The Chief Minister of Jersey has just released the following statement which I detail in full given the importance of this subject:
Chief Minister supports G8 initiative following meeting at Downing Street
Jersey’s Chief Minister has today attended a meeting with the UK Prime Minister at Downing Street to discuss global information exchange and tax transparency in the run up to the G8 summit. After the meeting, David Cameron said he commended the leadership shown by the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, saying it would enable the UK to speak with a stronger voice at the G8 summit.
Senator Ian Gorst described the meeting as productive and cordial, and made the following statement: –
“Jersey has a long track record of commitment to meeting global standards on tax transparency and I support David Cameron with his agenda for the G8 Summit. I firmly believe that if changes are to be made to the international financial system, then these should be done by all the key economic players, including the G8. We therefore support the multilateral approach that the UK Prime Minister is advocating and wish him success in chairing the forthcoming G8 meeting.
“Jersey is fully signed up to the G8 agenda on beneficial ownership and we will be publishing our action plan on Tuesday. We already hold a central register of beneficial ownership of companies, and information is available to tax authorities and law enforcement agencies on request. We are confident that the quality of the information held centrally, and that held by the regulated trust and company service providers, is sufficient both to meet current international standards and to allow us to meet any new international standards which are agreed by the G8 and to be applied globally.
“We will continue to respond promptly and effectively to requests for information from tax authorities and law enforcement agencies, and support the agenda for the G8 Summit. We are also offering to provide developing countries with technical assistance, based on our own experience, to help them improve the capacity of their tax administrations in combatting tax evasion/avoidance.
"We have already agreed to an enhanced tax information exchange agreement with the UK; we have joined the pilot project, now embracing 17 EU Member States, that with the OECD is seeking to achieve a single international standard for automatic exchange of information; and we have asked HM Treasury to make the necessary arrangements to join the OECD/Council of Europe Multilateral Convention.
“We will continue to support the work of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes through our position as a vice chair of the Forum’s Peer Review Group, and wish to see a level playing field, in compliance with international standards, for all finance centres competing in the global market place.”
This is encouraging and stands in marked contrast to the Sky News headline this evening indicating that the UK PM has achieved a crackdown on Tax Havens. It's regrettable the media have not picked up on PM Camerons recognition of the leadership and commitment shown by centres such as Jersey on the Transparency Agenda whilst ensuring a focus on the legitimate privacy concerns of clients.
Jersey leads the UK in this area by a significant margin and what has really happened is the UK itself is now committing to level up to the performance standards that Jersey has already achieved.