Minister of Financial Services, André Ebanks, will present the Beneficial Ownership Transparency Bill at the next sitting of Parliament slated for September.
The proposed legislation intends to support the AML/CFT regime of the Cayman Islands by complying with the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) amended Recommendation 24, which ensures that competent authorities have access to adequate, accurate and current information on the beneficial owners of companies.
The proposed changes to the beneficial ownership regime demonstrate Cayman’s continuous efforts in adopting the changing international standards for anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing. As such they will help prepare Cayman for future rounds of FATF evaluations.
In addition to various updates and amendments, the Bill combines the beneficial ownership rules of the Companies Act, the Limited Liability Companies Act, and the Limited Liability Partnership Act in a single piece of legislation.
The proposed legislation includes a clause that would enable Cabinet to make regulations to provide public access to specified beneficial ownership information.
This is in line with a commitment made by the Cayman Islands government in 2019 concerning the introduction of a public beneficial ownership register.
However, public access can only be implemented if Cabinet regulations are affirmed by a resolution of Parliament.
According to the government, no such regulations would be commenced until the effect of a European Court of Justice judgment from November 2022 has been clarified in discussions with the United Kingdom and other Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.
The European court ruled that unfettered public access to beneficial ownership registries in the European Union interfered with privacy and data protection rights of Articles 7 and 8 of the union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The clause will therefore provide a safeguard to allow for a full legal analysis and for the government to consult with the UK government, before any public access to Cayman’s beneficial ownership register can be granted.
Cayman Finance CEO Steve McIntosh acknowledged the government’s measured approach to the issue, stating that “as one of the first jurisdictions to have already implemented a register of beneficial owners accessible to tax and law enforcement authorities in the United Kingdom, the Cayman Islands is at the leading edge of the global fight against money laundering, terrorist financing and tax evasion.”