Jersey wants to renege on Tax Information Exchange Agreements

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A fascinating article in the Jersey Evening Post yesterday. It said (sorry, no sustainable link)

Finance firms say that they are now losing business as a result of the various information exchange agreements on tax and regulatory matters to which the Island is signing up.

What they're referring to are the Tax Information Exchange Agreements to which the Island has been signing up as a means of seeking credibility with the international community in advance of the IMF inspection of its progress in developing adequate measures to tackle money laundering, tax evasion and other financial crime, due next year.

Only one of these deals (that with the USA) is in any way operational as yet, and the evidence is that a tiny number of information exchange requests have been made (less than ten, I believe). But Geoff Cook, head of the government sponsored (I stress) Jersey Fiance has said:

Finance firms are now losing business as a result of the various information exchange agreements on tax and regulatory matters to which the Island is signing up.

He continued:

Large flows of business are not coming to Jersey and business has now started to move.

For example, a large law form in the Netherlands has written to its clients recommending a move from Jersey to Switzerland.

The industry now believes that the cost is outweighing the advantages of co-operating with the demands of much larger economies.

Which just about says everything you need to know about the financial services industry in Jersey: it does not care about money laundering or tax evasion so long as it can make money out of these activities. Reporting on these issues is not a matter of ethical obligation, it's a matter for purely economic consideration as far as they are concerned.

And they wonder why we have an ethical problem with them.

So let's be clear: no one who knows they are dealing with clients operating within the law has anything to worry about if there are effective Tax Information Exchange Agreements in place. Jersey's finance industry is worried. Which is both evidence that Marty Sullivan was right when he said Jersey harbours $500 billion of assets associated with tax evasion and evidence that the industry well knows it.

I have no objection whatsoever to the financial services industry. But I'm really not keen on those who handle stolen goods: and that's what those who knowingly assist tax evasion do. Quite literally that is criminal.

So why isn't this activity being closed down?

PS As an aside, I asked yesterday when the financial services industry would begin to leave the Island. It looks as though it has. Which can only increase the 'black hole'.