Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jersey's Cook vs. TJN's Christensen on future of tax havens

A publication called Jersey Now is carrying (on its back page) a debate between Geoff Cook, chief executive of Jersey Finance, asking the simple question "Will the Jersey Finance Industry be here in 20 years' time?" Cook answers Yes and Christensen is categorised as representing No (although that isn't what he actually says.)

Let's start with Cook's "We are a co-operative, transparent and well-regulated centre . . . as well as being an OECD white-list centre."

First, let's quote from Treasure Islands:
"Close relationships are inevitable in such a small island, but it is precisely because of this that Jersey needs extra checks and more transparency, to weigh against the inbuilt tendency towards conflicts of interest. This is especially important when Jersey plays such a major role in international finance. This affects you and me. Skittish financiers dislike places that are chaotically corrupt, as do onshore regulators. Secrecy jurisdictions steeped in sleaze confront this by putting on a strenuous performance of rectitude, a theatre of probity that involves repeatedly projecting the essential message – ‘We are a clean, well- regulated, transparent and cooperative jurisdiction’ – burnished by carefully selected comments and praise from toothless offshore watch- dogs like the IMF’s Financial Action Task Force or the OECD."
That puts Cook's comments in perspective, of course. We have demonstrated beyond doubt on our website and in the FT - and note that top professionals agree with us, profusely -- that the global scoring mechanisms for tax havens are so flawed as to amount, in many cases, to a deliberate whitewash. The evidence is quite simply incontrovertible - and Cook's message needs to be understood in this context. Anyone who knows Jersey will know that its politics are rotten to the core.

One interesting comment Cook makes is that he thinks that in 20 years or so there will be only a dozen or so 'international financial centres' (they all hate the term 'tax haven'.) Perhaps Cook is right there. Christensen's argument - which does not put him in the 'no' camp in this debate - is self-explanatory. Read on.


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