Almost 100,000 people inhabit Jersey’s offshore banking island and they are awaiting possible reforms which could effectively destroy the livelihood’s of some 20,000 white-collar workers within the local banking industry. Jersey has been labelled a “secrecy jurisdiction” by the IMF.
The 45 square mile island just off the coast of France albeit not part of the United Kingdom stills retains its British identity in much the same way as the Falkland Islands; is preparing to do battle with critics who argue that no legally binding agreements by any developing nation with regard to information sharing agreements with the States of Jersey exist.
Geoff Cook, Jersey’s Finance Chief Executive sounding much like a football manager accused of taking a bung, stated “We are not a tax haven. We do not have banking secrecy. We are a cooperative, transparent, well-regulated centre. We are tested by outside organisations and we have been found not wanting. If anybody thinks otherwise let them name names, bring evidence and I will happily notify the authorities.”
So, what’s got him so riled..?
Angola’s state owned oil rich company lost £1bn which found its way through Jersey’s system.
A similar pattern emerged with the ‘slush fund’ from BAE’s arms deal.
G20 leaders are hoping to put in place a worldwide multi-lateral information exchange treaty.
One lawyer was reported to have said that the goal in Jersey was to hide as much money as possible.
Jersey’s capital, St Helier administers funds to the tune of some £241bn and as of December £206bn was deposited there.
If as suggested, widespread corruption and tax evasion remain undetected then the future for Jersey’s finance and accountancy sector seem fragile to say the least and the island may very well lose its lucrative system of taxation.