The risk of cyberattack has been highlighted as a potential concern as the Cayman Islands government looks to develop a platform to speedily share information on company ownership with law enforcement.
Government is seeking public feedback on its plan to develop a “centralized platform” for beneficial ownership information ahead of planned legislation next year.
The Companies (Amendment) Bill 2017 would pave the way for tax collectors and law enforcers to have easier access to the identities of people who own and control Cayman companies, to aid investigations into money laundering or tax evasion.
The public has till Friday, Dec. 9, to submit feedback on the proposals, which involve corporate service providers keeping individual beneficial ownership registries which are accessible by government.
A draft bill is likely to go the Legislative Assembly early next year, with a view to implementing the system by June 30, 2017.
Chief among the concerns is the possibility of hackers gaining access to private information. According to the consultation document, “The Cayman Islands Government is extremely aware of the risk of cyberattacks and the potential for illegal disclosure of confidential information.
“The design and technical specifications of the centralized platform and the beneficial ownership registers will be designed to mitigate against these risks.”
It indicates a working group, including IT professionals, will be involved in the process and asks for feedback on potential technology concerns that should be factored into the design of the new platform.
The system is Cayman’s alternative to a central beneficial ownership registry, originally requested by the U.K. Following talks in London earlier this year, the proposal was accepted as a “similarly effective” system to a central register.
It involves corporate service providers – companies like Maples and Calder and Appleby, which facilitate incorporation of offshore entities in Cayman – maintaining private registers of the beneficial owners of each company, defined as anyone who owns more than 25 percent of the company. Those databases will be accessible to a “Centralized Platform Operator,” who is required to process requests for information from local investigating authorities or through its international agreements within 24 hours.
According to the consultation document, “Cayman will introduce a centralized platform of beneficial ownership information that will provide timely access to adequate, accurate, and current beneficial ownership information on corporate and legal entities in the Cayman Islands. This information will be available to designated U.K. law enforcement authorities. Legislative amendments and a technology solution will be necessary for the operation of this platform ….
“Specified legal entities registered in Cayman will be obliged to maintain a beneficial ownership register. These registers will then allow access from a central point within Government. This is an alternative to a requirement that the data in each individual register is filed and held by the Government.”
Feedback can be submitted to Wilbur Welcome at [email protected]