Deadline nears for beneficial ownership consultation

Government has reminded industry, clients and the general public to respond to a consultation on the beneficial ownership of companies by the Friday, Jan. 31, deadline.

The government consultation paper, issued in November, invited a response due to the importance of any potential measures for financial services providers, as well as anyone who has a company – regardless of its type – in the Cayman Islands.

“It is essential that government hears your opinions,” said Minister for Financial Services Wayne Panton.

The consultation paper is available on the Cayman Finance website.

Mr. Panton said the purpose of the consultation, which covers specific sections of the Cayman Islands Action Plan to Prevent the Misuse of Companies and Legal Arrangements, is to ensure appropriate transparency in the Cayman Islands business environment.

This includes ensuring that Cayman has appropriate mechanisms to effectively maintain information on who owns, and who controls, Cayman-registered companies; and that this information is readily available to appropriate authorities.

The action plan was released after the G8 summit in June 2013, where political leaders demanded greater transparency around beneficial ownership.

The government consultation specifically asks whether the Cayman Islands should introduce a public register of beneficial owners of Cayman entities.

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to create a publicly accessible central registry of information on beneficial ownership in the U.K. late last year and called on other countries to follow suit.

Mr. Cameron said making the centralized repository of beneficial ownership information publicly available would have benefits for businesses and developing countries, “who will have easy access to all this data, without submitting endless requests for each line of enquiry.”

However, concerns have been raised that Cayman may be put at a competitive disadvantage if such repositories were not introduced universally.

Questions about the consultation can be directed to Wilbur Welcome, senior policy analyst in the Financial Services Secretariat, at [email protected]