UK public registry of company ownership: secrecy jurisdiction reactions

Following the announcement of more details regarding the UK’s proposed public registry of beneficial ownership, David Cameron has recently written to the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies on the issue.

Predictably, the reaction in both Cayman and Jersey – the two largest secrecy jurisdictions with links to the UK – has been negative.

Just after the details were announced, Compass Cayman cited the International Financial Centres Forum, an offshore lobby group, saying that the planned public registry “will damage the U.K. business environment” unless it were universally applied.

The local Chamber of Commerce and Law Society also weighed in against the UK plans, citing similar reasons as well as privacy concerns.

Cayman’s consultation on a public register closed earlier this year, however “no decision on its implementation has been made yet”.

In Jersey, meanwhile, the CEO of Jersey Finance last Friday wrote that “research recently conducted by Jersey Finance indicates that a public registry will put hundreds of billions of UK FDI at risk” as it “will deter significant amounts of investment into the UK which will instead find its way to the US, Hong Kong, and Singapore where there are no such disclosure requirements of a public nature nor are there likely to be.”

He also said that “the public registry initiative has come from the Aid Agencies who appear to be exerting significant influence over the No 10 Agenda.”

Jersey’s public consultation closes on Wednesday: Avaaz is running an online petition inviting people to respond with the headline “Give tax thieves nowhere to hide”.

Finally in Guernsey the government is “watching developments” and “is likely to consult the financial services sector later this year”.

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One thought on “UK public registry of company ownership: secrecy jurisdiction reactions

  1. My response to your Africa coverage prompted me to look at this item. I am intrigued by your description of Jersey as a secrecy jurisdiction. We have no secrecy laws but we do take clients legitimate rights to data protection seriously through compliant confidentiality. My understanding is that we currently meet all international standards on transparency as specified by the G20 and OECD.

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