Transparency in a Jersey trust? You’ve got to be kidding

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When Jersey is boasting (and it does, often) it says one of the things its financial services sector does that is of benefit is run employee benefit trusts. So it was interesting to see this in the Sunday Times last week:

A TRUST set up by the architect Lord Foster for the benefit of his staff is the subject of an official inquiry into its multi-million-pound winding up.

Foster's 900 employees helped him make a £295m fortune changing the skylines of London, New York and Hong Kong, but now some of them are seeking a clear explanation of how the trust's assets were divided.

When it was closed, it paid out an estimated £3.6m to staff although it had owned nearly 50% of Foster's £300m firm.

Funny that. And guess where it was run? Jersey, of course.

To it's credit, the trust is apparently being investigated by the Jersey authorities. But I bet we won't hear the outcome of that investigation. That's the way it works in Jersey. After all, secrecy is their core product.

Things do have to be bad though. Even my regular sparring partner Mike Warburton has his doubts on this one:

"It raises the question of where all the money has gone," said Mike Warburton, a senior partner at Grant Thornton, an accountancy firm, who has scrutinised the accounts. "I can't answer that, but I can well understand why the question is being asked."

Now there's a turn up for the books.