Bulletin 41

Printable Version

BRITISH OVERSEAS TERRITORIES: Westminster MPs insist on open registries by 2020

MPs on the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee have urged the UK government to stick to the original date of December 2020 for the publication of public registers of beneficial ownership in each British Overseas Territory (OTs), as set by the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018. The committee’s report states that the issue is ‘a matter of national security’, while admitting that relations between the UK and the OTs have been under strain in recent years, and steps should be taken to strengthen the bonds between them.

MONEY LAUNDERING: FATF prepares risk-based approach guidance for professions

The international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is about to release three risk-based approach (RBA) guidance papers for public consultation, dealing respectively with lawyers, accountants and trust and company service providers. Final versions of the guidance will be adopted in June 2019. STEP co-chaired the RBA guidance working group.

SWITZERLAND: OECD Global Forum’s information exchange to be enacted in two years

The Swiss Federal Council has announced plans to amend the law requiring banks to automatically pass account information to other countries, as demanded by the OECD Global Forum’s peer review. The amendments should become law on 1 January 2021.

MIGRATION: EU Member States cannot tax departing citizen’s unrealised gains

In a preliminary ruling, the European Court of Justice has held that an EU Member State cannot impose an exit tax on the unrealised capital gains of an EU national’s share portfolio when he emigrates to Switzerland (Wachtler v Konstanz, ECJ C-581/17).

BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP: UK MPs try to force public registries on Crown Dependencies

A group of more than 50 UK MPs are attempting to add clauses to the Financial Services (Implementation of Legislation) Bill to force the Crown Dependencies (CDs) of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, as well as all British Overseas Territories, to create publicly available registers of company beneficial ownership. The CDs’ governments say the proposed amendments are ‘contrary to the established constitutional relationships’ between the UK and CDs and, if passed, would produce ‘inoperable legislation’. The government has suspended this evening’s scheduled debate on the Bill, because of the risk that the amendment would be carried.

UK: ‘Golden visa’ applicants must prove control of funds for two years

The UK’s Tier 1 (Investor) visa rules will change on 29 March to require proof that applicants have had control of the required GBP2 million for at least two years, or provide evidence of the source of the funds.

GIBRALTAR: UK makes concessions on tax residency post-Brexit

Spanish press reports say the UK has agreed to amend tax residency criteria for Gibraltar businesses, requiring them to register their tax residency in Spain and pay 25 per cent corporate tax there, if they receive most of their income from activities on Spanish territory. Grandfathering provisions will be made for businesses registered in Gibraltar before November 2018, while Spain will agree not to blacklist Gibraltar as a low-tax jurisdiction. New day-counting residence criteria will also apply to people currently considered tax residents in Gibraltar.

UK ENFORCEMENT: Revised offshore compliance strategy aims at mistakes and avoidance

The government has issued a new strategy paper, No Safe Havens 2019, on offshore tax enforcement; establishing new objectives and summarising the ‘substantial progress’ in tackling offshore non-compliance since the last strategy in 2014. It will now address customers who pay too little offshore tax for reasons other than deliberate evasion, such as making mistakes or attempting to avoid tax by exploiting the rules.

Source: STEP

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