Monday, May 06, 2013

In the British tax haven of Jersey, don't speak out against tax havenry

TJN has written on several occasions about the rather authoritarian nature of the political system in the British tax haven of Jersey. There is no functioning system of party politics there; there is only one newspaper, the Jersey Evening Post, which equates the interests of the offshore centre with the interests of Jersey and savagely attacks its critics ("The Local Pravda", as Deputy Trevor Pitman calls it); the local BBC is similarly 'captured', and those who confront the system are treated harshly, and in a few cases brutally. Read the "Life Offshore" chapter of Treasure Islands to get a flavour of it, (or see here, here, here and here and here - just for example.) And if you want to read something else generic about tax havens being 'captured states,' you might read this, about Cyprus.

Now, we're going to paste an entire blog from Tax Research which merely underlines the point - as if that needed doing.
Senator Philip Ozouf, the Jersey Finance Minister, has tellingly revealed the real nature of the political situation in Jersey. In his response on his blog to the interview elected Jersey Deputy Montfort Tadier [the equivalent of an MP, pictured] had with a French newspaper Ozouf said:
"Deputy Montfort Tadier this week gave an interview to a leading French Newspaper, Le Parisen effectively denouncing Jersey and its Finance Industry.

It is a matter of great regret that Deputy Tadier has chosen to express these views.

Political debate is healthy and in a democracy we are all entitled to have and respect different views. However, Deputy Tadier’s remarks if accurately quoted cross the line of what is appropriate behaviour for a politician elected to serve the people of Jersey."
He added:
"This article was extremely damaging to Jersey. If the article quotes are true the interview is a relentless assault on Finance in Jersey. His remarks cast a dark shadow over Jersey and Finance Services which is portrayed wrongly in the worst possible light."
What does Ozouf take objection to? Amongst the claims he says Tadier got wrong is the fact that there is any tax evasion on Jersey. Ozouf says:
"Tax evasion is illegal in Jersey."
His emphasis! Well, that settles it then. It’s illegal so of course it doesn’t happen.

And that’s about as sophisticated as he gets in his blog, so trite is his analysis, which as I’ve shown is also, quite simply, factually wrong.

And yet in this diatribe there are several very clear messages. The first two are reflected in  this comment:
"I call on Deputy Tadier to withdraw his remarks to Le Parisen and apologise to the people he represents."
So firstly, Montfort Tadier must not tell the truth. Clearly that’s not allowed in Jersey, whilst misrepresenting the truth about trusts is.

Secondly, only one view is allowed: Jersey is finance and finance is Jersey and anyone who says otherwise is failing the place and must apologise.

In both cases it’s clear that a single party state is what Ozouf believes does, and should exist. But that’s, perhaps, most tellingly portrayed in this comment in which he refers to this television interview:
"Yesterday, I was asked to do an interview with ITV Channel Islands, which I agreed to do a head to head with Deputy Tadier. I was placed in an extremely difficult position of having to attempt to counter Montfort Tadier’s comments without any intervention with from the journalist. I will be taking this up with CTV as I would expect a professional interviewer to have intervened and actually challenged both sides."
There was not a hint of bias in the interview: Channel TV left two politicians to debate an issue. And what is clear is that Ozouf did not like that. In his opinion the press must fawn to and support his view. They didn’t; they let him face an opponent without their protection and that is something he is totally unused to, and he’s going to complain  as a result.

In the totalitarian world of Ozouf and his cronies, supported by the finance industry in Jersey, opposition is not allowed.  I applaud Montfort Tadier for having the courage to stand up to this abuse of democracy, of the freedom of speech, of the truth and for naming Jersey for what it is – a place that creates structures designed to undermine the tax system of other states. No wonder Ozouf does not like it – he’s been rumbled."
TJN emboldened (if that is the right word) the text in the quote above - the most important highlighted. But we'd add a couple of extras from Ozouf's blog, just to remove any doubt.
"It is deeply regrettable that the editors of le Parisien have found an elected representative who is prepared to denigrate his own island.
Deputy Tadier should have been strengthening the work that shows Jersey is well-regulated, co-operative and committed to exchange of information on tax matters with France."
What is astonishing is that things in Jersey are so far out of hand that it is possible to say such a thing without appearing ridiculous. Imagine the situation where Le Parisien had written an article that quoted a British Member of Parliament criticising malpractice in the City of London (of which, of course, there isn't any). The equivalent of the first sentence would be UK Chancellor George Osborne putting out a statement declaring:
"It is deeply regrettable that the editors of le Parisien have found an elected representative who is prepared to denigrate the United Kingdom, by virtue of criticising the City of London."
Just imagine the outrage that would ensure.

Ozouf makes great show of Jersey signing up to various initiatives - for some reason omitting to note that Jersey has been forced to accept these things, and what while with respect to the EU Savings Tax Directive, other jurisdictions such as Cayman and the Isle of Man have ticked the "automatic information exchange" option - Jersey has fought against it to preserve as much secrecy as it can.

Jersey - the captured state. Plenty of them around. And a big report about all of this, due soon.


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