The UK Government yesterday welcomed the commitment of eight overseas territories to establish publicly available registers of company beneficial ownership. Noting there were considerable challenges for many of the territories, and committing to assisting them, the Government has set a target date for implementation of the end of 2023. In its statement, the UK Government underscored the ongoing contribution by the overseas territories to the global fight against financial crime. In particular, the UK Government highlighted there was already sharing by many OTs of beneficial ownership information with UK law enforcement to assist with criminal investigations, and noted that the arrangements "were working well". In addition, the UK Government recognised the commitment of many of the OTs to the OECD's Common Reporting Standard, the aim of which is to bring to an end to offshore tax evasion by facilitating the automatic exchange of financial information between governments. The UK Government's proposed timeline is consistent with statements it has previously made, and it will use existing AML legislation as the basis for issuing the necessary Order in Council. The commitments by the eight OTs follow those made by Crown Dependencies last year.
In line with the Sanctions and Money Laundering Act 2018 the Government will prepare a draft Order in Council before the end of 2020, which will be published... The Government considers that the end of 2023 is a reasonable deadline for the introduction of such registers. Meeting this date will be a considerable ask for many Overseas Territories, given their limited resources; especially those Overseas Territories that do not currently have a company beneficial ownership register. It will involve significant legislative and operational changes. To provide the Overseas Territories with assistance on registers the Government ran a technical workshop last July, hosted webinars in November and will be providing further assistance.