'Secretive tax haven' Jersey

JERSEY has been labelled ‘one of the most secretive tax havens in the world’ in the House of Lords after it was revealed that UK citizens hold some £19 billion in Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man accounts.

Baroness Williams, of Crosby
Baroness Williams, of Crosby

JERSEY has been labelled ‘one of the most secretive tax havens in the world’ in the House of Lords after it was revealed that UK citizens hold some £19 billion in Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man accounts.

In an exchange between Baroness Williams of Crosby – former Labour and SDP MP Shirley Williams – and deputy government chief whip Lord Newby, it was also revealed that the UK tax department is setting up a new unit to specifically look into money held offshore.

Baroness Williams, a former UK Education Minister who sat in the House of Commons for 17 years, had asked the original question on Monday about how much money British citizens held in Channel Island accounts, and what was being done to investigate them. She also claimed that ‘Jersey is one of the most secretive tax havens in the world’.

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Comments for: "'Secretive tax haven' Jersey"


yes and tell us something we dont know us locals have been saying this for years

Jim is dim

No we haven't.

Jersey is so highly regulated that it is more difficult to get your money in here in the first place than it is for a person with a legitimate and proper purpose for requesting disclosure to get that information.

By contrast to other jurisdictions, where institutions roll over to provide information when the world's big brothers come a-knocking, Jersey will look secretive. In fact, we have such a wealth of regulators, industry experts, lawyers, and experienced practitioners that we tend to analyse the requests properly instead of seeking cheap political credibility by bending to the whim of a more powerful jurisdiction.

We do things properly. It is the people who fail to declare assets held in Jersey to their domiciled tax authority that commits the offence.


Jim Is not Dim it at all! Good to see someone knows what they are talking about.

As a Financial Services degree student, it is frustrating to hear residents and people from the mainland bad mouth Jersey's Financial Services sector when they have no idea what they are talking about.

Dim Jim

We have so many agreements for full disclosure should we be asked that we are quite to opposite of ‘one of the most secretive tax havens in the world’ - she doesn't know what she is talking about and anyone who agrees with her is Dim as they shouldn't be commenting on something they know nothing about. Jersey is so open and so heavily regulated that we can simply ignore this lady, the only issue is the negative publicly and the effect it may have on Tourism...

Lost Jersey

Can we have the old Jersey back! Farming,Fishing,Tourism and just small banks and small cars. Less greed please there's more to life!

donald pond

Given that this woman has been wrong on every major political issue since the moment she learned to speak (and I imagine she emerged from the womb already boring people to death with her prattle) I am not sure whether her misguided remarks are a good or bad thing.

Shirley shome mistake?

Tony B

Seventeen years in the House of Lords? And now she gets around to asking questions, oh well.


Me thinks the old dear probably blurted out the first thing on her mind after sleeping soundly in the back row, bless her :-)

Tony B

Ah Bless! You probably right, another Goverment sponsored welfare for the elderly scheme. :-)

The future

All the regulation in the world will not work against that comment.

Oops the people holding our international reputation above water are working in hospitality and farming.


Don't kid yourself there's a major clean up operation needed there too!!


Ok, not only is there a considerable lack of understanding as to offshore regulatory structures, that is a completely different debate. The problem lies with the individuals who do not declare their offshore assets to the HMRC. This is against the law.

If ultimately they decided to remove the use of offshore accounts from UK domiciles (which is very unlikely), the City can say goodbye to a number of their top individuals and institutions, as they will not simply accept the existing tax structure in the UK

Where is Jersey Finance with a counter argument to this??????


Where is Jersey Finance with a counter argument to this??????

On the the phone to some really expensive UK consultants per usual I would suspect, perish the thought that they may say something to which they could be held to account. World class! My a**e!


one of the most secretive tax havens in the world’:-). The people who are interested in tax havens might have Jersey on their list but it isn't a top player and known as The Channel Islands elsewhere (so all Islands included).

Believe me, the world isn't talking about Jersey at the moment.


Quick, Bailhache - fine her for being 'unruly'!

How dare she criticise our great island!


Baroness Williams has been filled with gas all her ill informed socialist life.

This hot air will go no where


Typical response from someone with a limited education and obviously a Conservative fan...Baroness Williams is and has been an outspoken politician for many years, unlike the sycophantic people we have in government. She has been a politician since the '60s and held posts including Secretary of State for Education and also Paymaster General.

