I am writing to update you on the progress of the Criminal
Finances Bill through the UK Parliament, which includes amendments
concerning the creation of public registers in the UK's Crown
Dependencies and Overseas Territories.
Although both amendments were withdrawn during the House of
Lords debate on Monday, this stage is often used to establish key
issues, and we will be monitoring the next stage of the bill,
scheduled for Tuesday 25 April, when the amendments are more likely
to be pushed.
The amendments to the Criminial Finances Bill would force
Overseas Territories to establish public registers by 2019 and
would require the UK Government to report on the progress that
Jersey and the other Crown Dependencies had made by the end of next
Since 1989, information on the ultimate beneficial owners of
every company registered in Jersey has been captured. However, that
information has only ever been accessible by regulatory
authorities, not to the public at large.
Jersey Finance submitted a paper to peers in which we set out
our arguments against a public register. This, and the efforts of
other lobbyists, appeared to have some effect.
During Monday's debate, peers cited Jersey as one of the
jurisdictions with high regulatory standards, and noted the
importance of the verification of data and the need for a level
playing field globally.
The Government, represented by Baroness Williams, expressed
opposition to forcing the Crown Dependencies and Overseas
Territories (CDOTs) to adopt public registers unless it became a
global standard. She also noted the high standards in the CDOTs,
which would "be significantly ahead of the global
standards" from June and that existing commitments were
"moving the standard in the right direction". She
said that the best way to advance standards in the CDOTs was
through cooperation and consensus: both by persuading the CDOTs and
by persuading international standard-setters. She also noted
that the Government was opposed to adopting differing standards in
the Overseas Territories compared to the Crown Dependencies and
would aim for them to move together, but only as and when a global
standard had emerged.
In the event of the amendment being passed requiring the UK
Government to publish a report of the progress of Crown
Dependencies there is evidence, then, that Jersey's
position as a well-regulated jurisdiction would be recognised.
The Lords also debated an amendment that would establish a
register of overseas companies owning real estate in the UK. This
was also not moved as the UK Government has already committed to
creating such a register, albeit on an unknown timescale.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
has launched a consultation into real estate ownership, to which
Jersey Finance will be responding.
We will, of course, continue to monitor and update you on these
Now that the United Kingdom has served notice to leave the European Union under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, managers of offshore funds have a clearer timetable for when Brexit will happen, with the UK scheduled to leave the EU in March 2019.
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