Barbados does not support a public register of beneficial owners of enterprises.
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, emphasised this today as he addressed the opening of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Caribbean Conference at the Hilton Barbados Resort, on the theme: Fast Forward: Future Thinking.
He stated: “As I have had to say to my counterparts in the British Government and my colleagues in the Global Forum, Barbados does not support a public register of beneficial owners of enterprises. To do such would place the lives and wellbeing of private citizens at great risk and only create a more underground market for some kind of corporate structures. I look forward to the position of the US Government, in particular.”
Mr. Inniss had earlier noted that many countries in the region had been erroneously placed on various kinds of negative lists and, as a result, had been forced to spend much of their limited resources on getting struck off the said lists.
“We have become victims of overly zealous regulators who spend every waking moment making up new rules, for example, for commercial banks, who are then compelled to create and sustain large risks and compliance departments to focus on making life a living hell for even the best governed corporations or the most legitimate high net worth person. We in the Caribbean, for example, have severely felt the effects of de-risking,” he said.
Outlining how engagement and business facilitation should operate, the Minister said: “As we continue to engage with the EU, the OECD and our partners around the world, we do so with a firm determination that there must be transparency in rule setting and there must be consistency in the application of such rules. We must not settle for anything less than that.”
He added that the way forward should be viewed with great optimism, with the Caribbean striving towards developing and sustaining a regional mechanism that devises, promotes and leads on International Business and Financial Services matters for the region. “We must stop others from maintaining a divide and rule strategy,” Mr. Inniss stressed.
The International Business Minister also contended that there was a need to strengthen the regulatory programme and ensure that only the most professional enter and remain.
“We here in Barbados and the wider Caribbean, of course, continue to battle with common reporting standards; here in Barbados we have created the Corporate Trusts as Service Provider App, which is certainly helping us to raise the level of professionalism therein,” he noted.
While stating that the professional must build upon a foundation of good ethics, he lauded STEP, noting it was an organisation which stressed the value and importance of good ethical considerations and practices. A sound ethical foundation, he added, was grounded also in best practices.
“This means that the professional must be committed to life-long learning and execution. You, the professional, must always be searching for and improving practices which will inspire client-confidence and redound to the benefit of both client and professional….
“But you also must be very mindful of what is coming down the pipeline and be prepared. I can tell you as a policymaker that a lot of energy is shortly going to be focused on developing programmes or policy perspectives on a public register for the beneficial owners of businesses under the guise that such a practice will help eliminate corruption and other illicit activities of corporations,” he warned.