Jersey defends itself in light of Panama Papers

Tax fraudJersey has come out defending its reputation as an offshore financial centre in light of the so-called Panama Papers leak.

The law firm Mossack Fonseca, from where documents relating to tax avoidance were leaked, has a small office in Jersey.

Geoff Cook, chief executive of Jersey Finance, says Jersey has captured information about the beneficial owners of offshore companies since 1999. The ability for beneficial owners to hide behind offshore companies is one of the biggest issues that the Mossack leak has created.

Jersey authorities have full knowledge of the beneficial owners of all Jersey companies, Cook said.

“The Panama Papers challenge the use of offshore companies to hide the identities of the ultimate company owners – the beneficial owners. Jersey’s position on hiding the identities of beneficial owners is very clear: we do not allow it.”

He added: ‘There have been a lot of allegations and speculation reported regarding Mossack Fonseca and the so-called Panama Papers. Although Mossack Fonseca has a small office in Jersey, there is no suggestion that any illegal activity has taken place on the island or involved Jersey-registered companies.’

No jurisdiction can ever guarantee it will never be used by a corrupt minority, said Cook, but Jersey is confident that it has “world class anti-corruption measures”.

Jersey is tax neutral, meaning individuals must pay tax in the jurisdictions in which they are expected to, and tax authorities in Jersey and around the world exchange information to ensure that companies and individuals with interests in Jersey do so, said Cook.

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