Jersey reveals policy on beneficial ownership registry

Jersey’s government is to require trust and company service providers (TCSPs) to notify changes of beneficial ownership to the jurisdiction’s central registry within 21 days of learning of the change, as a result of changes being implemented on the island.

A central register of directors of Jersey companies is also to be created and information in both registries will be exchanged with law enforcement and tax authorities on request, as was revealed on professional standards advisory firm STEP on its website.

Jersey, along with all other Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Dependencies, have adopted these measures on request by the UK government. It announced last year that the UK’s law enforcement and tax authorities needed immediate access to beneficial ownership information for the purposes of enforcing money laundering regulations. This was formaly accepted by Jersey in April.

Jersey already had a central registry of company beneficial ownership, and all corporate and legal entities formed for non-residents are required to be formed through regulated TCSPs. However, this registry needed updating and the policy announced this week is designed to address this issue, taking into account comments received during a consultation held earlier this year, STEP said on its website.

New system

The new system acknowledges that TCSPs may only know of a change of beneficial ownership when they carry out a compliance review exercise under the existing money laundering provisions

Jersey’s government acknowledged the ‘increasing need for law enforcement authorities to have information passed to them quickly to investigate financial crime, but particularly where terrorist financing is concerned’ – with the Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) and the financial services industry stating last month that terrorist financing poses the most severe risk facing firms in Jersey.

To implement the new policy, TCSPs will have to install computer systems that will automatically deliver updates to the central registry, which is managed by the JFSC. This will be done by the end of this year – a timescale that the JFSC admits is ‘very tight’, STEP said.

All Jersey corporate and legal entities will have to confirm their beneficial ownership information to the Companies Registry in the first half of 2017. For corporate and legal entities administered by TCSPs, this will be the beneficial ownership information the TCSP already holds, based on risk-based money laundering guidelines. The new policy will start formally on 30 June 2017.

Register ‘live’ by summer 2018

The register of company directors is to be introduced by the middle of 2018. There will be a three-month window before the middle of 2018 for companies to provide the required information.

The register will not be made available to the public, though it will be available to law enforcement and tax authorities on request. However, the Jersey government could reconsider its decision if and when there is agreement on a global standard to make registers of directors publicly available.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Robinson
Deputy Editor, International Investment and Head of Video at Open Door Media Publishing. A fully qualified journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as an IFA.

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