Authorities on the Cayman Islands have denied claims that they are frustrating British law enforcement officers by not allowing officers from the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) to access beneficial ownership information.

NCA director Donald Toon has declared publicly that several investigations had led to companies registered in the Cayman Islands – one of several British Overseas Territories – but the authorities on the islands did not cooperate when asked for information about the owners of these firms.

British criticism

Toon said that when NCA officers asked for information from British Overseas Territories, “we can generally get from them clear, unambiguous beneficial ownership…but we are having a difficulty with Cayman”.

“The Cayman government is entirely aware of the UK concerns,” he added. But the Cayman Islands authorities say there is absolutely “no merit” in Toon’s allegations.

Different positions

The Cayman Islands last year introduced a beneficial ownership registry that, under an agreement struck with the UK government two years ago, is supposed to respond to British law enforcement requests within 24 hours and in urgent cases within one hour.

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office released a statement indicating that the Cayman Islands government had pulled out of this agreement, known as an “exchange of notes” in reaction to the UK parliament’s threat to impose publicly accessible beneficial ownership registries in the overseas territories.