The beneficial ownership of Guernsey companies is set to be made publicly accessible in the next few years.
In a joint announcement with Jersey and the Isle of Man, the States of Guernsey has today revealed a staged approach to further improving our transparency and accessibility.
It will culminate in the beneficial ownership data of Guernsey companies becoming publicly accessible, unless there are "legitimate constraints" against doing so.
Detailed proposals of how to establish public access to beneficial ownership data will be brought before government by January 2023 at the latest.
“Guernsey has stated repeatedly that we would move to a public register of beneficial ownership as that becomes an international norm,” said Policy & Resources President Gavin St Pier.
“We are publishing a detailed action plan to demonstrate how Guernsey will respond to global developments in regard to beneficial ownership over the next couple of years. It will also help understanding of our commitments and approach.
“The action plan also reinforces our message that it is for Guernsey to determine its own policy position. We will never compromise the high standard of our register, which is populated by verified up to date data, by the adoption of an inferior model. Our action plan will ensure that our register and corporate regulation continues to set a standard for larger jurisdictions to follow.”
In the absence of a global standard, Deputy St Pier (pictured) said the 5th EU Anti-money Laundering Directive is the closest thing out there currently to a "level playing field" for proving access to beneficial ownership data.
As a third country to the EU, he said Guernsey will get to see how that directive is turned into international law and let that inform Guernsey's proposals.
How the staged approach will work
In 2019/2020, our government will develop the necessary technical and legal infrastructure to access to beneficial ownership information held on Guernsey’s registers without any restriction for designated authorities and Financial Intelligence Units.
Before the end of 2022, Guernsey will allow access to our central register to relevant businesses for due diligence purposes.
And by January 2023, government will produce proposals on how to make beneficial ownership data accessible to the public, mindful of any legitimate constraints on doing so.
Guernsey and the other Crown Dependencies have previously faced challenges from UK MPs such as Andrew Mitchell, pictured, over our beneficial ownership registers.
“The report to Guernsey’s parliament will include legislative proposals to establish public access to categories of beneficial ownership information held in Guernsey’s central BOI register,” the action plan reports. “The timetable for bringing this legislation into force will be determined by the global best practice at the time. The development of this best practice will include improvement of verification arrangements in the EU and elsewhere. Guernsey stands ready to assist those countries develop verification arrangements in line with our own standards.”
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