Statement by Minister for Financial Services, Wayne Panton, on the Commencement of Cayman's Consultation on its G8 Action Plan

On 31 October, the UK announced a proposal for a public register of beneficial ownership information, following the results of its public consultation. If implemented, the register conceivably would allow a citizen of any country to access information on the beneficial owners of UK-registered entities.

In the Cayman Islands, we also are assessing our regime on beneficial ownership. In our action plan on the misuse of companies and other legal structures, published immediately following the June G8 Summit, we committed to assess whether a central registry of beneficial ownership is the most appropriate and effective way to improve transparency. Further to that commitment, our public consultation document will be issued this November.

Along with our consultation, we will continue to monitor the global response to the UK's announcement and any proposals that are made by other G8 countries, the G20 and other relevant international bodies on matters related to transparency. Universal success will be predicated on a fair, and level, playing field in which all jurisdictions adhere to accepted and recognised standards.

As evidenced in our April 2013 Phase 2 Peer Review Report by the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, information relating to beneficial owners is available in Cayman. Through our recognised legal and regulatory infrastructure, that information has been collected and updated in the jurisdiction for more than a decade.

The UK's proposal to consider a public register on beneficial ownership continues the UK's strong political stance on tax and transparency matters and expands the public discourse on the best way to facilitate a global standard.

The Cayman Islands will continue to engage in the discussion, and to support the UK and the global financial industry in developing effective standards. Our record demonstrates this; for example, we will shortly be signing a FATCA-style agreement with the UK to automatically share financial information with the UK on UK taxpayers who hold Cayman Islands accounts. Our signing of a FATCA Model 1 IGA with US also is imminent.

Furthermore, following the Cayman Islands formal request for the UK to extend its membership in the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, the convention will become effective in Cayman on 1 January 2014.

In April this year we agreed to participate in the G5 pilot on multilateral automatic exchange of information. To date, Cayman also has signed tax information exchange agreements with 31 jurisdictions, and negotiations are either completed, or underway, with a further 18 jurisdictions.

As the global discussion on beneficial ownership continues, we note that our legislative and regulatory framework has been assessed favourably by several supranational bodies, and that this is a matter of public record. The Cayman Islands intends to stay the course that has led to this high regard, and we will continue to both consider and adopt standards that are practiced worldwide.

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