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Jersey sets out new beneficial ownership register scheme

Thursday, 18 June, 2020

The Jersey government has tabled a draft Bill establishing a new central register of beneficial owners, controllers and significant persons.

The draft Financial Services (Disclosure and Provision of Information) (Jersey) Law 2020, now under consideration by parliament, addresses a report published by the  anti-money laundering monitoring body MONEYVAL in 2016, regarding Jersey's compliance with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations. Although the report gave Jersey a generally favourable assessment, MONEYVAL identified that the jurisdiction needed some additional work in relation to FATF Recommendation 24 on beneficial ownership of legal persons.

The Jersey Financial Services Commission subsequently recommended the jurisdiction enact new company registry legislation and enhance its beneficial ownership and control requirements and additional registers.

The new beneficial ownership register is intended to address this point, by supporting the development of a fully digital companies registry, some of which will be open for public inspection.

A consultation has already taken place on the principles, and law firms and various professional organisations are now reviewing the draft. James Willmott, Partner at law firm Carey Olsen Jersey, said it was providing input to ensure that, to the extent the Bill does change the position rather than simply pull what Jersey already does into one place, it does not have any unintended consequences. Jersey already has a central register of beneficial owners and controllers of entities, so the initial impact of the new law will be relatively minimal, he says.

Companies, foundations, LLCs, LLPs, and incorporated and separate limited partnerships will be in the law's scope, but limited partnerships will not. The information contained on the central register will extend to all 'significant persons' including company directors and nominee shareholders. Certain information gathering that is already mandatory under Jersey law will be moved to sit within the new law.

The central register will be split into a public and a private section, so that some information such as company directors' details can be made publicly available, while beneficial ownership remains private.

Willmott hopes the new law will be finalised and come into force in the last quarter of 2020. Information on significant persons – at least that on company directors – is likely to become publicly available soon after enactment, although individuals can apply for their details to be protected. Beneficial ownership information will remain private until international consensus is reached on the level and type of information that should be disclosed.