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Barbados Rejects UK Push For Public Beneficial Ownership Register

Friday, May 11, 2018

Barbados's Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce, and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, has told a Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) conference there is no support on the island for a public register of beneficial ownership.

His remarks follow amendments to the UK Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill passed by the House of Commons last week that would require the UK's 14 Overseas Territories to introduce public ownership registers by the end of 2020 or face having the requirement legally imposed by the UK Government.

Innis said the UK Parliament's requirement would place the lives and well-being of private citizens at great risk and encourage an underground market in secretive corporate structures.

Noting that many Caribbean countries have been erroneously placed on various kinds of tax blacklists, he said the region has become victim to overzealous regulators who have made life a "living hell" for the best-governed corporations and for many legitimate high-net-worth individuals. He also said these regulators had precipitated bank "deriskng" in which international banks have withdrawn from the region rather than have to comply with onerous and therefore costly regulatory requirements.

Innis emphasized that Barbados continues to engage with the OECD and European Union and said that requiring transparency from the region must be matched by efforts to ensure transparency worldwide.