Cayman Offshore Tax Haven Will Reveal Company Owner’s Names
Action being Called The “Salisbury Effect”
Company ownership information is going to be published by Cayman Island tax havens.
Between 2010 and 2016, the Prime Minister of Britain targeted anonymous shell companies in overseas tax havens. David Cameron made the UK the first G20 country to publish a publicly available register, and he was trying to make the British territories do so, too.
The Economist recently reported that when he stepped down in 2016 campaigners kept going. Their persistence has now paid off.
An anti-money-laundering bill is designed to force the Caribbean and Atlantic territories to create public registers by December 31, 2020. This affects the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Bermuda and most importantly, the Cayman Islands.
Until recently it did not look like the bill would pass. That changed when Sergei Skripal, a Russian ex-spy was poisoned on British soil. The nerve-agent attack in Salisbury, a southern English city, focused the attention of the British government on Russian actions in a more general sense.
Now it was time to stop the rich Russian’s use of Britain and the offshore havens to wash dirty money. A lobbyist said, “It’s all down to the Salisbury effect”, naming the town where the ex-spy was killed.
- This could be “biggest move against corruption in years” says Global Witness, a campaign group in the UK.
- The territories are fuming. Previously, they have been allowed determine policies on finance for themselves.
- The territories believe their anti-money-laundering and tax-transparency regimes are as good as several OECD countries, even the United States.
- They maintain central ownership registers which are quickly accessible by law-enforcement, but are not published publicly.
- BVI shell companies are especially common in corruption and tax-evasion cases.
- Public access is important because law enforcement needs help from NGOs and journalists. Law enforcement lacks the resources to initiate inquiries, they only respond when there is existing evidence of wrong-doings.
There will be more pressure for similar treatment in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. They were never British colonies so it will be harder to force them into making the same changes. Jersey plans to fight to keep “compliant confidentiality”, until the global standards change.
It is recommended that anyone holding offshore accounts in any area, but especially in the BVI, Cayman or Bermuda, review their holdings. If you hold accounts, call us at FAS CPA Consultants for a comprehensive review.
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