"ill informed socialist life" Oh and she has a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics and Economics she was also a Fulbright Scholar.


And what is she talking about anyway, The Queen (Duke Of Normany) handed out an OBE to Gary Barlow for serives to Charity and Entertainment, when he was one of those who was proven to be a UK tax dodger under the K2 system, so maybe she should stand up in the house next time and have a moan at the Queen !


That's is EXACTLY the point you have highlighted that all these so called intellectuals seem to be missing and drastically, we do come under the Duchy of Normandy and it was through Norman Law that England allowed lending in the first place...

arfur crown

well she would know about secretive money wouldnt she she only has to ask her mates mandleson and the blairs and dont mention MP,S excepences.


I worked for a major trust company for many years and all of our UK clients agreed to full exchange of information. There are many ignorant people like Baroness Williams who spout all sorts of rubbish whilst having a very limited knowledge of offshore financial centres.


Yawn yawn....

As everyone with an ounce of knowledge already knows, it is not illegal for UK residents to hold offshore bank accounts or other offshore assets. It is merely illegal to not declare the resulting income and gains to HMRC to the extent that they are reportable. Non-doms residing in the UK don't need to report at all (in most circumstances).

But she doesn't refer to UK residents - she refers to UK citizens. Well, a UK citizen living abroad has absolutely no obligation to report anything in the UK. It is virtually impossible for a UK expatriate to have a UK bank account without a current UK address, and Jersey is their first port of call. That's why the big UK clearing banks employ so many people here! There are apparently 5.5 million UK citizens living outside of the UK.

Queue Richard Murphy's inevitable response: "But how do we KNOW - prove it by signing automatic exchange of information agreements".


Baroness Williams is not doing Labour any favours by coming up with this nonsense.

C Le Verdic

Not the first time she hasn't done Labour a favour.

Forming a party which split the Labour vote didn't help much!

To the best of my knowledge, she isn't currently in the Labour Party.


C Le Verdic

I dont follow British politics much so pehaps she is no longer a Labour member but maybe a conservative back bencher. She seems to swing whichever way might increase her popularity. This has been proven by the fact she was made a baron/ess

C Le Verdic

I noticed that she was in the news this morning for some other reason, which I've already forgotten.

Do you think she has got an agent who has told her to raise her profile with a view to becoming a Widdecombe type celeb and appearing on 'Strictly Go Prancing'?

Not from round 'ere

If UK citizens are also UK residents, then there is a little regulation called ESD reporting / ESD witholding tax that applies, where either:

1) The EU resident has elected for reporting and the financial / investment insitution reports their name and the amount of interest earned from reportable savings and/or investments to the relevant EU country's tax authority.


2) ESD witholding tax, where the EU resident elects not to have their name reported and instead opts for the relevant financial / investment insitution to calculate an amount of 35% of the reportable interest/investment income they have earned and pays that to the relevant EU country's tax authority.

This little regulation makes the amount held by UK citizens in Jersey, Guernsey & Isle of Man by UK citizens irrelevant as the relevant EU tax authority will either have the details of one of their resident's and their reportable saving /investment income earned or will have been paid tax owed under ESD regulations.

And Baroness Williams of Crosby's issue is...?


The money being thrown into Jersey Finance to combat the amount of business we are losing is incredible. And with tax avoidance rules tightening up the loses will continue.

With Jersey so dependant of Finance a loss even 10% of the Islands business would have massive implications for Jersey.

Years ago the business just rolled in - now we are under real pressure and losing the fight.


Is there any legal recourse to people talking nonsense like this? Jersey is not one of the most secretive havens in the world. It damages your reputation.


Hmmmm..... so we won't sign up to certain exchange agreements and we have no register of Trusts giving owners names. Interesting!

Of course we don't facilitate tax avoidance..............


Richard murphys latest posts on jersey say corruption is behind the heart of everything you do and implies if you had time report everything to the UK you would be just left with fringe banks doing dodgy deals with dodgy people. The guy holds himself as an expert. Saying stuff like that which is incorrect is slander in my eyes.



His standard retort is "we don't believe you, so prove that you are clean", but its him making the allegation so the onus is on him.

He makes one valid point though, which is to ask why Guernsey and IOM were wiling to sign up to automatic exchange of information with the EU, but Jersey refuses to do so. What are we hiding, or are we so desperate to hold onto our share of the 35% withholding tax that we can't afford to sign up? However that still requires the clients to agree to suffer the 35% tax in the first place, so what are they hiding?

