Crown dependencies put plans for public beneficial ownership register on hold

The crown dependencies of the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey have put on hold their plans to open up their beneficial ownership registries to the public.

The three territories, that are not part of the UK but are self-governing possessions of the British Crown, had pledged in 2019 to reduce company secrecy and shed their reputation in some quarters for providing anonymity to the real people behind anonymously-owned companies incorporated in these tax havens.

EU AML directive invalid

The move follows the decision in November of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that the provision in the European Union’s (EU’s) 2015 anti-money laundering (AML) directive whereby the information on the beneficial ownership of companies incorporated within the territory of member states is accessible in all cases to any member of the general public is invalid (Trade-based Financial Crime, 30 November 2022).

In 2019, the crown dependencies, that were neither member states nor associate members of the EU when the UK was a member of the EU, made a public commitment to open up registers of beneficial ownership of companies to the public.

But in a joint statement they say the recent judgment of the ECJ “impacts considerations in the crown dependencies around implementing the public commitment in line with consideration of factors around data protection and human rights.”

Obliged entities

They stress that they have all committed to provide access to obliged entities for the purpose of conducting customer due diligence by the end of 2022 and have therefore consulted on the position and produced policy positions.

“However, in light of this [ECJ] judgment, implementation of this legislation will be delayed for a short period to enable consideration of its impact and obtain specialist legal advice, this is expected to be completed in early 2023,” according to the statement.

Taking advice

Subject to that advice, the statement says the territories intend to adopt legislation “as soon as possible after this time.”

“In respect of extending access beyond obliged entities, we intend to obtain expert legal advice on all relevant issues and, in due course, intend to review the public commitment in line with that advice and any recent development of international best practice,” the statement concludes.

The Statement of the three Crown Dependencies concerning access to Registers of beneficial ownership of companies can be found here.



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