Statement from Senator Ian Gorst, Minister for External Relations
The Government of Jersey continues to stand alongside the UK and international partners in its condemnation of the appalling actions of Russia against Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
We have seen Islanders respond with the compassion that one would expect. Among our community are people who experienced first-hand an occupation by a foreign force.
Jersey will do all it can to help the Ukrainian nationals who are living in the Island, and Government has established a group of officers dedicated to supporting those families and helping them get their loved ones to safety.
I would like to thank the Polish Consul for her efforts in coordinating the community’s support and also to Deputy Inna Gardiner who has been instrumental in guiding myself and officers in how to best target advice and support to Islanders with family members in Ukraine or fleeing through the western borders. I extend my sincere gratitude to the Parishes and those officials and all Islanders who have opened their hearts and pockets to support Ukraine.
This lunchtime, the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has widened UK visa eligibility for people wishing to join family members. It will now include adult parents, grandparents, children over 18 and siblings – in addition to the immediate family members who had previously been eligible.
A new visa sponsor route will also be created to let British businesses bring Ukrainians to the UK. I’m pleased to announce that Jersey will mirror these changes. We are maintaining ongoing discussions with the UK Home Office, as look at the best ways to assist these families.
There is an existing immigration route to enable Ukrainian nationals who are the immediate family members of British nationals to come to Jersey, but we are examining further options to assist these families.
I have written to the Ukrainian Ambassador to offer our Island’s support in all these matters and Jersey Overseas Aid is in close contact with its humanitarian partner organisations. The Minister for International Development will no doubt update the Assembly in due course.
I now want to focus specifically on the actions we can take as an international finance centre.
On Saturday evening the UK, USA, the European Union, and other international partners confirmed a series of critical actions: Russian banks have been removed from the SWIFT system, action has been taken against the Russian Central Bank, and a transatlantic task force has been established to identify Russian assets and restrict access to them.
The UK Chancellor yesterday [28 Feb] announced the UK’s intention to apply further sanctions, including to Belarusian individuals and organisations that have supported Russia’s actions. The UK has also announced further provisions to be brought forward in the coming days, including the acceleration of economic crime measures contained in the UK Economic Crime Bill.
In accordance with our constitutional position, Jersey acts in line with the UK on matters of foreign policy. Jersey fully supports, has implemented, and will continue to implement, all UK and UN sanctions deployed in response to Russia’s actions. Our Jersey legislation to give force to these measures has severe criminal consequences, and any links to sanctioned entities or suspected breaches must be reported to the appropriate authorities.
Where the UK takes further actions, beyond sanctions, we will give effect to the policy intention of all additional measures being introduced. I will not hesitate to take targeted measures to prevent Jersey services providers or structures being abused and we will continue to do everything we can to ensure that the intent of these measures is achieved. I am confident that all measures are being taken, but will keep this under constant review.
Our service providers operate within a well-regulated regime, maintaining accurate beneficial ownership information which in respect of Jersey established entities is filed in a sophisticated registry ensuring ease of access to the Jersey Financial Services Commission and Financial Intelligence Unit of the States of Jersey Police.
Further to this, I have instructed officials and agencies to establish an operational taskforce to ensure that all relevant agencies, including the Jersey Financial Services Commission and Financial Intelligence Unit of the States of Jersey Police, are coordinated in actively identifying and investigating relevant Russian assets in Jersey. This will support our cooperation with international authorities, in particular those in the UK and across the transatlantic task force, where potential activities or assets are identified.
As international policies develop I will ensure that all States Members are kept abreast of the actions that Government is taking, both in line with international partners and directly in response to any immediate actions that arise in Jersey. Should any changes to Jersey legislation be required to ensure we are at the forefront of tackling such activity, I will seek the support of the States Assembly without delay.
The financial services industry plays a central role in combatting financial crime, and financial services firms have the full support of the Government in taking every measure to combat any such activity in Jersey. The industry is being kept updated directly by relevant agencies, co-ordinated by the Jersey Financial Services Commission through a series of communications, and webinars which will be ongoing and reactive to changing events.