The Isle of Man has quietly taken a new step away from financial secrecy, in a move welcomed by Christian Aid and Global Witness.
The island has said it will adopt the same standard of openness as European Union countries: allowing those deemed to have a ‘legitimate access’ to see new central registers of companies’ real owners.
News of the Manx government’s decision emerged in a recent answer given by the Chief Minister to a question posed by Bishop Robert Paterson.
Bishop Robert Paterson said: “I found the reply from the Chief Minister very helpful, but not entirely convincing”
“If the threats listed by the Chief Minister are so serious - and time will tell - then why has the UK agreed to publish its register?
“I am delighted that the Isle of Man will shortly have a register of beneficial ownership available to the competent authorities and I hope that the Island will look very carefully at the example of the UK when that register is made public.”
Robert Palmer, anti-money laundering expert at Global Witness said: “This is certainly a step in the right direction, although we believe that the registers need to be fully public. We now want to see the other UK Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories committing to greater transparency in the near future.”
Joseph Stead, tax justice expert at Christian Aid said: “The Panama Papers revelations have put huge pressure on leaders around the world to take decisive action to close down the company secrecy that provides cover for so much potential abuse.”
“However, restricting information about companies’ real owners to those with a ‘legitimate interest’ leaves too much wriggle room and too much potential for continued secrecy, abuse and suspicion in the minds of the public.”
“Will other businesses be able to find out who they are really doing business with? Will the citizens of poor countries be able to find out whether their own leaders are benefitting from suspicious deals?”
“The UK has rightly adopted a fully public new register of companies’ real owners and this should now be the standard expected by concerned citizens everywhere. Nothing else can really be called transparency”
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