MPs determined on ownership register
TWO UK MPs campaigning for public registers of beneficial ownership to be implemented in the Channel Islands have said that they ‘remain committed’ to their cause.
Dame Margaret Hodge and former Tory party chief whip Andrew Mitchell, who are both pushing for the change, visited Jersey this week following earlier trips to Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
Following a vote on an amendment to a UK anti-money-laundering bill, a public register – which reveals who ultimately owns a company – will need to be implemented within British Overseas Territories by the end of 2020.
But the three Crown Dependencies were not included in the amendment. In June, Mr Mitchell said that the UK Parliament could force the move, something the dependencies disagree with constitutionally.
In a statement, Dame Margaret explained her and Mr Mitchell’s position.
‘On Monday, I travelled to Jersey with my colleague Andrew Mitchell MP. We shared cordial exchanges of views with representatives of the States of Jersey and of the financial services sector on the island,’ she said.
‘We both remain committed to our campaign for public registers of beneficial ownership in Jersey.
‘The whole of the UK family, including the Crown Dependencies, must have the same levels of financial transparency.’
Guernsey and Jersey currently have a closed list accessible to law enforcement and tax authorities.
Mr Mitchell said that closed registers were ineffective.
‘I am sure our visit will have been helpful in underlining the wider point that greater transparency and openness are essential if we are to tackle dirty money and illicit money flows and that closed-register access, while welcome, does not adequately deliver that,’ he said.
‘This is why the United Kingdom and the other 27 EU members are embracing open registers of ownership and the UK overseas territories are too.
‘Dame Margaret and I both returned from Jersey convinced that these points are very much in the minds of local policy makers.’
In recent weeks, Labour voted against new double taxation agreements between the UK and the Channel Islands because it argued the government had not used them as an opportunity to progress public registers.