The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has stated that he does not think it fair to refer to Jersey, Guernsey and other UK Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories as tax havens.
In responding to a question from Labour MP Fiona O’Donnell in the House of Commons, following his statement on the recent G20 summit in St Petersburg, Cameron recognised the positive steps taken by Guernsey, Jersey and the other Crown Dependencies in relation to international transparency and cooperation.
“I do not think it is fair any longer to refer to any of the Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies as tax havens,” he 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."
Guernsey’s Chief Minister, Peter Harwood, says: “I welcome the Prime Minister’s acknowledgement that the label ‘tax haven’ is one that is not applicable to Guernsey. As the Prime Minister’s recent letter to me recognised, Guernsey has shown leadership on tax transparency for a number of years, and continues to do so. Guernsey is not a tax haven, and nor is it a secrecy jurisdiction – it is a transparent and open international finance centre.”
Geoff Cook, CEO of Jersey Finance, says: “Today’s comments from the Prime Minister are not only extremely welcome, they demonstrate that there is now a recognition and understanding at the highest level of the UK government, of the standards achieved by Jersey and the other Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories and also the value of Jersey to the UK, as a partner in international trade.”
Fiona Le Poidevin, chief executive of Guernsey Finance – the promotional agency for the Island’s finance industry internationally, said she hoped the Prime Minister’s comments would bring an end to Guernsey’s connection with the label tax haven.
“The Prime Minister has rightly pointed out that we are not a secretive jurisdiction and that the tax haven label shouldn’t apply,” says Le Poidevin. “Hopefully his comments will not only bring an end to the label’s use, but also raise awareness among the wider UK public about the level of contribution that Guernsey and the other Crown Dependencies make to the UK economy. The UK Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, made similar comments last year when he pointed out that we were ‘an important gateway for the wider financial sector and indeed the economy in the United Kingdom’.
“In his open letter to the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies in May, ahead of June’s G8 summit, Mr Cameron said he respected our right to be a lower tax jurisdiction which we appreciated as, just like the Prime Minister, we do not condone tax evasion. We would like to think that his latest comments will put the notion that Guernsey is a tax haven to bed and instead paint it as the cooperative and transparent international finance centre that we are.”