‘Follow our lead on ownership’ challenge
THE UK has been urged to follow Guernsey’s lead on registers of beneficial ownership – after research found information on the island’s register was 100% verified.
Policy & Resources president Gavin St Pier welcomed the research, contrasting it with the ‘laughable system of self-reporting’ in the UK.
He also challenged Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who has led a campaign to force public registers of beneficial ownership on the Crown Dependencies, declaring that the UK should follow Guernsey’s lead.
An estimated 3,000 data sets were received and analysed by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission – including from a questionnaire sent to all full and personal fiduciary licensees – as part of a thematic review of beneficial ownership of Guernsey and Alderney legal persons managed or administered by fiduciary licensees.
Beneficial ownership records of almost 400 Guernsey and Alderney legal persons were examined during on-site visits assessing the accuracy of these fiduciary licensees’ beneficial ownership records and of the information submitted to the register of beneficial ownership.
Further, a sample of these cases was cross-checked by the commission with records held on the register of beneficial ownership.
In all files reviewed by the GFSC, all fiduciary licensees had accurately identified and verified the beneficial owner of the legal person in compliance with their responsibilities under anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism regulations.
Posting on Twitter, Deputy St Pier said: ‘NB 100% compliance in identification/verification of beneficial ownership details. I’m unsurprised but delighted this has been evidenced to be the case.’
It was a ‘contrast to the woeful records retained by UK’s Companies House relying [on] a laughable system of self-reporting’, he added.
He also tweeted Dame Margaret and campaign groups Transparency International UK and Global Witness on the issue. ‘Guernsey has more effective model: 100% compliance in identification/verification of beneficial ownership details because all company service providers are regulated (from 2001.) UK should follow our lead; repeatedly offered to share experience…’
The GFSC said the evidence demonstrated effective controls to ensure that accurate and up-to-date beneficial ownership information was available and accessible to competent authorities.
It also said that the results reflected the strong framework in the bailiwick for AML and CFT, which has long required financial firms including fiduciary licensees to accurately identify their clients, including beneficial owners, and be subject to long-standing supervision by the commission.
The findings follow on from the endorsement of the effectiveness of the framework by Moneyval in its report of the evaluation of Guernsey issued in January 2016 and by the OECD Global Forum in its review last year.