MPs seeking to force Crown Dependencies into public ownership registries

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Just days after Britain’s House of Commons voted through its controversial amendment to the anti-money laundering bill, which will force the country’s overseas territories (BOTs) to disclose the ownership of companies registered in their jurisdiction, a group of MPs is pressing for the same law to apply to the Crown Dependencies.

The Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey were not included in the legislation, which instead affects the 14 British Overseas Territories, or BOTs. The exemption was won, according to lawmakers, at the eleventh hour thanks to effective lobbying on the part of the islands’ representatives in Westminster.

The Isle of Man’s chief minister, Howard Quayle, was among those in Westminster on Tuesday. He managed to quash a separate amendment from the Labour Party that was an attempt to force the crown dependencies to disclose the owners of all companies registered.

Andrew Mitchell, of the Conservatives, and Margaret Hodge, for Labour, are leading a “transparency” campaign in Westminster to persuade ministers that the three crown dependencies must fall in line with the overseas territories by the same deadline of the end of 2020. The two MPs said if necessary they would explore ways to force the islands to comply.

“We expect the government to use its good offices to persuade the crown dependencies to introduce public ownership registers,” Mitchell said. “But if they do not, parliament will return to the charge.”

Several of the 14 jurisdictions are questioning the legitimacy of the newly-passed legislation, and whether it is constitutional.

Author spotlight

Christopher Copper-Ind

Christopher Copper-Ind is editor-in-chief of International Investment. Before this, he was editorial director of The Business Year, from 2014 to 2017.