Monday, October 24, 2011

Jersey Finance attacks "contrived propaganda"

Last week, following the publication of our Financial Secrecy Index, which placed Jersey at number 7 in the global ranking, Mr Geoff Cook of Jersey Finance dismissed the index as "contrived propaganda", using a lengthy article in Jersey's Evening Post to describe this massive and powerful piece of research as "lobbying disguised as research". The irony of a lobbying organisation (Jersey Finance) representing a prominent tax haven dismissing independent research as "lobbying" seems lost on Mr Cook.

Anyway, we have replied to Mr Cook by letter to the Jersey Evening Post - posted in full below - and we look forward to his reply to our invitation to provide a detailed criticism of our research.

We also hope that people in Jersey will take up our request that Jersey Finance be called to account for the weak secrecy score allocated to the island. Jersey people might also call Mr Cook to account for the arrogant way in which he dismisses civil society concerns and his outright refusal to engage in proper discussion. Its hard to see how the island's interests are served by such an attitude.

To the Letters Editor, Jersey Evening Post (published 22nd October 2011)

Dear Sir

Mr Geoff Cook of Jersey Finance criticises the Financial Secrecy Index published by the Tax Justice Network as "contrived propaganda" (JEP, Wednesday 19 October 2011) adding that we mix a "cocktail of a little bit of fact and add in standards of (our) own invention which is likely to mislead the reader in to thinking that it all comes from international documents." Readers can make up their own minds about the standards we have adopted since our methodology is easily downloaded, along with all the accompanying documents relating to where we source our facts and how we construct our indicators, from the index website at

Readers can also download and read the explanatory reports on all 15 indicators used in the compilation of the index, and can judge for themselves whether we are correct in our argument that many of the existing standards applied by international organisations are unfit for purpose. Mr Cook boasts that Jersey meets international standards: we argue that the standards he boasts about are hopelessly inadequate to the task of curtailing illicit financial flows and tax evasion.

Mr Geoff Cook is welcome to explain the specifics of where and how we have got the index wrong. The two years since we first published the index have given him ample time to prepare a detailed criticism of our research, and we can only assume that the reason he says nothing more than the index is "nonsensical" is because he cannot substantiate his criticism.

Jersey ranks seventh overall on the index, after Switzerland, Cayman, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, USA and Singapore. Jersey's secrecy score of 78 out of 100 is poor in comparison with Guernsey and the Isle of Man, both of which scored 65. Importantly, both Guernsey and the Isle of Man have recently adopted full automatic information exchange with EU countries, and accordingly gained transparency credits on the index. Sadly, Jersey continues to refuse automatic information exchange. Perhaps Mr Cook should be called to account to explain why Jersey scores so poorly and what measures he intends to take to improve on this score.

Yours sincerely

John Christensen

Director, Tax Justice Network


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