Crown Dependencies move towards public registers of beneficial ownership

21 Jun 2019

On 19 June 2019, the joint Governments of the Crown Dependencies - Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man - announced a series of steps regarding each jurisdiction’s central register of beneficial ownership of companies to improve transparency and accessibility.

There has been a lot of press coverage over recent weeks and we thought we would provide a brief synopsis of the current implications for you.

The Crown Dependencies plan to move towards developing international standards in the coming years to align with the principles set out by the EU’s 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD).

Jersey’s central company register has been in existence for some 30 years and is populated with accurate, verified and up to date information. 5AMLD, which was passed in 2018 and is due to come into effect in January 2020, broadly calls for public access to this beneficial ownership information in addition to what is currently made available to any relevant government agency who has requested it.

Part of the 5AMLD cites that all member states must have ‘open’ registers by 2022 and that the EU is required to issue a report on how it is to be implemented. Jersey will review this report and set out their timeline for implementation.

The commitment announced sets out three clear stages as follows:

The interconnection of the Islands’ registers of beneficial ownership of companies with those within the EU for access by law enforcement authorities and Financial Intelligence Units;

Access for financial service business and certain other prescribed businesses for corporate due diligence purposes; then

Public access aligned to the approach taken in the EU Directive.

Christian Falle, Director, commenting on the Government of Jersey’s briefing to the finance industry, said:

“These proposals are dependent on EU Member states and the UK adopting similar levels of transparency and maintaining company beneficial ownership of a high standard, equivalent to that maintained by the Crown Dependencies.

It is not yet clear what level of data will be made available or how the register will work, although the search will need to be based on a specific company name to reveal the beneficial owners. It will also create interconnectivity between EU member state registers, subject to functionality.”

Mark Andrews, Director said:

"We pride ourselves on the Island of maintaining high standards of due diligence and Anti-Money Laundering regulation. Our register of beneficial ownership has for many years been superior to that of the UK and other EU states. This information is maintained by highly regulated service providers who are under a duty to ensure the information is both accurate and kept up to date.

While this information is not publicly available, it is accessible to Jersey enforcement authorities and ultimately by any law enforcement agency. Jersey has always been a cooperative jurisdiction and continues to be at the forefront of the transparency debate. Jersey reserves its right to enact such legislation so long as there is a level playing field across the EU.”

We will always monitor our industry to keep up to date with the latest information so if you have any questions, please speak to your usual contact here at Fairway Group.

Fairway Group is a registered business name of Fairway Trust Limited, Fairway Fund Services Limited and Fairway Pension Trustees Limited. Regulated by the Jersey Financial Services Commission ("JFSC").

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