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Jersey, Guernsey, IoM revel in Cameron’s ‘not tax havens’ comments

From Tax & Regulation Sep 12 2013 BY: Helen Burggraf , Contributing Editor , International Adviser

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Officials from the three UK Crown Dependencies have been calling attention to a House of Commons statement by Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, in which he said they were not tax havens.

Cameron also cited the 14 British Overseas Territories as having taken action recently “to make sure that they have fair and open tax systems”, and thus no longer fit the tax haven model either.

Cameron’s statement came less than a month after news reports that the French Government had added Jersey, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands to its list of “uncooperative tax jurisdictions”.

Geoff Cook, the chief executive of Jersey Finance, which represents Jersey’s financial services, made Cameron’s statement  the subject of his latest blog, which he entitled “It’s official – Jersey is not a Tax Haven!”

“The IMF could have told you, the OECD could have told you, the World Bank could have told you, if you had read the Edwards report you would have known, if you had read the Foot report you would have known, and if you had read the Capital Economics report you would have known,” Cook continued.

Cook’s blog, along with an article about Cameron’s statement and a video clip of him making it in the House of Commons, have been posted on the Jersey Finance website.

Guernsey’s reaction was similar, with a piece on the Guernsey Finance website featuring a statement by Guernsey Finance chief executive Fiona Le Poidevin in whcih she says “the Prime Minister has rightly pointed out that we are not a secretive jurisdiction, and that the tax haven label shouldn’t apply”.

The Isle of Man Government’s website, meanwhile,  show-cased a statement by IoM treasury minister Eddie Teare, in which he took note of Cameron’s comments and added: “With positive assessments by such organisations as the OECD, IMF and Financial Stability Board, we do not consider ourselves to be a tax haven”.

Response to questions

Cameron made his comments about the Crown Dependencies on Tuesday, in response to questions about the recently-ended G20 summit in St Petersburg, where tax evasion and tax-related issues were high on the agenda.

“I do not think it is fair any longer to refer to any of the Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies as tax havens,” Cameron said.

“They have taken action to make sure that they have fair and open tax systems.

“It is very important that our focus should now shift to those territories and countries that really are tax havens.

"The Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, which matter so much quite rightly – to the British people and members – have taken the necessary action, and should get the backing for it.”

90-page report

Cameron’s comments, as well as the news that France had added it and two other jurisdictions to its “uncooperative” list, followed the publication in July of a 90-page report highlighting Jersey’s overall value to Britain’s  economy, compiled  by the Capital Economics research organisation on behalf of Jersey Finance.

In an introduction to the report, Jersey Finance’s Cook said it proved what many had believed for years but had not had the data to prove – that Jersey is “an overwhelming benefit to the UK”.
 

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