Is anybody prepared to comment? I have asked this question a few times lately on other threads and nobody ever responds, which is both odd and worrying.

Tony B

Why should an independent finacial system, and that is one the things that a Bailiwick is, that isn't a member of the EU sign up? Would you consider paying PAYE to the English exchequer.


Ah yes but despite Guernsey having exchange of information agreements in place they still get accused of being secretive because the require a legitimate reason to give out private details on a simple request. (Shock horror).

I'll be honest I did not realize you did not have the same. I cannot answer your question, but keep asking. I imagine it is because the onus is on the client not the business to disclose. So clients tell the business there is nothing else or say the rest of the matter is dealt with elsewhere and the business has fulfilled their obligation if they have no evidence to the contrary. When Guernsey got the agreement clients moved to Jersey if they did have something they did not want to declare because we are similar to deal with. The cynical answer is you will get the agreement but you get revenues a few years longer before you do.

What annoys me though is all the insinuation that there is dodgy business despite all the AML laws and regulations. That corruption is behind everything and efforts to make it legitimate. As far as we concerned say in GSY it is all legal. We don't court crooks and I doubt you do either. We don't want them - we want a good reputation and no hassle.

I only say he is an expert because I think the case of slander you would have to prove he is a position to attack your reputation. He does a whole self loving bio on his own web page and has a book with no 1 economics blogger on it. The Tax Justice Network is influential. I'm all for free speech but it has to be fair comment.

The constant barrage of unsubstantiated incorrect bull that comes the way of the CI's is not mitigated by sending a few suited smooth talkers to the right people and places. The media perpetuates it and so does lack of knowledge on the issue.


My understanding is that they have elected not to sign up until such time as it is necessary, as clients do not like exchange of information agreements. A lot of the business that comes to Jersey is confidentiality based rather than tax based and TIEAs can be seen by less knowledgeable HNWIs as 'scary'.

Tony B

Expert? The definition Drip under Pressure never fitted more neatly. :-)

C Le Verdic

Some of these corny witticisms don't automatically become a fact through repetition, Tony!

Tony B

No, but in this case it occured to me.


This Peer is very much like Nadine the MP found recently in the jungle. She should be talking about issues which relate to her constituency and yet she chooses to poke her nose into areas she knows nothing about - and in the process talks a load of rubbish.

Stick to stuff you know about love.



As a member of the House of Lords, Baroness Williams does not have a constituency - only MP's do...

Stick to stuff you know about love.....


Quote: But she doesn’t refer to UK residents – she refers to UK citizens. Well, a UK citizen living abroad has absolutely no obligation to report anything in the UK. It is virtually impossible for a UK expatriate to have a UK bank account without a current UK address, and Jersey is their first port of call. That’s why the big UK clearing banks employ so many people here! There are apparently 5.5 million UK citizens living outside of the UK.unquote:

Having had an offshore account for over thirty years and being a Jersey expatriate. I found it advisable after a long illness to apply for my wife of forty years to have access to my account (joint account) It took me over a year to set this up, The Jersey bank put so many checks that I almost gave up, I had to get a signature from my local Tax office here in Germany with them telling me how difficult it was to get a Offshore account . No, it is not easy to bank with Jersey at all.


The MOST unregulated and the MOST secretive of all tax havens?

Delaware.. YOO ESS of AY.


Ha ha brilliant

John Christensen

Take a look at this assessment of how Jersey laws and commitment to international cooperation provide secrecy: http://www.secrecyjurisdictions.com/PDF/Jersey.pdf

This assessment has not been disputed by Jersey Finance.

If you want to improve on an already appalling international reputation, do something about changing the laws that allow for non-disclosure of important information and sign up to automatic exchange of tax information.


John Christensen

PS And do stop the ad hominem attacks: these are the last resort of bullies.


John Christensen

What do you expect when Murphy posts what he has today - stating that Jersey's constitutional status since 1066 and 1204 is fake?

So everybody else has been wrong for a thousand years and he is right? The man is utterly deluded and so are his happy and misguided band of followers. Yes - that's you.


At <1% value of all secrecy Jurisdictions it would appear we don't have an offshore reputation to boast of.


