UK Overseas Territories, including the offshore financial centers of the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the BVI, will be required to introduce public registers of local companies' beneficial owners by the end of 2020.
This is following a decision by the UK’s Parliament taken on the 1st of May 2018 by which they accepted an amendment on the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill.
The amendment requires each territory to establish "a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies registered in its jurisdiction", with "all reasonable assistance" from the UK Government. Any territory that fails to establish a register by 31 December 2020 will have one imposed by the UK Government.
Noting that this amendment does not apply to the UK's Crown dependencies, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man, which face similar issues, but which the UK Parliament cannot oblige to act (unlike the territories).
The Bill has not yet become law, and the timeframe for the territories to implement public registers means that there is unlikely to be any short-term compliance impact on clients.
At the same time, the Overseas Territories have already warned that they will challenge this and fight against any orders to open up beneficial ownership registers.