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Guernsey responds to Queen's Speech; seeks level playing field on beneficial ownership

05 June 2014

Guernsey continues to seek a global level playing field on beneficial ownership, according to Fiona Le Poidevin, the Chief Executive of Guernsey Finance - the promotional agency for the Island's finance industry.

She was speaking after yesterday's Queen's Speech where it was announced that the UK Government is set to introduce a bill which will establish a central public register of beneficial ownership.

Miss Le Poidevin said: "The UK Government has been speaking about some kind of register of beneficial ownership for a little while now and so whilst this announcement is not a surprise, it is nevertheless a very interesting development.

"In Guernsey, we will continue to monitor the precise details of the situation and assess how it develops in light of the fact that both the EU and the US are proposing their own versions, with variation on the types of entities covered and who has access to the information. For example, the UK and EU are proposing public registers whereas the US is considering a register which can only be accessed by certain relevant authorities.

"The European model has already raised concerns among potential clients around the world who, quite legitimately, want their affairs to remain confidential. Interest groups in the UK have also expressed their fears that a public register might damage business prospects, pose a security issue, raise questions about data privacy and have human rights implications.

"Guernsey already regulates its corporate service providers who are required to keep records on beneficial ownership and so we believe that we are in many ways ahead of the curve. We welcome the moves of other jurisdictions to enhance their regimes but we and other like-minded territories believe that the most effective route forward is for the development of a truly global level playing field on beneficial ownership.

"We will watch with interest the progress of all international proposals and continue to review our action plan on beneficial ownership, which was published in June last year, in this context."

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