The Chancellor has demanded Britain’s offshore tax havens “do more” to crackdown on illegal evasion as he sought to strengthen a potentially ground-breaking deal to stamp out the criminal activity.
The trouble for Osborne is that the finance industry in Jersey is in complete denial that there is any such thing as tax evasion in Jersey. As Geoff Cook of Jersey Finance has said recently when Deputy Montfort Tadier suggested evasion might happen in Jersey:
Tax evasion, avoidance, sham trusts and dark doings are all alleged, sprinkled with supporting statements from the usual culprits, including Mr Christensen of TJN, a former assistant economic adviser to the States of Jersey.
But not a scrap of evidence, not a single case, not even a name, are ever provided to back up these allegations.
The implication is clear: they deny there is any such thing as evasion in Jersey. That sentiment was also expressed by Senator Philip Ozouf of Jersey who said in response to Montfort Tadier:
Deputy Tadier leaves the reader in little doubt as to what the reasons for institutions being in Jersey are. Tax evasion is illegal in Jersey. He does not say this. In the interview justifying his actions with CTV he tried to dodge the issue of that whilst the Island does not condone aggressive tax avoidance, it is tax evasion that is the serious allegation in the article and is strictly illegal in Jersey.
He went on to say:
It is a slur on the strenuous attempts to constantly improve standards in Jersey and continue to build a successful Financial Centre which actually benefits Europe by providing millions of valuable capital into London and Europe.
I call on Deputy Tadier to withdraw his remarks ... and apologise to the people of Jersey whose interests is he elected to serve.
Three thoughts follow on.
The first is that I look forward to Senator Ozouf's demand that George Osborne withdraw his remarks.
Second, I look forward to hearing of the response Osborne gives Ozouf when the latter tells him that because tax evasion is illegal in Jersey it does not happen.
Last, I look forward to the statement Jersey Finance and the States of Jersey issue apologising for the abuse they have poured on Deputy Montfort Tadier for stating the glaringly obvious fact, which is widely acknowledged, that places like Jersey are widely used for tax evasion, as George Osborne has said.