Crown Dependencies oppose UK 'public register' proposals

Pedro Gonçalves
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Crown Dependencies oppose UK 'public register' proposals

The chief ministers of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are united against the recent proposals from Westminster to force public registers of company beneficial ownerships in the Crown Dependencies.

More than 40 MPs have signed an amendment attempting to force the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories to open up their beneficial ownership registers, revealing who owns assets in the islands.

Chief Minister John Le Fondré, alongside his Guernsey and Isle of Man counterparts Gavin St Pier and Howard Quayle, have now issued a joint statement condemning the move as "contrary to the established constitutional relationships" and will be meeting with UK officials on Monday in London.

'"All Crown Dependencies are committed to the highest standards of financial services regulation and transparency"

The governments of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man describe the move as "wholly unnecessary" and "contrary to the established constitutional relationships that exist between the UK and the Crown Dependencies."

They also say if passed, it would produce "inoperable legislation".

"The standards applied by our jurisdictions exceed those of the United Kingdom, the registers in the Crown Dependencies contain information that is accurate and up to date."The Crown Dependencies cannot support any step that would adversely impact the effectiveness of our beneficial ownership registers, dilute the commitments we have made to transparency or reduce the robustness of our regulation," the joint statement said.

The three governments says they have been proactively engaging with the UK Government and parliamentarians to address these concerns in a bid to ensure these amendments are rejected.

'"All Crown Dependencies are committed to the highest standards of financial services regulation and transparency," the statement added.

Quayle, Ian Gorst and Gavin St Pierre will be holding meetings this Monday in London with the amendments due to be considered at the report stage of the Bill in the House of Commons.

Lyndon Trott, chairman of Guernsey Finance, described the development in a statment as a "political move by a small number of MPs" that he added "is misguided and wrong."

"Some members of the House of Commons still do not understand that Guernsey and the other Crown Dependencies are part of the solution to harmful tax practices, not the problem, and one can only assume that they have not looked at the evidence," Trott added.