Jersey and Guernsey's governments are delaying moves to introduce a public register showing the true owners of companies while they seek "specialist legal advice" over the implications of a shock European court ruling.
The Crown Dependencies made a public commitment concerning so-called 'beneficial ownership registers' back in 2019.
Jersey launched a fully digitised central register of beneficial owners in 2021, though details are held by the Jersey Financial Services Commission and cannot be made public until the EU has agreed disclosure standards.
However, in a recent judgment following a case in Luxembourg, the European Court of Justice cast doubt on whether that will be able to happen.
Pictured: Jersey's register of beneficial ownership is held at the Jersey Financial Services Commission and is not open to the public.
It concluded that the general public's access to information on the underlying owners of a company or trust constitutes "a serious interference" with their fundamental rights to privacy and the protection of personal data.
In a joint statement shared on Thursday afternoon, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man explained that this decision had "impact[ed] considerations... around implementing the public commitment".
It continued: "We have all committed to provide access to obliged entities for the purpose of conducting customer due diligence by the end of 2022 and have therefore consulted on the position and produced policy positions.
"However, in light of this CJEU judgment, implementation of this legislation will be delayed for a short period to enable consideration of its impact and obtain specialist legal advice, this is expected to be completed in early 2023. Subject to that advice, our intention is to adopt legislation in our respective jurisdictions as soon as possible after this time.
"In respect of extending access beyond obliged entities, we intend to obtain expert legal advice on all relevant issues and, in due course, intend to review the public commitment in line with that advice and any recent development of international best practice."
The EU court was passing judgment on the legality of an anti-money laundering directive issued in 2015 by the EU Commission, specifically a provision whereby the information on the beneficial ownership of companies incorporated within the territory of a Member States is accessible in all cases to any member of the general public.
It judged that that provision was invalid.
As well as issuing the statement alongside the other Crown Dependencies, Jersey's Government also published its response to a recent consultation on "obliged entity access to the beneficial ownership register when conducting customer due diligence".
External Relations and Financial Services Minister Deputy Philip Ozouf commented: “The publication of this consultation response demonstrates Jersey’s commitment to enhancing access to beneficial ownership information where it is right and proper to do so.
"This policy demonstrates that Jersey continues to effectively develop and implement policies in line with evolving international standards, thereby maintaining its position as a leading jurisdiction in respect of access to accurate and up to date beneficial ownership information.”
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