The anti-transparency attitudes, displayed by industry groups in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, who correctly fear a major loss in corporate formation business should they create public registries of beneficial owners, are now seizing upon an individual's right to privacy, as their last ploy. They are trying to hold onto the ability to sell a commodity that is of critical importance to money launderers, tax evaders, corrupt government officials, and financiers of terrorist operations.
In the aftermath of the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers and their exposure to the sordid business of Caribbean corporation secrecy, the legitimate financial world pushed back. The passage of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill in Parliament, which is intended to be the death knell for opacity in the British Overseas Territories, may cause a huge segment of the dodgy clients to give a wide berth to the corporate formation in the Cayman Islands and the BVI.
Simply put, crime suppression and counter-terrorism are far more important than some nebulous concept of the privacy of criminals and criminal organizations. Since the BVI and Cayman are not self-policing, as that would eliminate most of their clients, the UK has decreed that corporate transparency will hereafter be the solution, even if the territories are unhappy with it.
Those elements who choose to oppose the end of Caribbean corporate opacity through bogus arguments may not only find themselves on the wrong side of history, if their actions on behalf of clients are found to be in support of terrorists, and money launderers, might later be free to argue their issues from a cell in Federal Prison. It is high time for the practitioners of dark corporate secrecy to come out into the light, even if it costs them.
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant