Addressing the House of Commons debate at the second reading of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill on the 20th of February, Sir Alan said "Beneficial ownership has been at the heart of the debate...It is important to recognise that the UK is the only member of the G20 with a public register of company beneficial ownership."
"We welcome the fact that the EU is catching up with us, but, when it does, public registers of beneficial ownership will still not be a global standard. The non-EU members of the G20 will still not have them," he said.
"We hope to work with the Financial Action Task Force and other partners to establish registers of beneficial ownership as a global standard, the effect of which will be not to allow companies or people simply to shift from one regime to another and hide their assets somewhere else. In the meantime, we should remember that the overseas territories are well ahead of most jurisdictions, including many G20 partners, in developing private registers," Sir Alan observed.
He argued that "In the exchange of notes in 2016, the overseas territories with significant financial centres each committed to holding central or equivalent registers of company beneficial ownership and to making information held on those registers available to UK law enforcement and tax authorities. Those arrangements are almost complete, with some of the territories understandably slightly delayed by last year’s devastating hurricanes."
The British Conservative politician pointed out that "the overseas territories are separate jurisdictions with their own democratically elected Governments. The UK respects the constitutional relationship with the overseas territories and Crown dependencies."
He urged his fellow lawmakers that "It is entirely right to work consensually with them, rather than to impose legislation. The UK has only legislated directly without the overseas territories’ consent in the most exceptional of circumstances, such as on capital punishment."
"We do not generally legislate for the overseas territories," Duncan lamented, "and to do so would have the effect of overruling their own legislatures and could be interpreted as disenfranchising the citizens who voted for them.
The overseas territories have taken great steps forward in this area, further indeed than many other jurisdictions, and I urge the House to appreciate the importance of not jeopardising what has been agreed with them," he added.
"Until we leave the European Union," he said, "the United Kingdom will continue to exercise all the rights and obligations of membership, including with respect to common foreign and security policy, sanctions and anti-money laundering.
"After we leave, this Government intend to continue working closely with our European neighbours to ensure our collective peace and security. Sanctions and anti-money laundering regulations will continue to be a powerful tool in that effort," said Duncan.
"Through this Bill, the Government intend to ensure that these important foreign policy instruments continue to be fully available for the United Kingdom to use wherever it is deemed appropriate so to do, Sir Alan declared.
The UK Parliament will on Tuesday be debating a Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill which will have an effect on the financial services of the Overseas Countries and Territories.
CARICOM believes it is desirable for members of the FATF and OECD Global Forum to work together to establish new international regulatory standards in areas such as beneficial ownership and tax information exchange. Such co-operation would be in the best interest of all in the pursuit of a more economically prosperous future, underpinned by international institutions, and where all societies, their internal institutions and peoples are respected.
CARICOM’s Associate Members include Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Turks & Caicos Islands.
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