developed financial services industries follow suit, and we will make every effort to support the global development and implementation of evolving international standards in this area. We stand ready to work collaboratively with other jurisdictions as a common approach emerges in the design and maintenance of verified beneficial ownership registers.”
The Cayman Islands has a long history of working cooperatively with tax and law enforcement authorities in other jurisdictions, and we will continue to do so throughout the transition to a public register of companies. Verified beneficial ownership information has been collected in the Cayman Islands for over 15 years, and it is shared with law enforcement and tax authorities in more than 100 countries worldwide, including the UK, all Member States of the European Union and G20 countries.
Commitment by the Cayman Islands on the Implementation of Public Registers of Beneficial Ownership of Companies
- The Cayman Islands has a long history of upholding international standards and working cooperatively with tax and law enforcement authorities in other jurisdictions. We have often acted at the forefront of initiatives to enhance tax cooperation and transparency and have worked assiduously to combat money laundering and counter the financing of terrorism. Independent assessments by international organisations bear out this fact.
- We have for many years understood the importance of collecting and maintaining verified beneficial ownership information, and in fact a further enhancement of information sharing has been achieved through the Exchange of Notes with the UK. With the recent statutory review of the Exchange of Notes, it has highlighted that there exists excellent collaboration between law enforcement in the Cayman Islands and the UK. We recognise and fulfil our responsibility to the globally interconnected financial system to prevent the use of our jurisdiction for hiding and transferring illicit funds around the world.
- In such a globally interconnected framework, transparency standards must be widely adopted and effectively implemented in order to have a tangible impact. The United Kingdom has been a leader in championing such standards, and the European Union has further advanced these principles in the EU fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5th AMLD). We support these principles and commit to further develop the accessibility and transparency of our systems for beneficial ownership of companies consistent with emerging international standards.
- This commitment is made with due regard to the protection of and proportionate safeguards for fundamental rights of individuals, in particular the right to privacy, the protection of personal data and the presumption of innocence.
- We will continue to refine and improve our legislation and build the technological systems required to allow public access. This will be informed by the principles of emerging global best practice to ensure interconnection and the adoption of a common approach. We are working in anticipation of public registers of beneficial ownership becoming the international standard, and at least implemented by EU Member States by 2023.We will advance legislation to introduce public registers of beneficial ownership information when that occurs.
Financial secrecy is not tolerated in our jurisdiction. While undue focus is often placed on our jurisdiction, we fully appreciate the need to ensure coherent and efficient registration and exchange of beneficial ownership information to facilitate the transparent flow of legitimate capital.