Jersey is well geared up to cooperating in international anti-fraud investigations and will remain vigilant in the face of an increasingly tough stance adopted by the United States, a Jersey regulatory expert told delegates at a conference in New York last week.
Ed Shorrock, Director of Forensic and Regulatory Services at BakerPlatt, was speaking at the International Bar Association’s 12th Transnational Crime Conference in New York, entitled ‘Multijurisdictional Conflict in the Global Economy’.
Joined by a number of leading US and Swiss lawyers, including a prosecutor from the tax division of the US Department of Justice, Ed was part of a panel discussing the efforts of governments around the world to recoup, through tax investigations, the billions of pounds allegedly involved in cross-border violations.
Amongst the issues debated was the US government’s increasingly tough stance towards individuals involved in fraud against the Internal Revenue Service, including the US authorities’ growing desire to use the flexibility afforded by US law to pursue and prosecute foreign nationals and professionals who engage and assist in criminal conduct.
Acknowledging that the US authorities were prepared to reduce the penalties or even grant immunity for those who cooperated with them, Ed believes that offshore centres like Jersey need to demonstrate they are well geared up to cooperate in such investigations and fight fraudulent activity:
‘The message from the US is clear. Those with irregularities in their tax affairs have a choice when dealing with the US authorities – cooperate and benefit from reduced penalties or evade and be subject to the continual threat of prosecution. Increasing numbers of individuals and institutions are choosing to provide voluntary disclosure and are prepared to divulge information.’
Highlighting Jersey’s framework for dealing with tax investigations, Ed told conference attendees that Jersey had an ongoing commitment to signing more Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs), which provide for exchange of tax related information, under certain conditions, for both civil and criminal purposes. Ed also explained how Jersey’s mechanisms, including the Investigation of Fraud and International Co-Operation laws, enabled it co-operate fully with other countries for serious and complex fraud matters. He said:
‘The eyes of the world are becoming ever more focused on the activities of offshore jurisdictions and not just from governments and regulators – the court of public opinion is becoming increasingly important. Dealing with these expectations is critical to Jersey maintaining its reputation as a well respected jurisdiction, but the Island has the mechanisms in place to ensure it can do so.’
For further information, please contact Ed Shorrock, Director of Forensic and Regulatory Services, BakerPlatt Group, on tel. +44 (0) 1534 613775