A central database of beneficial ownership has moved a step closer - after moves to address business concerns were approved.
The House of Keys agreed unanimously to Legislative Council amendments to the Beneficial Ownership Bill 2017, after suspending standing orders to allow discussion to take place this week.
Treasury Minister Alfred Cannan said: ’The timetable for progressing this important piece of legislation has been extremely tight given our commitment to the UK to introduce a central database of beneficial ownership by June 30.’
The upper chamber made two amendments to the bill, which meant it had to return to the House of Keys for further agreement.
Mr Cannan said that, as the next available sitting of the Keys was in May, it was vital to move quickly ’in order to give industry as much certainty as possible ahead of the introduction of the new database’.
He said Treasury supported the amendments, which aimed to address concerns from the business sector.
’The requirement in the bill for all entities to appoint a nominated officer has been opposed, quite vigorously, by sections of industry, particularly the Association of Corporate Service Providers,’ he said.
’The government’s over-riding policy objective has been to ensure that there is a single point of responsibility for compliance with the bill’s main requirement - submitting beneficial ownership to the central database.
’The position of nominated officer, established by the Companies (Beneficial Ownership) Act 2012, was viewed as the most appropriate way of achieving this objective.’
But, he said, it had become clear, after the bill had first gone through the Keys, that ’we had to work harder to try to find a workable solution to balance the concerns of industry and the government’s policy objective’.
The amendments approved by Legislative Council had done that.
’They create a power for the Treasury, by order and subject to the approval of Tynwald, to exempt a legal entity or class of legal entities from the requirement to appoint a nominated officer,’ he explained.
’It is proposed that the order would apply to legal entities in receipt of corporate services provided by holders of a Class 4 licence as prescribed by the Regulated Activities Order 2011. In effect, it will cover those entities in receipt of corporate services provided by a licensed corporate services provider.
’For those entities covered by the order and therefore exempt from the requirement to appoint a nominated officer,
it is proposed that the responsibilities in the bill which currently rest with the nominated officer will instead be transferred to the licensed corporate services provider providing those services. ’
Talks continued between the ACSP and the Treasury on the ’practicalities’ of the database.
The actual order that it will be brought to Tynwald had yet to be finalised, he said, but it would be brought into effect at the same time as the Beneficial Ownership Bill became law.
Mr Cannan said: ’The ACSP remains comfortable with the direction of travel and we are confident that the terms of the order will be settled in the very near future.
’The amendments create the extra flexibility within the bill which a number of people have sought.’