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Press Release - 29 May 2002

Jersey Proposals to Stengthen Company Registration Rules

Commission confirms strong stand with proposed new measures

New proposals to streamline and extend Jersey's powers to obtain information on beneficial owners and activities of Jersey companies have been put to the Island's finance industry in a consultation document issued by the Jersey Financial Services Commission.

The new proposals, if adopted, would strengthen the powers the Commission currently has to protect the Island's reputation and stop Jersey companies being abused.

Jersey's current arrangements have already been used as a model by an OECD report designed to identify ways of preventing the misuse of companies. The proposed measures would make Jersey's arrangements more transparent and effective.

Taken together with the existing arrangements, the result of the proposed new measures would be that:

All Jersey companies would, as now have to file details of a company's ultimate individual beneficial owner with the Commission, where the information would be held in confidence but would be available, if needed (and subject to proper safeguards) to assist in investigations.

All changes to beneficial ownership information would have to be filed with the Commission.

All Jersey companies would continue, as now, to file precise details of their proposed activities with the Commission. The Commission will continue to refuse to approve certain "sensitive" activities (such as arms dealing or internet gambling) and will require evidence of appropriate competence for certain kinds of companies (such as medical suppliers).

Jersey companies would have to confirm, on their annual returns (in a confidential section) that they have not started to engage in sensitive activities (or changed from one sensitive activity to another) and that they have not changed their beneficial owner.

The process for disseminating information on the sensitivity activity policy would become more transparent.

The changes to the annual returns (if adopted) will come into place at the same time as the move to electronic filing of such returns - designed to make the process more transparent and efficient.

Another key feature of the proposed changes would be to bring the collection and updating of information within the remit of a single piece of legislation governing the registration of each entity. The proposed streamlining of what is currently a complex process would significantly increase transparency and help eliminate potential loopholes - particularly in respect of preventing companies undertaking 'sensitive activities' such as arms dealing.

Richard Pratt, Director General of the Jersey Financial Services Commission, said today: "The Commission already has extensive powers to establish who is behind Jersey companies and to ensure they do not carry out undesirable activities. These new proposals, if adopted, will reinforce those powers, put them on a more secure and more transparent legal footing and make them more effective and extensive. They will make life more difficult for those who would try to use companies to abuse the financial system. They are further evidence of our commitment to protect the Island's reputation and remain at the forefront of the world's well-regulated financial centres. However before implementing any changes we will be engaging in a full and effective consultation with all interested parties"

The consultation paper on Jersey Companies can be viewed by clicking here.

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