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March 5, 2019updated 15 Mar 2019 11:05am

UK government defers legislation on public registration of assets in Crown Dependencies

By Jamie Crawley

The Crown Dependencies have praised the UK government for deferring legislation that, they claim, would undermine the basis of their relationship with the United Kingdom.

More than 40 MPs had hoped to amend the Financial Services Bill requiring Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man to have public registers of company beneficial ownership.

If successful, the Crown Dependencies would have been forced to publish public ownership records, revealing who owns assets on the islands, by the end of 2020.

The group of MPs was led by the Conservative Andrew Mitchell and Dame Margaret Hodge of Labour. Both have criticised the government’s move, Mitchell telling the BBC: “This amendment is an important continuation of the British G8 agenda on transparency and openness to combat money laundering and tax evasion.”

Dame Margaret tweeted, describing public registers as “the next big step for tackling money laundering and tax evasion”, and described the government’s delay as “outrageous”, suggesting that the amendment would have been approved comfortably.

Lyndon Trott, chairman of Guernsey Finance and deputy chief minister of the States of Guernsey, said: “We are pleased that the UK Government has made this sensible decision, but are fully aware that although our constitutional position is clear and has been respected today, it obviously needs to be better understood by MPs, as does our exemplary record on tax transparency.

“It is misguided as our track record on tackling money laundering and financial crime have been rightly lauded by regulators, and our standards of regulation and private register of beneficial ownership works.

“It is wrong because the move was counter to the centuries-old relationship between the UK and the Crown Dependencies, and that is not helpful at all.

“We cannot allow anything to undermine our position of stability and security in self-government and in the delivery of financial services.”

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