On 23 March 2018 Bermuda brought into operation legislation requiring all Bermuda companies, except those that are exempted, to obtain information regarding their beneficial owners and to maintain beneficial ownership registers at their registered offices (or at such other place in Bermuda convenient for inspection by the Registrar of Companies). Additionally, information regarding their beneficial owners must be filed with the Bermuda Monetary Authority (“BMA”).

The new legislation is intended to enable Bermuda to meet the standards for transparency with regards to registered entities set by the Financial Action Task Force and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”).

Existing companies to which the legislation applies have a transitional period of six months from 23 March to update or verify information relating to their beneficial owners. Accordingly, it is vital that all Bermuda companies should now take steps to determine their status under the legislation and, unless exempted, to proactively identify and provide notices to their beneficial owners.

The principal purpose of the legislation is to make beneficial ownership information normally held by corporate service providers readily accessible to law enforcement agencies in response to proper and lawful requests. The beneficial ownership register is not publicly accessible and may only be accessed by or on behalf of the Registrar of Companies.

Legislation has also been brought into operation requiring all Bermuda limited liability companies and all exempted general partnerships and exempted limited partnerships to comply with similar requirements. Similar exemptions are also available to these entities. However, this alert only specifically refers to the requirements relating to companies.

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