The British Crown Dependency of Jersey is welcoming the prospect of more regulation of offshore financial centres as an anti-corruption summit hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron takes place in london. Ivor Bennett reports from the island.
Convincing the world you're not a tax haven isn't easy. Especially with images like this. But as pressure grows on places like Jersey, the government here is fighting back. SOUNDBITE: Jersey's Assistant Chief Minister, Senator Philip Ozouf, saying (English): "Every individual that wants to open a bank account in Jersey, that information is going to be transferred automatically on an annual basis to their home tax authority, so there's no hiding place. So it cannot be said that Jersey is a tax haven. This is a label which needs to be consigned to the history books." The term it prefers is international financial centre. Offering expertise and neutrality, as well as zero percent corporation tax. SOUNDBITE: Reuters Reporter, Ivor Bennett, saying (English): "There are over 33,000 companies registered in Jersey, from over 140 different countries, and it's estimated that this tiny island manages over 1.3 trillion pounds of international wealth." The capital that flows through here is subject to tax, but only in its origin and destination. SOUNDBITE: Jersey Finance, Deputy CEO, Richard Corrigan, saying (English): "What we're doing in between is helping international investors to move money from areas of surplus to areas of opportunity." QUESTION: "But if they use somewhere else they would be subject to more tax right?" "Quite possibly yes because they may have additional income tax or capital gains liabilities in that jurisdiction." To some, this constitutes tax avoidance. SOUNDBITE: Professor of Practice In International Political Economy At London's City University, Richard Murphy, saying (English): "In effect what Jersey and other places are doing is running economic warfare. They're trying to undermine tax systems of the UK, the U.S., France, Germany and other countries who wish to run their tax systems as they choose, by offering a tax rate which is in effect only available to people who are not in Jersey. That is the whole definition of a tax haven." Campaigners also accuse places like Jersey of maintaining a veil of secrecy. Leading to calls for a global public register of beneficial owners. Jersey has held a private register since 1989. But says a public one would be a breach clients' privacy