Crown Dependencies: Companies

Home Office written question – answered at on 27 February 2024.

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Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Conservative, Romford

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the decision by (a) Guernsey, (b) Jersey and (c) the Isle of Man to withdraw the commitment to allow public access to registers of company beneficial ownership.

Photo of Thomas Tugendhat Thomas Tugendhat Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

A Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) on 19 December 2023 provided a comprehensive update on this issue (HCWS151).

Publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership are an essential tool for tackling illicit finance. That is why in 2016 the UK set up our own publicly accessible register of beneficial ownership, the People with Significant Control (PSCs) register, which was the first of its kind in the world. The UK Government is still committed to publicly accessible registers becoming the global norm, including in the Crown Dependencies (CDs) and Overseas Territories (OTs). Many other countries and jurisdictions around the world have joined us. We are still working with others to achieve this aim.

Regarding the 2022 CJEU judgment and other relevant rulings, the UK is satisfied with the lawfulness of our own publicly accessible registers and continues to believe that the CDs could legally implement public registers of their own. As set out in my WMS in December, according to Transparency International, currently 14 EU Member States allow public access to their beneficial ownership registers. Gibraltar has maintained a publicly accessible beneficial ownership register since 2020 and has not noted any negative economic impacts resulting from implementation of its public register.

On 13 December 2023, the CDs issued new public commitments on providing access to their beneficial ownership registers for obliged entities and those with a legitimate interest, including media and civil society organisations. While the Home Office broadly welcomed these commitments as a very significant step forward in beneficial ownership transparency, it is not the pace the UK Government expects, and the CDs have been urged to implement them as quickly as possible this year.

On 18 January 2024, the EU published proposals on their Sixth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (6AMLD), which the CDs stated in their public commitments will help inform the development of their own definitions of legitimate interest access. With this important development, and considering the time that has elapsed since their original 2019 commitments, and the importance these improvements will bring to the security of the UK and the wider British family, the Home Office is urging the CDs to make progress as quickly as possible this year.

The UK Government position remains that the CDs should be working towards publicly accessible registers in the longer term. Nevertheless, the Home Office looks forward to seeing these commitments on legitimate interest access being adopted by the appropriate CD parliaments. Parliament will wish to consider the CDs’ commitments and will closely monitor the situation.

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