We can win the argument, says head regulator

JERSEY has to be more assertive in getting its arguments across that it is a not a haven for tax evasion, says the director general of the Jersey Financial Services Commission.

John Harris, irector general of the Jersey Financial Services Commission
John Harris, irector general of the Jersey Financial Services Commission

JERSEY has to be more assertive in getting its arguments across that it is a not a haven for tax evasion, says the director general of the Jersey Financial Services Commission.

John Harris said that the Island should be looking to take a 'positive rather than negative and defensive position' when quizzed about how it deals with tax matters in future.

'I get personally quite frustrated that when we get asked a question about tax, we give a regulatory answer and say how well regulated we are,' he said.

Mr Harris, who was speaking on Thursday at a conference at the Hotel de France in front of 230 financial professionals, said that he believed that the Island had a wide range of laws and measures in place designed to deter and prevent tax evasion by UK and European citizens.

He argued that when UK and European politicians' targeted' places like Jersey they were working to 'agendas' and are 'fuelled by an indignant press' unwilling to accept that the Island was not a jurisdiction that facilities tax evasion.

Comments for: "We can win the argument, says head regulator"

Ben

I too am "quite personally frustrated" but my frustration stems from Mr Harris' "agenda" in failing to accept that there is a place for independant trust companies in Jersey.

His attitude in being "unwilling to accept" this is leading to people losing their jobs.

Concerned.com

Is this a criticism? If so who of?

"I get personally quite frustrated that when we get asked a question about tax, we give a regulatory answer and say how well regulated we are."

Pip Clement

It does not have a lot to do with agendas or newspapers and everything to do with the fact that the good times are no longer rolling and almost every government is short of cash.

Add in looming deficits, an aging population, rising fuel prices, 18 quarters of recession in the UK.

We have heard something along the same lines from our own Treasury Minister.

Jersey is making economies, the UK is on a programme of active cuts and Greece will shrink it's economy next year to the point where not just the poor but the middle class will be pushed in to poverty.

Governments are desperate for revenue and if they can scrape another few hundred million together by closing a tax evasion scheme then they will.

Peter Hedditch

I think it was the island's economic adviser, Colin Powell (?) the other day who eloquently put it: If the island is not helping people to avoid or evade UK tax then surely Jersey should welcome a FATCA-UK implementation. Surely we will welcome an opportunity to transparently prove that we are not making money at the expense of our per-capita-poorer northern neighbour. Sorry I forget which JEP it was in!

Jon

I accept that the Island has regulations in place that should deter tax evasion.

I use the word should, because the effectiveness of the regulations, is solely dependant on compliance with those regulations and it is here where the fault lies.

Whilst the majority of financial service providers have taken on board the regulations, there are still financial service providers in the Island that appear to deliberately have a very loose grasp of the spirit of the regulations and it is here that the weakness lies.

It appears that there are many different interpretations of the Island's regulations, which vary widely, from genuine probity through loose but possibly reasonably arguable views to outright criminal. It is the latter two, the instance of which seems to be still unacceptably common, together with the JFSC's languid manner in dealing with known breaches of its regulations, that leaves the Island open to the accusation of being a tax haven.

So, in order to accept Mr Richardson's challenge that we need to be assertive rather than defensive in ridding ourselves of the outside World's view of the Island as a tax haven, we first need the JFSC to take a no tolerance approach and deal harshly and publicly with any delinquency of it regulations. I appreciate that the JFSC may argue that they already meet these obligations, however, recent leaks and common knowledge of the local finance industry, both local and outside, appear to suggest otherwise.

It is unfortunate, but I fear that in order to dig ourselves out of the ever deepening hole of attacks from outside fiscal authorities and negative Global opinion, we will have to cut off our nose to spite our face, accept that more business will have must go and accept the resulting shrinkage of the industry and resultant loss of jobs.

It is a harsh reality, but however robust Jersey may think it is, it simply can not stand up to the current Global pressures that are being put on offshore centres.

Nick the Greek

Not a tax haven? LoL

So why no automatic exchange of information with EU Savings Tax, etc.

richard carter

How seriously does the regulator take compliance procedures? Until compliance checks are undertaken and supervised locally, back offices in other jurisdictions can circumvent the rules and delude JSFC.