A KEY evaluation of Jersey’s finance industry – in which the Island has invested years of preparation and millions of pounds – begins this week.
For the next fortnight, a team of six assessors and a supporting secretariat from Moneyval – a European body that assesses whether jurisdictions are doing enough to combat money-laundering and terrorist funding – will pore over documents and question individuals to find out if Jersey has the right tools to fight financial crime and how effectively the Island is using them.
The stakes are high: while officials in Jersey expect there to be areas of improvement identified, the Island is keen to avoid more punitive measures, such as being added to a ‘grey list’ of finance centres in need of close external monitoring. A grey listing could wipe hundreds of millions of pounds off the value of Jersey’s principal industry, officials have warned.
After set-up and final preparations, the Moneyval assessors get to work tomorrow and will be based at the Hotel de France, where they will assess Jersey’s rules, regulations, policies and procedures against standards which have been set by an international body called the Financial Action Task Force.
Their style has been described by those close to the process as ‘inquisitorial without being adversarial’. They are likely to meet representatives from a range of bodies, including the government, Jersey Financial Services Commission, the newly independent Financial Intelligence Unit, Jersey Gambling Commission, police and Customs officers, and industry figures.
The Jersey ‘head of delegation’ is George Pearmain, who is the government’s director of Financial Crime Strategy and an experienced Moneyval assessor himself.
The last Moneyval inspection of Jersey was in 2015, when the organisation judged that the Island was compliant with 48 of the 49 FATF recommendations. It was negatively marked for its perceived lack of enforcement against businesses for their non-compliance.
To prepare for the inspection, Jersey has made a number of changes, including new legislation introducing Deferred Prosecution Agreements and making failing to prevent money-laundering an offence. It has also written various new policy documents, including a National Risk Assessment, and beefed up personnel and resources in a number of agencies.
After the assessors leave on 10 October, there will be several months of relative silence, with some engagement behind the scenes, before the final report is formally adopted next July. At that point, how Jersey has fared will be shared publicly.
Guernsey is due to be assessed by Moneyval next year.