New amendments under the International Business Companies (Amendment) Act 2017 were adopted in Belize in 21 of July in order to implement registers of directors and beneficial owners as well as to abolish bearer share arrangements.
Regarding registers of directors and beneficial owners it should be taken into account that they are not open to the general public and are kept by companies incorporated under Belize IBC Act. The register of beneficial owners may be in such form as the director may approve but the company must be able to produce legible evidence of its contents.
The directors must ensure that the information to be kept in its register of beneficial owners is accurate and up-to-date. Otherwise a company is liable to a penalty of $500 for each day or part thereof during which the contravention continues, and a director who knowingly permits the contravention is liable to a like penalty. A person who provide false or misleading information commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $50 000.
Amendments concerning bearer shares have been adopted in order to bring legislation of Belize into compliance with the FATF requirements. One of the most sufficient requirements is to increase the transparency of the beneficial ownership of companies registered in Belize.
Till nowadays transparency has been impeded by bearer shares and absence of register of beneficial ownership. Now companies have no right to:
- issue bearer share;
- convert registered shares to bearer shares;
- exchange registered shares for bearer shares.
Every company who contravenes this provision commits an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $5 000 for each day of such failure to comply.
Bearer share is a share, whose anonymous owner («bearer») is recognized as a proper shareholder of the company, but is not registered either in the company or in any register and is not reflected in the share certificate.