Public register ‘not a huge shock to industry clients’
A PUBLIC REGISTER of beneficial ownership will not be a huge shock to finance industry clients, according to a Guernsey specialist.
The States last week announced plans for a public register and Trust Corporation International director Lydia Essa said: ‘Transparency is a feature of the global finance industry and clients are coming to terms with that, so this move won’t be a huge shock to anyone.
‘The phased transition that the States of Guernsey is proposing is helpful to industry and the Crown Dependencies’ commitment to creating a level playing field, in line with the EU, is especially encouraging.’
A trustee with more than 12 years’ experience as a trust laywer specialising in complex offshore asset holding structures, she added: ‘The practical guidance on the changes won’t be published for some time as each island’s government will need to vote on the detail of the legislation, but we’re certain that the eventual solution will be workable and practical and ultimately benefit local industry and our clients.’
Stuart Platt-Ransom, chief executive officer at Oak Group, a private client, corporate services and fund administration group with offices in Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man, said: ‘The current registers are not secret as they are available to the authorities if needed.
‘There were real and justifiable reasons why beneficial ownership registers were private. These structures and companies are ordinarily not private for tax-driven reasons, contrary to what the groups lobbying for this public register claim.
‘I think the real crux of this is quite simple. If and to the extent global protocol calls for this transparency, then that’s fine and just. However, our registers are populated accurately by licensed and regulated trust and company service providers. It’s a regulatory requirement to do this accurately. In the UK, for example, this is not the case.’
He added: ‘The Crown Dependencies are already ahead of the curve on transparency and comply with the latest international legislation and regulations. The standard that we are already held to is far greater than other jurisdictions.
‘The important thing is that the Crown Dependencies are on an equal footing to other jurisdictions, that is what is fair and just. There has to be an even playing field.’