Media statement from Jersey Finance Limited in response to the announcement that HMRC is to issue notice to 300 financial institutions to obtain offshore account details
The announcement that HMRC have been given permission by the First-Tier (Tax) Tribunal to obtain details of overseas accounts held by UK residents from more than 300 financial institutions is entirely expected and should not have a major impact on Jersey’s Finance Industry.
The initiative is an extension of the 2006 Commissioner hearing against banks and designed to coincide with the anticipated New Disclosure Order (‘Tax amnesty’), which will take place between 1 September and 30 November 2009.
There has been speculation about how extensive such a HMRC investigation will be and whether it can access account information based in Jersey. The basis for these investigations is within the UK territory and the individuals based in the UK. HMRC are legally only entitled to information which is in ‘the power or possession’ of the institution and their employees that are based in the UK. Where such information is not in the UK and is not accessible to the employees then it is clear that ‘offshore’ information cannot be accessed whether it relates to Jersey or other countries.
Banking institutions operating in Jersey have an obligation to their customers under the customary law and their client contracts to maintain confidentiality in all legitimate cases. This is not the secrecy approach favoured by some centres but respecting clients rights to privacy. Jersey continues to adopt the approach that it would never condone any client evading their tax responsibilities and in the rare cases where individuals do try to evade their tax obligations at home, Jersey is committed to actively co-operating with domestic tax authorities in their investigations.
Those UK resident customers with legitimate reasons for keeping funds in Jersey and whose tax affairs are in order can be reassured that this measure will have no impact on them.
For further information, please contact Geoff Cook, Chief Executive, Jersey Finance Limited, on tel. +44 (0) 1534 836000 or e-mail email@example.com or
Mike Sunier at Crystal Public Relations on tel +44 (0) 1534 618613 or firstname.lastname@example.org