The UK’s overseas territories are facing pressure to adopt public registers of company ownership at the end of the decade after the conservative UK government discovered it would have to support a minority-approved amendment designed to stem the global flow of laundered money.
The amendment requires 13 British Overseas Territories, including the financial centres of BVI and the Cayman Islands, to introduce public ownership registers by the end of 2020 or may have them imposed by the UK government.
MPs heard that Ministers were reluctant to dictate to the overseas territories, and acknowledged listening to the overwhelming feeling on this issue is to accept that it is without a doubt the majority view that the overseas territories should have public registers.
Approximately half of the companies referred to in the offshore ownership disclosures revealed by a consortium of investigative journalist organisations were set up in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), according to Transparency International. The campaign group Global Witness estimates that approximately EUR 70B of potentially illegitimately obtained Russian funds have entered the economy via the British Overseas Territories between 2007 and 2016 alone.