Following a major U-turn by the Government, the beneficial owners of businesses registered in British overseas territories will be required to list their names in registers open to the public by 2020.

New measures in the form of an amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill will compel British overseas territories to introduce public registers showing the beneficial ownership of the companies that are registered within their jurisdictions.

Although the Government had initially opposed the measure, support from several Conservative MPs and backing from other parties appear to have led to the change in approach.

The amendment was tabled by Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge and Conservative MP, Andrew Mitchell.

Home Office Minister, Sir Alan Duncan, said: “We’ve listened to the strength of feeling in the House on this issue and accept that it is without a doubt the majority view of this House that the overseas territories should have public registers.”

While British overseas territories will be affected by the measure, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are crown dependencies and will not be affected.

As well as these transparency measures, the Government has also backed the so-called ‘Magnitsky’ amendment as part of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, to sanction human rights abusers.

Maung Aye
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