The states of Guernsey has said it has decided to agree to a G5 initiative to exchange information on the beneficial owners of Guernsey-domiciled entities.
The news was announced in a little-noticed statement posted last Friday on the Guernsey government’s website. However, a list of 43 countries and jurisdictions that “support the initiative for the automatic exchange of information on beneficial ownership”, on a UK Government website last updated on 5 July, already shows Guernsey as a supporter.
In announcing its commitment “to an emerging international initiative, led by the G5 countries, on the automatic exchange of beneficial ownership information”, Guernsey said it had also signed “an Exchange of Notes” with the UK government with respect to the “mutual sharing of beneficial ownership information”.
In its statement, Guernsey noted that the G5-led beneficial ownership initiative would “see the development and implementation of a new international standard for the automatic exchange of beneficial ownership information”, which “should provide a global level playing field that has significant potential to help law enforcement authorities tackle the misuse of corporate and other structures, including misuse through financial crime, tax evasion and money laundering.”
The Guernsey announcement is significant because it was one of the few offshore jurisdictions that did not immediately rush to proclaim its willingness to participate in beneficial ownership information exchanges in the immediate aftermath of the so-called Panama Papers revelations in early April.
In a statement, Lyndon Trott, vice president of Guernsey’s Policy & Resources Committee, (pictured), said Guernsey’s support of the G5 initiative on beneficial ownership should “come as no surprise”, given that the island jurisdiction was “at the forefront of transparency, international cooperation and international engagement”.
“We look forward to working with the global community on its development and implementation,” he added.
“I am also pleased we have agreed the Exchange of Notes in relation to the sharing of beneficial ownership information with the UK.
“With our establishment of a beneficial ownership register, we will be building on the system we already have in place, which includes a legal obligation for corporate service providers to retain beneficial ownership information. This, coupled with our system of regulation, will ensure that we have a register that is accurate and verifiable.
“We have been a world leader in regulatory standards and have much experience to bring to the global community on these international initiatives, for countries large and small.”