Isle of Man beneficial ownership bill gets first reading

Legislation to give the Isle of Man a central database of corporate beneficial ownership has had its formal first reading in the Crown Dependency’s House of Keys. 

The Beneficial Ownership Bill was moved by Treasury minister Alfred Cannan in a meeting of parliament in Tynwald, pictured above, yesterday.

The bill, available to view on the bills section of the Tynwald website has been developed in line with the Isle of Man Government’s commitment, made to the United Kingdom Government in April last year, to enhance arrangements for the sharing of information about the beneficial ownership of companies. This followed on from the fall-out from the so-called Panama Papers massive data leak and the call for ‘hidden’ assets to be made more readily available for inspection by relevant parties.

Once the bill is approved businesses and individuals using companies to house money will have details of their holdings made available to tax officials and law enforcement agencies in the Isle of Man and in the UK.

Central database

The bill legislation states that information held on the central database will be accessible by certain Isle of Man authorities and, on request to the Island’s Financial Intelligence Unit, by the intelligence and law enforcement agencies of countries with which the Isle of Man has a beneficial ownership sharing agreement. Currently this is only the UK.

Other Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories have all made the same commitment, although, as reported, the Cayman Islands has recently made moves to oppose any amendments that might see such databases made public, as that might discourage financial firms and individuals from using the territory’s services in the future.

The agreement with the UK provides for the sharing of adequate, accurate and timely beneficial ownership information for the prevention and detection of serious and organised crime, such as corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing.

The database will be maintained as part of the Companies Registry and overseen by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority.

The Beneficial Ownership Bill was, as reported, discussed via public consultation in November and December last year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Robinson
Deputy Editor, International Investment and Head of Video at Open Door Media Publishing. A fully qualified journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as an IFA.

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