As published on bloomberg.com, Monday 14 December, 2020.
The U.K. will make its overseas territories introduce public registers of company owners by 2023, a move that could shed light on hundreds of thousands of companies in offshore jurisdictions.
The territories, a collection of former colonies that include Gibraltar, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, have all agreed to adopt the disclosures, according to a statement Monday by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The information on an individual must include their name, country of residence, nationality, month and year of birth and the nature of their control over the company.
The move is designed to tackle illicit finance flows, the Foreign Office said. Currently the identity of the ultimate owners of assets can often be concealed in these jurisdictions, making it difficult to trace funds in business disputes, tax investigations, and money laundering probes.
The U.K. Parliament voted in 2018 to force transparency on the territories by 2020. Concerned it might cause a revolt from the former colonies, the government interpreted the ambiguously worded legislation to give the territories until 2023 to create public registries.