Only on strict condition

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The cheek of this article in the Jersey Evening Post is staggering:

THE governments of major European banking centres are to be asked if they will extend any savings guarantees to Jersey in order to protect the offshore finance industry on which the Island's economy depends.

Financial authorities in the Island want to ward off problems arising from the global financial crisis and try to gain some security for the billions of pounds invested in Jersey.

Although Island residents have been assured that their deposits will be 100% covered by the States of Jersey, depositors who are non-resident have no such protection. Businesses, trusts and company structures are not covered by the Jersey scheme. The Island is therefore heavily dependent on the UK government to safeguard the deposits of the major British banks.

The director general of the Jersey Financial Services Commission, John Harris, has not confirmed which countries they will be targeting. He said: 'We will be speaking to other authorities, but even for European banking groups London remains the place that is the key issue. We have to prioritise.'

Given that Jersey has quite deliberately set out to undermine the tax revenues of all these places for the last four decades the sheer nerve of this is staggering. But I would, none the less say yes, subject to some strict conditions. These are:

1) The names and addresses of the beneficial owners (by which I mean warm human beings) of all accounts to be guaranteed are provided to all authorities providing the guarantee, with them having the right to pass that data on to whomsoever they choose. If there is refusal to provide information on any account then no guarantee is offered to anyone.

2) There will be full participation in the EU Savings Directive henceforth, not just for the EU but all countries. The tax withholding option will be withdrawn immediately. There will be full of exchange of information, and it will not just be to the EU but to all countries with depositors in the Island.

3) The full beneficial ownership of all companies (warm bodies for private companies - trusts will not be permitted as owners - although quoted companies are acceptable)will be put on public record, as will the names and addresses of all people who really control all companies in the Island, and the accounts of all those companies will be put on public record.

4) The same will be true of all trusts, limited partnerships, cell companies and other entities that the Island facilities.

Say no to any of this and sorry the answer will be simple: no guarantee is available. The benefit of the European welfare state can only be available to those who are willing to pay for it.