Jersey's foreign minister - and former Bailiff of Jersey - Senator Sir Philip Bailhache spoke recently at an Institute of Directors' lunch in Jersey. Now it's hard to take anything said at an IoD event seriously - so biased, repressive and anti-democratic are their views on tax (which must have guaranteed Sir Philip a receptive audience), but there is a point to raise from the following extract from his speech:
My discussions with officials in the European Commission, and with ambassadors and high commissioners representing many EU countries, suggest that at the level of officialdom there is a fairly widespread recognition that Jersey is a transparent and cooperative jurisdiction. In the media and amongst the political class, there is however much work to be done. Sometimes it is just not politically expedient to destroy ancient myths. And sometimes politicians abroad will seek to draw attention away from their own policy shortcomings by suggesting that problems faced by their electorates are the result of actions by wicked tax havens of which Jersey is one.
So this is the same EU that fought Jersey for years on the EU Code of Conduct on Business Taxation? And Jersey is the place that the UK lists as non-cooperative on tax for its refusal to automatically information exchange under the European Union Savings Tax Directive which can only be because it wants to help tax evaders (there is absolutely no other possible explanation)? You can already see how willing Sir Philip is to misinform himself and his audience.
But then the sting was in the tail:
And sometimes critics and pressure groups like the Tax Justice Network will distort research in order to arrive at the desired conclusion.
No doubt Sir Philip is referring to the Financial Secrecy Index. Jersey came seventh in its rankings. The details of TJN's workings for Jersey are here. And in case anyone - Sir Philip included - wonders how we got to the ranking - the methodology is here. And every bit of the database can be accessed here. It is very hard to imagine a more transparent project anywhere.
But Jersey insist we rigged it.
But despite repeated challenges they'll never say why.
And I suspect there's good reason for that - and that's because they can't. The methodology says that Jersey is opaque because it is. And as a matter of fact, that is because they are.
It's time Sir Philip stopped peddling misinformation.