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Increased transparency provisions in amended companies law

Published:Thursday | May 18, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Karl Samuda

The House of Representatives last Wednesday passed the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2017, which among other things, makes provisions for local companies to conform with international obligations in relation to transparency, accountability and good governance.

A crucial requirement for beneficial owners in the amended law is the provision of information which should be made available for public records.

Closing debate on the bill in Parliament on Wednesday, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda said the information in relation to beneficial owners was critical, noting that in the past the country has been plagued "by the hidden hand that controls the management and has control over the operation of the company but not visibly so. This will ensure that those beneficial owners are part of the public record so that they can be viewed and assessed".

Samuda said that with the passage of the bill, Jamaica would benefit by way of increased ranking in the 'doing business report' and also provide a governance regime conducive to foreign investment.

He said that in keeping with international standards, the bill is significant for Jamaica to meet its international obligations by May 2017.

The Memorandum of Objects and Reasons of the bill indicates that the legislation would require foreign companies who have their central management in Jamaica to maintain ownership information.