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TI-UK urges speed and clarity as Crown Dependencies commit to make company ownership info public

19/06/2019, London Transparency International UK (TI-UK) has welcomed a commitment by the British Crown Dependencies to adopt public registers revealing the true owners of companies registered in these jurisdictions. But the Crown Dependencies must ensure these registers are fully open, accessible and implemented at the earliest possible opportunity if they are to be considered global leaders in the fight against financial crime.

The Crown Dependencies – Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man – do not currently publish information about the real owners of companies incorporated there. This secrecy has been used by corrupt individuals to hide and launder the proceeds of their crimes: documents seen by TI-UK relating to the UK’s first Unexplained Wealth Order show repeated use of Guernsey companies to mask the true ownership of UK property purchased with suspicious funds.

Today’s announcement sets out a roadmap which will eventually lead to the Crown Dependencies introducing public beneficial ownership registers – a measure TI-UK along with wider civil society and a cross-party group in Parliament has been calling for since 2013.

But these plans leave out a firm date by which these registers will be open to public scrutiny, and lack detail on what form these registers will take.

Duncan Hames, Director of Policy at Transparency International UK, said:

We welcome this decision by the Crown Dependencies to acknowledge the place transparency has in the fight against illicit wealth. The secrecy made possible by laws in Britain’s Crown Dependencies has allowed corrupt individuals to steal from their people and enjoy the proceeds of these crimes – often with impunity.

When it comes to ensuring these registers become an effective tool to tackle money laundering, the devil will be in the detail. There is currently a lack of clarity as to when they will become public and what form they will take when they do so. If the British Crown Dependencies truly want to show global leadership, they will need to accelerate these plans to be among those at the forefront of the fight against financial crime, rather than following some years behind in the footsteps of EU Member States.

It is therefore important that this historic announcement is followed by swift action to implement public, free to use registers with open, accurate data. Doing so would be a pivotal moment in the global fight against the damage caused by financial secrecy.

This announcement comes on the heels of a cross-party amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill paved the way for public registers of beneficial ownership in Britain’s Overseas Territories.

If properly implemented in both Britain’s Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, public registers would remove the shroud of secrecy which allows corrupt individuals to move and hide their ill-gotten gains.



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Read 183 times Last modified on Wednesday, 19 June 2019 09:52

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