UNLAWFUL raids carried out by police officers on premises linked to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich are unlikely to have a damaging impact on the Island’s reputation as a financial services centre, according to the Treasury Minister.
Deputy Ian Gorst admitted that it was ‘never comfortable’ when mistakes were made but added that Jersey continued to have strong regulations in place.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the States police had issued an apology to two unidentified parties – referred to in court papers as XY and A Ltd – and that undisclosed damages would be paid. It is understood that XY and A Ltd are local financial services firms allegedly linked to Mr Abramovich and that the apology is ultimately to him.
Chief Minister Kristina Moore has requested an independent review into the raids and has sought reassurances that Jersey’s reputation as an ‘internationally respected and well-regulated jurisdiction’ had not been damaged as a result of the international headlines stemming from the case.
Deputy Gorst said: ‘I don’t think it has a damaging effect on the financial services industry. Those in that industry and that use Jersey know that we have high standards and that they have to go through all the compliance regimes we have in place.
‘It is never comfortable for anybody anywhere if there have been errors in the way that there was in this particular case.
‘In this instance it is not connected with government. It was action taken by the Economic Crime Unit, which sits in the independent prosecutor’s unit.’
He agreed that the warrants ‘should be quashed’ and that a ‘private apology’ be issued in addition to the payment for damages, which will be funded by the taxpayer.
He also confirmed, by way of affidavit, that ‘any copy of the whole or any part of any document’ that had been seized – including those stored on seized electronic devices – had been destroyed.
During next week’s States sitting, Attorney General Mark Temple is due to face two questions in relation to the incident from Deputy Sam Mézec.
Mr Temple will be asked about what efforts he takes to ‘ensure that all officers who carry out functions that fall within his office’s responsibility abide by the rule of law’ and how much public money has been paid in compensation to people who have faced action ‘deemed unlawful’ on how many occasions in the past five years.