In a letter to a select committee, Jesse Norman MP, financial secretary to the Treasury, also said that Westminster would respect the ‘constitutional boundaries’ of the three islands, which also include Guernsey and the Isle of Man, and work with them as part of a global drive towards greater company-ownership transparency. The issue has proved thorny for the three islands in recent years, after UK MPs threatened in 2018 to pass legislation that would override their autonomy and force them to make public details of ultimate beneficial owners held on their company registers.
Currently, such information is private and shared with other jurisdictions on a request basis.
The governments of the Dependencies, which have their own parliaments, heavily disputed the UK’s approach at the time, claiming it was unconstitutional, but eventually agreed to a timetable of moving towards greater corporate transparency by 2023, in line with global standards.
Mr Norman’s letter, written to the Commons Treasury Select Committee, says that Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are expected to have appropriate legislation ready within two years.
It says: ‘All of the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories with financial centres already share confidential information on company beneficial ownership and tax information with UK law enforcement bodies in real time under the Exchange of Notes Arrangements; and all have now agreed to introduce publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership.
‘The government expects all OTs to have publicly accessible registers of company beneficial ownership, and Crown Dependencies to have tabled legislation to have them, by the end of 2023, in line with the government’s call for all countries to make public registers a global norm by 2023.’