DPM: Beneficial ownership registry launch stalled due to ‘technical issues’

DPM: Beneficial ownership registry launch stalled due to ‘technical issues’
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS- The launch of a private register of beneficial ownership for all corporate vehicles domiciled in the Bahamas has been delayed for three months due to ‘technical issues’, Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest revealed yesterday.

Turnquest underscored 80 percent of financial services providers have registered and are in compliance with the Act to-date.

The Register of Beneficial Ownership Bill 2018, was passed in the House of Assembly last December.

The legislation mandates the creation and maintenance of an electronic database containing beneficial ownership details for all corporate and legal entities registered in The Bahamas.

It however only permits a search of this database by a “designated person”, upon the request of an “authority” listed in the Bill.

These authorities include the Attorney General’s Office, the Financial Intelligence Unit and the financial services industry regulators.  

As a result the beneficial ownership registry is not accessible to members of the general public.

Turnquest told Parliament yesterday that the ‘short’ amendment to the Register of Beneficial Ownership Act 2018 was as a result of a delay in the launch of the system that uploads the registry.

The delay he said would be for three months due to ‘some technical issues’.

“Following consultation with the Attorney General and other financial and corporate services providers the Attorney General made the recommendation that we pass the amendment to to extend the period for registration by three months to March 31st of 2020,” Turnquest said.

“The original date would have been January 1. We do not see this as being of any significant consequence however it is important that we do get the registry up and fully implemented as quickly as possible.

“To-date we have 80 percent of the associations and financial services providers registered and compliant with the Act,” he said.

“We aim for 100 percent  by March 31. In the new year the Attorney General’s Office will engage in a exercise to ensure that all of the financial and corporate services providers particularly those who may be smaller and have challenges meeting the requirements have all the systems and training  they need to effectively utilize the system and ensure we meet our commitment to the international community to identify beneficial owners.”