The UK government is keeping up the pressure on Jersey and other finance centres to create public records of exactly who owns all trusts, investment vehicles and companies held here, as part of G20 agenda promoting transparency.
Jersey already has a registry of beneficial ownership – effectively, a list of companies that says who really owns them – but it’s a private document that’s only available to regulators, tax authorities and law enforcement.
The pressure from the UK is to open that registry to public scrutiny – something that they say they’re planning to do themselves.
In the House of Commons on Wednesday, a junior minister confirmed that the Ministry of Justice had raised the issue with the Jersey authorities again – following up UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement that all of the Crown Dependencies should adopt a transparent sytem.
Dominic Raab – Parliamentary Under Secretary of States at the Ministry of Justice – said in response to a question from Labour MP Roder Godsiff, that talks were continuing, but also highlighted that it was for the Crown Dependencies to make their own decisions.
He said: “The Prime Minister has made clear that he would like a publicly accessible central register of company beneficial ownership to be the new international standard.
“The Government is in dialogue with the Crown Dependencies about UK policy in this area and progress on the wider G20 transparency agenda.
“The role of my Department is to manage the constitutional relationship between the UK and the Crown Dependencies.We have discussed the subject of beneficial ownership with the Crown Dependencies where it impacts on that relationship but it is not my Department’s role to make specific recommendations.
“The Crown Dependencies are not part of the United Kingdom. They are self-governing Dependencies of the Crown with their own legislative assemblies, administrative, fiscal and legal systems and courts of law.”
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