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Guernsey 'Ahead Of The Curve' On Transparency

by Jason Gorringe, Lowtax.net, London
07 April, 2016

Guernsey has responded to media reports following the Panama papers leak, noting the high standards that are in place in Guernsey and voicing concerns about some media reports' portrayal of finance centers like Guernsey.

In the wake of the leak of 11.5 million files from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, Guernsey Finance Chairman Lyndon Trott said that the recent media coverage illustrates the fact that there remains plenty of misunderstanding about the standards that jurisdictions such as Guernsey already work to. He said that Guernsey would welcome moves to improve transparency across the global financial services industry.

He noted that "Guernsey became one of the first jurisdictions to regulate trust and company service providers and this is something which still does not happen in many territories around the world today, including the UK."

"In addition, Guernsey has had legislation in place since 2000 that obliges all beneficial owners of Guernsey companies and other legal persons to be properly identified and recorded by regulated corporate service providers and is one of only a handful of jurisdictions that have such measures in place. We do not disclose this information publicly because we value client confidentiality, but this information can be accessed in a timely manner by the appropriate regulatory authorities and law enforcement agencies when requested."

Guernsey's Commerce and Employment Minister, Kevin Stewart, said: "...the leaks are interesting as they establish the importance of the beneficial ownership debate, ahead of the UK-hosted summit in May, to which Guernsey representatives will be invited. What is also interesting is the automatic assumption of some that somehow Guernsey is part of the problem, which is demonstrably not the case."

"We are not standing still and being complacent. Law enforcement and tax authorities in Guernsey share information with their counterparts in the UK and other jurisdictions and the effectiveness of that has been documented by UK authorities as well as independent organizations such as the OECD and the IMF. People should remember that there is a difference between privacy and secrecy. Guernsey is a jurisdiction that can provide privacy and confidentiality, but the fact that we work with other authorities and exchange information means we are not a secrecy jurisdiction – a very important distinction."

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