19th June 2019, London - A commitment today from the UK’s Crown Dependencies (CDs) - Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man - to publicly reveal who owns the companies based in those jurisdictions is a key moment in the global fight against dirty money.
All three UK CDs have today pledged, by the end of 2023, to introduce legislation to mirror the EU’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive that includes the requirement for a public beneficial ownership register - that would for the first time reveal the individuals behind companies set up there.
The recent ‘Paradise Papers’ leak shone a light on a secret world of tax havens and offshore financial deals, including those brokered in the British Crown Dependencies. These structures allow lawyers, bankers and other professionals to protect their wealthy and powerful clients' cash from tax officials or hide their dealings behind a veil of secrecy.
Naomi Hirst, Senior Anti-Corruption Campaigner at Global Witness, said:
“We’re pleased that the UK’s Crown Dependencies have today voluntarily made this important pledge that, if followed through, will begin to reverse the trend of these jurisdictions playing central roles as global tax havens. The proof will of course be in the pudding - we have some concerns over the timeframe and that the details could leave plenty of room to manoeuvre.”
“This positive move shows that we are finally seeing years of campaigning, by civil society and Parliamentarians, take effect; transparency is the new norm. The era of secrecy is a thing of the past and other tax havens must now make their own moves to bring the real people behind anonymously-owned companies out of the shadows. Any state failing to do so risks being left behind.”
“There is no doubt that this move represents a big step in the right direction in the fight against dirty money and we look forward to seeing fully open and public registers being put into practice in the UK’s Crown Dependencies earlier than the current unambitious timeframe.”
This commitment from the UK’s Crown Dependencies follows similar action in the UK’s Overseas Territories, as well as the first steps towards beneficial ownership transparency in the US. Just last week a Corporate Transparency Act, that includes a company ownership register, was passed at the committee level in the House of Representatives.
- Recent blog from Naomi Hirst on the need for corporate transparency in the British Crown Dependencies https://www.globalwitness.org/it/blog/cleaning-up-closer-to-home-why-the-crown-dependencies-need-to-go-public/
Cleaning up closer to home – why the Crown Dependencies need to go public
Ministers from the Overseas Territories will be meeting with the Foreign Office to discuss the creation of public registers of the real owners of anonymous companies.
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The UK government should require its Crown Dependencies to bring in public registers of company owners to match reforms in its Overseas Territories.
The Paradise Papers
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