Spotlight On...Beneficial Ownership - Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill

Following a high-profile debate on Tuesday 1 May 2018 the UK House of Commons passed a set of amendments to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill that brought the issue of beneficial owners of companies and public registers back into the spotlight.

Reflecting on this, Geoff Cook published a blog entitled Beneficial Ownership Back in the Spotlight 

See also our media release issued on Wednesday 2 May 2018.

Archived material on Beneficial Ownership

Friday 6 May 2016

In order to combat tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing, it is important to know the individual who is ultimately behind every company – the beneficial owner.

International standards on collecting information on the beneficial owners are improving, but Jersey is a world-leader.

  • Jersey is one of only a few jurisdictions with an effective, fit-for-purpose central register of company beneficial ownership
  • The information contained within Jersey’s register is subject to strict and robust validation by regulated professionals
  • The register, together with other legal and regulatory requirements, enables Jersey to provide law enforcement and tax authorities with ‘adequate, accurate and timely’ data on the beneficial ownership of Jersey companies
  • Jersey’s model is in line with the international standards of the FATF Recommendations

Jersey has collected information about the beneficial owners of companies since 1989. You can find out more by downloading The Jersey Model factsheet.

Transparency and public registries

While the information in Jersey’s registry is available to tax and law enforcement authorities, it is not public. You can find out why Jersey has taken this approach – and why Jersey thinks a public registry may not be effective in combatting financial crime, in these factsheets:

Jason Sharman: Solving the Beneficial Ownership Conundrum: Central Registries and Licenced Intermediaries

In 2015 Jersey Finance commissioned Professor Jason Sharman to analyse the effectiveness of central registries and licenced intermediaries in combatting financial crime. You can download his paper, and see the speech that he presented on it:

Further academic research

In March 2017, the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway published the working paper: "Beneficial openness? Weighing the costs and benefits of financial transparency".

It examines two financial transparency measures: public registers of beneficial ownership and the mandatory publication of country-by-country reports, and considers alternative options for achieving the stated objectives of these measures.

The paper warns that using transparency as a means of combatting financial crime should not lead to particular mechanisms becoming so iconic that they become unquestioned goals in their own right, particularly where there are also privacy issues at stake. It suggests that there is a danger that transparency becomes a hamster wheel; more detailed and widespread disclosures can be obtained without necessarily getting any closer to the goal of more responsive public institutions, more effective markets, and stronger social contract between governments and their people.

Beneficial openness? Weighing the costs and benefits of financial transparency

MONEYVAL: independent endorsement of the Jersey model 

Jersey’s institutional, legislative and regulatory framework to deter money laundering and the financing of terrorism through financial institutions has been independently assessed by MONEYVAL - the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism. 

The latest MONEYVAL report on Jersey was published on 24 May 2016 and gave Jersey a very positive rating. 

It described Jersey as having a: “mature and sophisticated regime for tackling money laundering and the financing of terrorism”.

Read more about Jersey’s MONEYVAL assessment 2016.

Jersey Finance

Email the author: jersey@jerseyfinance.je

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