Breakthrough in Barbados: Beneficial ownership register to get legal backing
The Government of Barbados is considering a proposal for a new beneficial ownership register, a requirement of the Financial Action Task Force for increased transparency for the island's many international business companies and account holders in its offshore finance sector.

Barbados, one of the Caribbean's international centres for financial services (ICFS) is moving towards improving records of the beneficial owners of companies registered in the territory

On July 7, the Kevin Hunte, director of international business of the International Business Unit (IBU) in the Ministry of Business Development, indicated that a policy proposal has been made to the Government of Barbados for the establishment of a beneficial ownership register.

The report, carried in the Barbados Today newspaper, indicated that the register should provide up-to-date information to satisfy international requirements regarding transparency and beneficial ownership.

The report stated, "As part of the aim of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to deter and prevent the misuse of companies, trusts, foundations and other types of legal persons and legal arrangements from engaging in money laundering, corruption and other illegal activities, countries are required to meet certain standards on transparency and beneficial ownership."

FATF describes a beneficial owner as the natural person(s) who ultimately owns or controls a company or the natural person on whose behalf a transaction is being conducted. It also includes those persons who exercise ultimate effective control over a legal person or arrangement, it was noted.

The aim is to prevent the misuse of legal persons for money laundering or terrorist financing.

Hunte indicated that the Ministry of Business Development recently submitted to Cabinet, a paper "for the establishment of a beneficial ownership register to ensure that competent authorities and law enforcement agencies have timely access to accurate and updated beneficial ownership information for all legal persons in Barbados".

"The ability to effectively monitor companies' obligations to maintain beneficial ownership information at the registered office has been a source of concern by both the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] and the FATF," Hunte was quoted by Barbados Today as saying.

He noted that the register would also remove entities that are no longer in existence.

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