Writing about fraudsters, I have come to associate the Channel Islands with the sort of bankers who don’t ask too many questions.
I suspect that the image is out of date. Guernsey, for one, has led the charge in blocking money-launderers and other miscreants.
But offshore bank accounts do attract the wrong kind of people, and there is plenty of choice. A drive through St Peter Port brings a litany of familiar names: Barclays, Investec and the rest.
There are some very expensive homes on the island and I spotted more than a few Aston Martins. Not that they can go very far. The island measures five miles by nine.
My other Guernsey association is with Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay.
Although usually resident in Monaco, the Barclay brothers have a sizeable pile on Brecqhou, tucked between the neighbouring islands of Herm and Sark.
A colleague who has seen it says the place has all the aesthetic charm of a nuclear bunker.
The Barclays make a curious double act. Famously press-shy, they incongruously own The Scotsman and The Business along with the Ritz in London. They were the surprise buyers of Littlewoods, proving that, at 68, they have not lost their appetite for a deal.
The twins tend to get bad press, but the Channel Islanders think the world of them. They fund local lifeboats and similar services, winning them a reputation as generous benefactors. As with most things in life, it is all a matter of perception.
- Jon Ashworth, business features editor at The Times.
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