Response to Financial Times Comment

Sir, Further to Avinash Persaud’s comment “Look for onshore, not offshore scapegoats” (March 5): many in offshore finance will, like me, have been pleased to see these sentiments appearing in the Financial Times. There is a real danger that important but poorly understood issues, such as the difference between privacy and secrecy, are lost in the debate over responses to the financial crisis.

Sir,
Further to Avinash Persaud’s comment “Look for onshore, not offshore scapegoats” (March 5): many in offshore finance will, like me, have been pleased to see these sentiments appearing in the Financial Times. There is a real danger that important but poorly understood issues, such as the difference between privacy and secrecy, are lost in the debate over responses to the financial crisis.

Whilst I agree with Mr. Persaud that tax information exchange agreements are an important part of the solution to the problems of tax evasion and money laundering (indeed Jersey has to date signed 11 “TIEAs”) they are not the only solution to eradicating unwelcome practices . Work in areas such as “know your client” also has a vital role to play in ensuring high standards and encouraging investor confidence. Such initiatives have been benefiting finance professionals, depositors and regulators alike through appropriate transparency.

International Financial Centres such as Jersey play an important role as conduits in the flow of international capital around the world by providing liquidity in neighbouring (often onshore) financial centres, the very lubrication which markets now need. In Jersey’s case, much of the £200 billion of deposits held is upstreamed to the City of London and continues to support its rating as the world’s top banking centre.

The desire to help improve the current economic situation, and work with many governments in doing so, is high on Jersey’s agenda. Unlike many large states, we have developed our world class financial services hub from a small base. Our unremitting determination to maintain this world standard has come about through knowledge and trust. We look forward to sharing these attributes in order to better promote understanding and to seize the opportunities which difficult circumstances sometimes create.

Yours faithfully,

Geoff Cook
 

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