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Fiona Le Poidevin, chief executive of Guernsey Finance

Private clients enquire about migrating foundations to Guernsey


A number of private clients have enquired about migrating existing foundations to Guernsey, according to practitioners in the island.

Guernsey’s foundations legislation was approved locally at the end of July and is now awaiting Royal Assent from the Privy Council, which is  expected either late this year or early in 2013.

Fiona Le Poidevin (pictured), chief executive of Guernsey Finance, says: “What I am hearing from a number of local practitioners is that they have had inquiries from clients who have foundations currently domiciled in other jurisdictions but they are now considering the migration of these to Guernsey once the legislation is enacted. This is principally due to the specific provisions of the new law but also due to the heritage we have in providing trust and corporate services as well as, of course, our reputation for being a well regulated and tax transparent international finance centre.

“We do not necessarily expect a flurry of activity, with huge numbers of new foundations being established but we are looking at quality and not just quantity. Indeed, we believe that our expertise in servicing private clients means that we are especially well placed to administer complex structures and in particular, where they are for philanthropic purposes. Obviously, we are not saying that a foundation, as opposed to a trust, is always the right option or that a Guernsey foundation is always going to be the most appropriate route but we believe that it does offer some important advantages over others already in the market.”

Guernsey Finance, the international promotional agency for the island’s finance industry, held a launch event for the new law at the British Museum in London last month. The event was attended by 120 delegates, including the leading legal and tax advisers from London’s private client industry.

Chris Moorcroft, key clients team, Barclays Wealth Advisory, says: “I came along primarily to get the view of some well-informed people on the differences between foundations and trusts. I agree with some of the comments made about ‘qualified member’ and the fact that Guernsey does not require one. There are times when you want the flexibility of a foundation to take on assets that you wouldn’t normally put into a trust, but previously the requirement for a qualified member prevented us. That is a big plus for Guernsey foundations.”

Panellists for the event were Richard Pease of Lenz & Staehelin, Elizabeth Henson from PwC and Gavin Ferguson of Appleby, while Filippo Noseda of Withers gave his thoughts on the new law via a pre-recorded video commentary. Russell Clark of Carey Olsen moderated the session.

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