Offshore – Isle of Man counters ‘fraud haven’ image

The Isle of Man sought to head off criticism this week that it offered a safe haven to fraudsters by enforcing two major pieces of anti-money laundering legislation.

The island’s authorities said they would stay several steps ahead of Jersey, Guernsey and other offshore havens from 1 July when ‘all-crimes’ anti-money laundering laws ‘go live’. The laws include fiscal crimes such as tax evasion, which the Cayman Islands and others have refused to enact.

A new Investment Business Act which was passed last month, will also give the islands’ regulators the ability to co-operate with foreign police forces, including the Serious Fraud Office, even if no crime has been committed. This legislation is likely to be enforced from the autumn.

The commission’s outgoing boss, Jim Noakes, said the island had no interest in protecting fraudsters. ‘But we can say no if we think the foreign authority is ‘going on a fishing expedition’. It must be a genuine regulatory investigation,’ he said.

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