A high-profile debate took place yesterday in the UK House of Commons and considered a set of amendments to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill. This debate has brought the issue of beneficial ownership and public registers back into the spotlight.

The result of that debate was that the amendment with respect to the Overseas Territories was carried while the amendment tabled with respect to the Crown Dependencies was withdrawn. The withdrawal of the amendment which provided for UK domestic policy to be applied to the Crown Dependencies in respect of public registers has been welcomed by Jersey Finance, underlining the contention that the UK Parliament cannot and should not seek to legislate for the Crown Dependencies.

Geoff Cook, CEO Jersey Finance commented: “Jersey continues to remain absolutely aligned with the UK in terms of its commitment to combat money laundering and financial crime. We are confident that our verified central register of beneficial ownership, backed up by trust and company service provider licensing, is fully in line with international standards as set out by the FATF, MoneyVal and the OECD, and remains the best way of achieving continuing compliance with international standards. 

“While this outcome is a sensible and pragmatic result for the jurisdiction, the debate has given Jersey another opportunity to clarify its approach to managing and sharing beneficial ownership information.  Information on our central register, which is tried and tested for almost three decades, is available to the people who need that vital information and we are constantly working with law enforcement agencies and other relevant authorities to ensure they have everything they need. 

“We are pleased that our high standards and commitment to transparency have been recognised. Through our ongoing alignment with and adoption of all international standards, we are confident in our ability to fight financial crime while protecting the compliant confidentiality of our investors. We’re proud to have a rigorous checking process, and that means we’re one of the few jurisdictions that can have absolute certainty about its business practices, and who it works with – now, and in the future. We will continue to work closely with the UK and international regulatory bodies to ensure that we remain a first class-transparent centre of excellence.’