24 February 2015
The Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, has sent the following letter to Ed Milliband MP:
"I am responding to your recent statement to the media that you have written to leaders in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, as well as the UK Overseas Territories, about tax transparency and disclosure.
As Jersey Ministers and officials have reiterated many times in past discussions with the Labour shadow team, and as I discussed with you in Glasgow, the Island is fully committed to compliance with international standards of financial regulation, anti-money laundering, transparency and information exchange.
Although Jersey is largely autonomous from the United Kingdom, the Island has enjoyed a close and mutually beneficial relationship with successive UK Governments for many years, working collaboratively to fight financial crime and raise international standards. In addition, we have worked co-operatively with the UK government in recent years to deal with aggressive tax avoidance practices.
It was, therefore, with disappointment that I read your statement in press reports over the weekend.
I am therefore taking this opportunity to restate Jersey’s position regarding international information exchange, a central registry of beneficial ownership, and our other, extensive efforts to tackle financial crime:
- Jersey is one of only a few jurisdictions with an effective, fit-for-purpose central registry of beneficial ownership already in place. The information contained within the register is subject to strict and robust validation, enabling Jersey to provide law enforcement and tax authorities with comprehensive, accurate and timely data. The register provides crucial information to authorities, ensuring they have the material they need to fight tax evasion, whilst also protecting the personal financial information of individuals and businesses.
- most, if not all, G20, OECD and EU members have only a central register of legal ownership and do not have a central register of beneficial ownership as Jersey has. In addition, it would require an agreed change in international standards to require public registries of beneficial ownership.
- Jersey is a long-standing participant in global efforts to increase cooperation in tax affairs:
- Jersey is vice chair of the OECD Working Group on a global standard for automatic tax exchange and is a member of the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters. We joined over 50 other countries, known as the early adopter countries, in signing a Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement in Berlin in October last year.
- Jersey is able to provide law enforcement and tax authorities with the most up-to-date and comprehensive information to tackle tax evasion, including beneficial ownership information from our central registry, and information from our regulated trust and company service providers. The World Bank has recognised Jersey as a leader in this area.
- we share the same OECD rating as the UK, the US and Germany for our application of international standards on information exchange, supported by the signing of some thirty six tax information exchange agreements, and by our participation in the Multilateral Convention.
- in addition, I announced in July 2014 a new package of actions to tackle abusive tax avoidance. These measures have helped to deter individuals and businesses from using the Island for abusive tax avoidance activity that Jersey neither wants nor needs.
I wrote to you in 2013 to make you aware of Jersey’s Value to Britain report, which outlined how the Island’s financial services sector is a significant contributor to the UK economy, adding over £9bn a year, and supporting some 180,000 jobs.
It is important that we continue to work with UK Governments to ensure Jersey’s financial services industry can remain competitive on a global scale, whilst actively supporting international efforts to prevent misuse and abuse of the offshore financial system. This is a dialogue we are keen to continue with future UK Governments.
As I have said in the past, and most recently in my letter to you last August, I would be happy to meet you, your shadow Treasury team and economic advisors to discuss tax transparency and disclosure. I should also like to renew my invitation to visit Jersey to see for yourself how the financial services industry operates and is regulated here. I look forward to hearing from you with a date for a meeting."