The governments of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man have teamed up to fight proposals being discussed in Westminster today, to force the island to publish lists of who owns locally registered companies.
It's the second time in a year that the island has had to fight the proposals - late last April, Ministers launched emergency meetings in London to try and convince UK MP's not to try and legislate for the islands.
They were successful that time, but now further amendments have been proposed to the UK’s Financial Services (Implementation of Legislation) Bill, which would force the islands to publish a company ownership register by the end of next year. UK MP's argue that the moves would help in their fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
But in a joint statement issued over the weekend, the three governments said they had raised strong objections, describing the proposals as "inoperable."
"We are not represented in the UK Parliament, and it is a respected constitutional position that the UK does not legislate for the Crown Dependencies on domestic matters without our consent.
"The proposed amendments attempt to impose public registers of beneficial ownership for all Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. We also consider the legislation to be wholly unnecessary in the context of our robust existing approach to the retention and sharing of beneficial ownership information. All Crown Dependencies are committed to the highest standards of financial services regulation and transparency. Our jurisdictions are parties to Exchange of Notes for Beneficial Ownership information with the UK and are committed to the aim of exchanging adequate, accurate and current information on beneficial ownership to help combat tax evasion, money laundering and corruption."
Pictured: Dame Margaret Hodge MP (Labour) and Andrew Mitchell MP (Conservative), who are leading efforts to clamp down on money laundering through the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, which they describe as tax havens.
The proposals are in the name of MP's Andrew Mitchell and Margaret Hodge, along with 53 of their colleagues, including well known names and parliamentary big-hitters such as Ken Clarke, Sir Oliver Letwin, David Davis, Caroline Lucas, Ed Miliband, Margaret Becket, Harriet Harman and Hilary Benn.
Pictured: the relevant part of the amendment being proposed today.
Speaking on the same subject in June 2018, Kate Nutt, the Group Director for External Relations for the Government of Jersey gave more details on why the island is fighting these proposals:
"...we’re looking to achieve the same policy aims as the government and the opposition are looking to do. We want to be in a leading position in respect of tackling money laundering and terrorist financing and other areas of financial crime.
"We were an early adopter of the OECD’s common reporting standard on automatic exchange of information. We actively participate in the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) inclusive framework and that’s about essentially preventing companies from artificially shifting their profits around to avoid tax.
Pictured: Kate Nutt, Group Director for External Relations
"We were assessed by MONEYVAL. That was published, I think, in 2016. MONEYVAL is the EU’s own body for assessing compliance of international standards, and you know we came out with flying colours on that and actually there was a comment about our central register, recognising the fact that it’s fully vetted and verified, it’s accurate, it’s up to date, you know it’s a leader of its kind.
"All of these things show that we are really serious about tackling financial crime, about being transparent, about abiding by the highest levels of international standards; and certainly, in terms of things like the exchange of information, we have signed up to an enhanced process with the UK government where in certain circumstances they can have information within an hour."
Ministers and their officials are in London today to lobby MP's.
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