Jersey is already largely meeting the requirements laid down by David Cameron for a central registry on company ownership to fight tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, according to the Chief Minister’s department.
With aggressive tax avoidance still squarely in the political spotlight, on Friday the UK Prime Minister challenged Jersey and other finance centres to set up publicly-accessible central registries to help tackle tax abuse, warning that “the world is watching”.
Mr Cameron says that UK legislation on beneficial ownership of companies will be coming soon, but added that the UK register would stop short of publishing all of the information held. He says that any information that could help identity targets for online fraudsters would not be published, but would be accessible only to law enforcement and tax authorities.
Colin Powell, the adviser on International Affairs to the Chief Minister of the States of Jersey, says that Jersey is doing most of what Mr Cameron is asking for already, and is passing information to law enforcement and tax investigators from other countries. He said that information on ultimate beneficial ownership on Jersey companies - which is critical to understanding who is really behind complex commercial structures - is held by the Company Registry in the Jersey Financial Services Commission, and that shareholder information is available to all on the Company Registry website.
Although information on beneficial ownership of companies is not online, it is given to law enforcement and tax authorities under the relevant laws. The Company Registry may not record changes in ownership after a company is set up, but the people administering the company will, and they are regulated by the JFSC, who have in the past obtained information and passed it on to other countries.
Mr Powell said: “There is international recognition of the fact that Jersey is a leading jurisdiction in having accurate, adequate and up-to-date information on beneficial ownership.
“In this Jersey is currently far ahead of the UK and other G8/G20 countries in the quality of the information that can be provided to law enforcement and tax authorities, and is expected to remain so for the foreseeable future.”
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