The province will develop a new registry designed to deepen its tracking of business ownership and corporate investment.
On March 29, the BC Ministry of Finance announced that it would “end hidden ownership” in private businesses through the creation of a public registry of beneficial owners. The move parallels a federal bid to create a similar registry for federally incorporated businesses.
With a launch date of 2025, the BC registry will require businesses to submit and confirm a list of beneficial owners – information they’re already required to collect, but held privately – “once per year and any time there is a significant change in ownership or control.”
Designed to address money laundering, the registry will provide law enforcement agencies with corporate ownership information without the need to request the information directly from the companies themselves.
“This change will prevent bad actors from being prematurely aware that they are being investigated,” the province states.
But with 56% of farms in BC operating as incorporated entities or partnerships, the new registry will increase paperwork requirements. BC Agriculture Council staff have yet to review the planned registry for its implications on farm businesses.
The new corporate registry follows the launch in fall 2020 of a Landowner Transparency Registry that tracks the beneficial owners of properties held by trusts, partnerships and corporations.
According to FINTRAC (Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada), beneficial owners are individuals (not businesses) who “directly or indirectly own or control 25% or more of a corporation or an entity other than a corporation” such as a trust.