The UK’s House of Lords has voted to block a government proposal that would have called for six British overseas territories to implement a publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership by the first day of 2020.

The vote in parliament’s second house, which cannot make legislation but can ask the government to amend proposed legislation, took place after a debate on a proposed Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Bill.

Overseas territories

The measure was rejected by 211 to 201 votes after a debate on new sanctions and AML measures to be implemented in Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Since July 2017, the overseas territories have been subject to a reciprocal mechanism with the UK to exchange beneficial ownership information, but only with law enforcement authorities.

Objections raised

The proposal rejected by the House of Lords called for beneficial ownership information to be made available to the public.

Objections to the proposal included an argument that law enforcement agencies do not support public registers because they do not improve law enforcement capabilities and that the UK does not have a constitutional right to impose on self governing territories the requirement to make beneficial ownership information public.