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Crown Dependencies To Review Beneficial Ownership Transparency

by Mike Godfrey, Lowtax.net, Washington
01 May, 2014

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron has written to the Crown Dependencies – Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man – to discuss measures to improve the availability of information regarding the beneficial ownership of companies.

Cameron's letter stresses the importance of creating an accurate central registry on the beneficial ownership of companies, as well as a system to automatically exchange tax information.

In his letter to Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Jersey, Gibraltar, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands, Cameron expressed rare support for offshore financial centers, stating: "I want to see the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies flourish, and I respect your right to be lower tax jurisdictions. I believe passionately in lower taxes as a vital driver of growth and prosperity for all."

The letter follows the Action Plan published in June 2013 at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland and the release of UK government recommendations on further tax transparency efforts last week. The UK has proposed that territories should establish a publicly accessible central registry of beneficial ownership information after discussing the measure during a consultation on corporate transparency issues.

The Isle of Man's Chief Minister, Allan Bell, said: "The Isle of Man has a robust regime in place to ensure the identification of the beneficial ownership of companies and the availability of this information to the authorities. We have already made an international commitment to review the regime, and now that the UK Government has clarified its proposed way forward on beneficial ownership, it is logical to include that model as one of the options in our review. The outcome of the exercise has to be appropriate for the Isle of Man, of course, which is why we will be engaging in full consultation with the business community before reaching any conclusions."

The Channel Islands already record information on the beneficial ownership of companies. Jersey's Chief Minister, Ian Gorst, said: "Once we know the outcome of our consultation, we will be in a position to respond to the Prime Minister's letter. In doing so, we will be considering how the approaches adopted by the UK Government and other G8/G20 members to enhancing transparency on beneficial ownership compare with what is able to be achieved with our own approach."

The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Government has also recently invited comments on proposals to introduce a central register showing the ultimate ownership of offshore companies, and is considering whether this information should be made publicly available.

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