A cross party group of MPs have submitted a new clause to amend the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 to ensure that the British Crown Dependencies of Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey, all introduce publicly accessible registers of the beneficial ownership of companies within their jurisdiction no later than 31 December 2020. The government is accused of trying to delay its proposed measures ahead of a no-deal Brexit.

Background

The economies of many of the UK's Overseas Territories rely heavily on income from financial services. The UK has been under pressure for many years to encourage reform to the transparency rules. Many MPs consider that public registers that show the details of the beneficial owners of companies registered in the Crown Dependencies are vital in the fight against money laundering and tax evasion. The disclosures made by the Panama Papers have revealed the scale of the issue.

In February 2018 Andrew Griffiths, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) confirmed that the government will establish a public register of beneficial owners of non-UK entities that own or buy UK property, or which participate in UK Government procurement.

In May 2018 a clause requiring the British Overseas Territories to establish public registers of beneficial ownership in 2020 was added to the new Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill with cross-party support and was accepted by the Government and was added to the Bill without a vote. 

Subsequently, the UK Foreign Office has announced that it would delay the introduction of the registers from 2020 until 2023.

This latest amendment requires:

"A draft Order in Council must be prepared requiring the government of any British Overseas Territory that has not introduced a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies within its jurisdiction to do so no later than 31 December 2020.

For the purpose of the detection, investigation or prevention of money laundering, the Secretary of State must provide all reasonable assistance to the governments

of the Crown Dependencies to enable each of those governments to establish a publicly accessible register of the beneficial ownership of companies registered

in that government’s jurisdiction.

An Order in Council must be made requiring the government of any Crown Dependency that has not introduced a publicly accessible register of beneficial

ownership of companies within their jurisdiction to do so by 31 December 2020."

 

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