In terms of bullying surely singling out Jersey only for still adopting the withholding tax route is not reasonable when Luxembourg, Austria and Switzerland all apply the same system and Jersey always committed to changing the system when there was a level playing field. Perhaps focus on the EU members and Switzerland and I am sure Jersey would do the same as was the commitment when this whole topic was first raised.

In terms of secrecy Delaware has probably the worst record with service providers having no idea of owners and activities.

Perhaps an obsession with Jersey is blinkering your view to the bigger picture.


As I belive has been touched on in earlier posts, the individuals who have accounts in Jersey, have a personal obligation to be up front with the tax authorities in the jurisdiction they are domiciled in.

Is is the clients that are secretive alot of the time.


I wonder what perks go with the job of being a baroness. I dare say she lives very comfortably whilst low & middle earners struggle in this recession.

gino risoli

Tax heaven status was born from british government desire for wealthy people and now corporations to pay less tax than ordinary tax payers. Now if the british government wants to close that piece of legislation it can in fact do this at anytime they wish. So putting our eggs in one basket as l mentioned in my manifesto seven years ago was very good advice but as in the Grouville exercise recently many prefer to bury there heads in the sands of Jersey>

Wilson Riou

Gino you said "Tax heaven status was born from british government desire for wealthy people and now corporations to pay less tax than ordinary tax payers. Now if the british government wants to close that piece of legislation it can in fact do this at anytime they wish."

--- Since most of the informed opinion from both sides of the argument on this subject disagree with you on these two points what evidence do you have?

You also said" So putting our eggs in one basket as l mentioned in my manifesto seven years ago was very good advice"

--- What are you talking about?

Then you said" but as in the Grouville exercise recently many prefer to bury there heads in the sands of Jersey"

--- what has your alleged hijacking of a parochial meeting got to do with this subject?

Many, including me, have sympathy with your desire for more transparency regarding access to government information even if you come across as a single issue wannabe politician, but your general incoherence on other subjects will always marginalise your attractiveness to the voters. Get it together or give up.

gino risoli

John Christensen

you come from a very caring soul. i believe that what makes you fight is the knowledge of what humanity is doing is killing millions unnecessarilly all over the world.

D De Jersey

Cue Baillache with another little rumble about independence.

Or does he still have a warm feeling from Clegg spending a couple of seconds saying we are important to the British economy.


Amazing how little knowledge is shown here sometimes when just a little effort would suffice.These personal attacks on Shirley Williams are laughable,she is a Lib Dem peer and has been a Lib Dem since the SDP and liberal parties joined,she is also a respected intellect and as a peer has no 'constituency'.I personally think on this issue she is wrong but she wont be the first or the last,Jersey and Guernsey are lazy targets when there is far worse around the globe but I guess what ever we do will never satisfy some.As long as we strive to be clean and honest we should hold our heads up high but for goodness sake lets diversify our economy fast.

Blaire Peach

She was also responsible, along with Tony Crossland, of destroying the Grammar school system in mainland UK and bringing in that joy of mediocrity, the Comprehensive. On that she certainly has a lot to answer for as the UK has slid down those international tables of children's educational achievements. One can have a great intellect and still be lacking in the old common sense stakes although I think she meant well.


The brown stuff has just hit the fan for Jersey.

News has just leaked this afternoon about "Son of FATCA" being announced for the CDs and Overseas Territories by the UK.

The compliance costs alone will cost a fortune for all Jersey businesses.


Extracts from the tax letters arriving on peoples doorsteps from the HMRC this morning i don't think Jersey is going to be secretive much longer

We are committed to challenging aggressive tax avoidance, and we will do so through the courts where appropriate. If we do this then it will lead to years of uncertainty about your tax affairs, and mean considerable additional cost to you. We are already challenging similar schemes and we have a very successful track record in the courts with schemes of this type.

Your decision to use a scheme such as this means that we will treat you as a higher risk customer. Therefore we will monitor more closely your tax affairs in the future.


Paying your taxes in full is the right thing to do. Not paying tax reduces our public finances. We all lose out on essential public services such as roads, the NHS and schools.


Has anybody seen this?


Very worrying !


What is blatently being ignored is the fact that all tax avoidance schemes have to be ratified by HMRC! It is the responsibility of anyone placing their money in any offshore jurisdiction to declare it! I wonder if there was an investigation into government financial deposits, what would show up?


As joint founder of the Social Democrats - is she partly to blame for the current UK government?