Guernsey plans firm foundations for wealth management

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Wealthy benefactors should have the option of setting up a foundation in Guernsey within a few months, if new laws are approved by the UK Privy Council.

The Guernsey government has already approved the law in principle and is embarking on a campaign to attract high net worth individuals, corporations and families to set up on the Channel Island.

Guernsey already manages thousands of trusts for overseas clients and sees foundations as another tool for offering wealth management services.

A foundation is a not-for-profit organisation supporting charitable works.

Foundations are often created with endowments—money set aside by individuals, families or corporations. Foundation trustees then make grants or run programs with income earned from investing the endowments.

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The donor often receives tax relief on the endowment.

Fiona Le Poidevin, chief executive of Guernsey Finance, the island’s trade body for financial institutions, said: “Guernsey was one of the first jurisdictions to introduce trust law and we want to develop that expertise and experience built up over many years by introducing new products.

“We will hold events to explore why it’s important to consider a foundation as well as a trust when adopting wealth structures because they may appeal more to some clients.

“In particular, the foundation structure is attractive to clients based in civil law jurisdictions in Europe and also further afield in the emerging markets of China, Russia and Latin America where the trust concept is less familiar than in common law countries such as the UK.”

Meanwhile, Guernsey’s chief minister Deputy Peter Harwood has confirmed that the Channel Island has no intention of severing ties as a crown dependency with Britain.

Questions about independence have been raised in Jersey and the Isle of Man, which are also crown dependencies, after British government criticism of tax management schemes.

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