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Punitive regulations threat ‘ever present’

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THERE is ‘an ever-present’ threat of punitive regulations from other governments against low-tax jurisdictions, the Chief Minister has said.

Chief Minister John Le Fondré

Speaking at the Institute of Directors’ Christmas lunch yesterday, Senator John Le Fondré told a room full of local business leaders and fellow politicians that, with the ‘increasing possibility of a no-deal Brexit’, Jersey’s government is doing all it can to ensure the Island’s interests are as well-represented as possible.

‘The uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the future path of interest rate rises are risks to the finance sector, as is the ever-present threat of punitive regulations targeted at low-tax international financial centres,’ he said.

‘From Jersey’s perspective, we have been clear with the UK government that Jersey’s interests should be taken fully into account in the ongoing negotiations with the EU. And, whilst I cannot provide you with an unequivocal guarantee that the Island will not be disadvantaged by Brexit, I can repeat that we have a strong and productive relationship with the UK government and I believe that our interests are being taken into account.’

He went on to allude to meetings on Monday which took place during a visit to the Island by UK MPs Dame Margaret Hodge and Andrew Mitchell, both of whom have been vocal advocates for a public register of beneficial ownership in the Island.

Jersey’s ongoing refusal to publish a public register of those who benefit from the ownership of a security or property without being named has drawn criticism from Dame Margaret on a number of occasions.

As recently as last month, she publicly stated that the UK Parliament ‘must use its powers’ to ensure Jersey’s compliance in this area.

However, Senator Le Fondré reassured those at the IoD lunch that he had been robust in his defence of the Island’s position.

‘I outlined to them the processes the Island has in place for sharing information readily with law enforcement agencies around the world. I equally reinforced that Jersey enjoys a long-established constitutional relationship with the Crown, and it is not for the UK parliament to legislate for Jersey without our consent.

‘I do not doubt we will continue to face criticism from external parties, including UK MPs, for our business model. It is an argument that we must be prepared for and able to respond to robustly. A part of that will be around increasing our engagement with UK parliamentarians.’

Sam Le

By Sam Le
Journalist

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