One of the really disappointing aspects of the behaviour of elements of the media and the NGO community is their propensity to allege wrongdoing and mislead without a shred of evidence to back up their extravagant claims.
The banana story is a good example. Around 20 years ago banana producers were using Jersey. I have no reason to suppose this was for anything other than legitimate purposes. They still have some legacy dormant companies registered here.
Critics allege they are currently transfer mispricing and using Jersey to reduce tax bills and cheat developing countries of tax revenue. This story was repeated recently and featured on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday morning schedule this week.
Jersey stands accused of being the biggest banana exporter in the world, with the impression given that some kind of giant scam is being perpetrated.
I investigated this a while back and spoke to a major banana producer. The results of our investigation, were rechecked and validated recently leading to the following news release:-
“Having spoken to members of industry, including one of the largest European banana distributors, we have obtained confirmation that there is no trading of bananas conducted through Jersey and there has not been any such trade carried out via Jersey for almost 20 years.
Suggestions that Jersey is somehow the ‘world's largest banana exporter’ are therefore incorrect and are yet another unfortunate example of old data and misinformation being used to make an inaccurate point about Jersey’s probity as a finance centre.
The reality is that Jersey is one of the best regulated finance centres globally, something that has been proven time and again by bodies such as the OECD, World Bank and IMF, and, as recently emphasised by Jersey’s government, Jersey is committed to combatting tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance schemes.”
I will be in touch with the peddlars of this particular piece of ‘misinformation’.
The really remarkable thing is policy makers actually operate off this kind of campaigning propaganda without taking the trouble to verify the facts. Policy making should be based on sound empirical evidence, it must have a sound basis in fact, and should never indulge the wish list of special interest lobbying groups, who it seems will perpetuate any myth in the pursuit of their ends.
Ironic really given their own characterisation as the Transparency Titans.