The requirement for UK Overseas Territories (UKOTS) to have public registers of beneficial ownership of company ownership before it is a global standard, was at the very least a palpably stupid idea. The aim of public registers is to increase transparency however, they could end up doing more bad than good, particularly in the area law enforcement.
Right now, the situation is such that the HMRC and the UK law enforcement authorities are able to receive beneficial ownership, directorship and certain financial information about a company from a UKOTs register usually in 24 hours. Moreover, the information on the current registers is verified. This in turn allows UK law enforcement and HMRC to investigate suspected money laundering and tax evasion thoroughly. Additionally, some well-to-do officer occasionally leaks the information to the media such as the Guardian, or some other media outlet who in turn writes a sensationalized story.
The fundamental problem with a public register is that it furthers the very problem that it is trying to solve. If it is that public registers are introduced in UKOTS before it is a global standard, then ill-doers or persons that simply want their privacy respected that are currently utilizing the UKOTS company systems will either transfer the company or its assets to a country without a public register such as Mauritius or perhaps Belize or to a country that would be extraordinarily hard for the UK to blacklist such as the UAE . This places much needed information beyond the reach of UK law enforcement and HMRC.
It has been noted by Lord Ahmad that there has been no evidence of companies fleeing as a result of requirement to impose a beneficial ownership register, however, for obvious reasons, this does not mean that company assets have not been transferred. In other words, although it was expected that companies would transfer to other jurisdictions, persons may have chosen to simply transfer their assets, which would be a cheaper option anyways. While, it is technically possible to trace these assets, but it is an extraordinarily complex and expensive task.
Additionally, UKOTs could not reasonably be expected to implement a system superior to that which exists at Company House. At this point, let us remind ourselves that the UK's public register is filled with a bunch of verifiable crap.
The lack of logic of the proponents of a public register is quite interesting given how intelligent they actually hard. It is such that, it wouldn't take a conspiracy theorist to believe that some of the more influential proponents understand all of this, and are willfully trying to push assets away from merely private jurisdictions to absolutely secret jurisdictions (seeing that the current private register system is so effective) or perhaps are just trying to make the system so convoluted and unreliable that any information garnered from it could not be used in court or given any weight in an investigation. Their own way of protecting themselves or their friends perhaps? But I am not a conspiracy theorist, so I will take their actions at face value.
Thankfully this idiocy has been postponed until 2023. Thus, I'll leave it here for now.