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Govt moves on company ownership register

Electronic database on way after data leak

The Manx government has moved to counter criticism over secrecy in offshore financial centres, in the wake of this week's data leak from Panama. 

It has announced what it calls 'enhanced' new arrangements for sharing information about the beneficial ownership of Island-registered companies with the United Kingdom.

In a statement this afternoon (8 April) the government says it will establish a central, electronic database of information on the ultimate ownership of corporate and legal entities.  

Chief Minister Allan Bell says this will provide UK and Manx law enforcement agencies with 'adequate, accurate and current' information.

Crown Dependencies have come under international pressure to set up public registers of beneficial ownership.

It's a highly sensitive area, and the Manx authorities have so far refused to take that step, promising instead to establish a central register available on request to law and tax authorities.

This latest development acknowledges the fallout from the Panama Papers, in shining a spotlight on offshore tax schemes, represents a serious reputational threat - despite efforts by the Isle of Man in recent years to combat tax evasion, corruption and criminality.

Mr Bell said: “We have a strong track record of compliance with international standards and this commitment with the United Kingdom will further strengthen our defences against criminal activity."

He went on: "A truly global approach to tax transparency and information sharing is needed to fight the scourge of serious crime. As a well-regulated and internationally responsible country, the Isle of Man is committed to playing its part in efforts to achieve meaningful progress.”

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