Nick Shaxson ■ Tax haven Jersey – the North Korea connection

A North Korea Jersey (this is the away strip.)

A North Korea jersey (the away strip.) A propos of nothing but a pun.

Recently, in The Guardian:

“Jersey, for example, offers a stable political and fiscal environment along with strong, internationally recognised regulation and financial expertise. Jersey has no secrecy laws but respects client confidentiality. Furthermore, Jersey is a co-operative jurisdiction which has signed 20 tax information exchange agreements and has been placed on the OECD’s list of jurisdictions – along with the US, UK, France and Germany – “that have substantially implemented internationally agreed tax standards”.

This is just one version of the ‘we are not a tax haven‘ story that all financial centres push out. The greater the appearance of probity, the more ‘investors’ (and hot money) will find it a reassuring place to come to, is the general idea. So, as we’ve noted before, ‘spin’ is terribly important. 

It is true to say that Jersey has made significant improvements to its tolerance for dirty money — but this is from a very low base indeed, and it’s the result of a changing international climate putting pressure on jurisidictions like Jersey. It’s also true that other, larger jurisdictions, may be at least as guilty as Jersey, if not more so. But it is still ranked 16th in our Financial Secrecy Index.

Now, a Finance Uncovered story from February should serve as a reminder that Jersey still has a long way to go:

“Sawiris’s North Korean businesses are owned by OTMT in Egypt. The majority of OTMT is owned by OTMTI in Luxembourg. According to a Federal Communications Commission application form submitted by another Sawiris company, Accelero Capital Investment Holdings, OTMTI is in turn is owned by companies based in the Cayman Islands. The eventual owner is the Marchmont Trust, a Jersey family trust. The trustee, who looks after the Trust’s assets is the February Private Trust Company, which is based in the UK Crown Dependency and tax haven, Jersey.”

There’s nothing particularly new that we’re revealing here. We’re just saying.

Our next story looks at another ‘we are not a tax haven’ denial, but in a very different context.



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