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Public Register Debate Pulled

The British government has pulled a parliamentary debate that could have forced Jersey to make company ownership information public.

The Chief Minister has been at Westminister today with his counterparts from Guernsey and Isle of Man to argue against MPs imposing public registers of beneficial ownership on the Crown Dependencies.

It was due to be discussed this afternoon.

A joint statement by the politicians called the attempt 'wholly unnecessary'.

More than 50 UK MPs supported the amendment to the Financial Services Bill - and have strongly criticised the debate not going ahead.

Jonathan Reynolds claims it's been 'nakedly been pulled to prevent the government being defeated'.

Speaking to Channel 103 earlier ahead of emergency talks, Senator John Le Fondré said he was feeling confident:

"We know we have a level of support and we know that people understand firstly our benefit to the United Kingdom, which is broadly around £5bn a year in tax terms, but also that people do recognise that constitutionally this doesn't work."

The Crown Dependencies have since released a joint statement welcoming the delay, and saying they want to proceed in a way that means the UK doesn't decide domestic laws without the islands' consent.

The governments say postponing the debate gives time for 'meaningful engagement' with UK ministers, and that they remain 'committed' to observing the highest standards of financial services regulation and transparency:

"This deferral provides the opportunity for meaningful engagement with UK Ministers and parliamentarians on the matter of public registers of beneficial ownership, in a way that does not contravene the well-established constitutional relationships between our Islands and the Crown.

"In particular, we want to move forward in a way that does not breach the rule that the United Kingdom does not legislate for the Crown Dependencies on domestic matters without our consent.

"We share a common policy aim with the United Kingdom of preventing international financial systems being used for criminal activity.

"We are committed to exchanging adequate, accurate and current information on beneficial ownership to combat tax evasion, money laundering and corruption. Our track records on this matter, including the Exchange of Notes agreement we entered into with the United Kingdom in 2016, demonstrates that commitment.

"We are determined to work with the UK Government, the OECD and FATF in order to develop an effective global standard that addresses the global problems of financial crime and tax evasion."


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