Conference – Offshore tax haven dispute

Claims by a senior US government official that offshore tax havens should become part of an international financial system ‘where offshore means the same as onshore’, were dismissed by Guernsey’s chief regulator.

Peter Crook, head of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission, rebutted proposals that would eliminate differential treatment of offshore transactions.

He said the proposals implied that offshore havens should improve their performance to match major financial centres such as London and New York.

He added that the emphasis of any development in international financial regulation should focus instead on the weaknesses of onshore centres.

‘Most onshore centres should tighten up their performance to the level of the best offshore. Look at the UK and its record of convictions for money laundering. Its success rate is minimal and recovery of laundered money abysmal,’ he said.

Earlier, Jonathan Winer, deputy secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement at the US state department, said offshore centres should face ‘the same regulations, the same access to records, the same law enforcement’.

He said all countries should add tax evasion to the list of offences in national anti-money laundering laws and mutual legal assistance agreements should be amended to include tax offences.

Winer also claimed tax evasion provided a loophole in the money laundering laws of many jurisdictions. Offshore havens such as the Cayman Islands have so far refused to include tax evasion in their money laundering laws.

Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man either include tax evasion or are planing to include tax evasion in their own laws.

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