The role of offshore centres has come under fire in the aftermath of the Appleby hack. 'The release of the stolen documents, dubbed by the media as the ‘Paradise Papers’, is an illegal hack of files and unacceptable. The sensationalist reporting is deliberately designed to undermine the legitimate business acts of offshore centres,' said Guernsey finance chief executive Dominic Wheatley. 'The coverage has attempted to portray that a lack of transparency exists in offshore finance centres, but in the case of Guernsey that is simply not true. Early adoption of global initiatives such as the Common Reporting Standard evidences our long-standing commitment to global standards of transparency and information exchange – standards that have been endorsed by the likes of the OECD, the EU and the IMF,' he said.
Mr Wheatley said that privacy and valuing client confidentiality 'should not be conflated with secrecy. Indeed, we are completely committed to making available verified and accurate data in a timely manner to appropriate tax and criminal investigative authorities. The establishment of our central register of beneficial ownership earlier this year, put Guernsey in line with the very highest standards in the world in this regard,' he added.
Strong fiduciary regulation
'At the same time, it’s important to note Guernsey is one of the few places to regulate trust and corporate services providers and was among the first to do so, in 2000. This strong fiduciary regulation has ensured higher service standards and protection for consumers. It has also provided a mechanism to reinforce our anti-money laundering (AML) regime and ensure that comprehensive information on the source of funds and the identities of ultimate beneficial owners of such structures are always obtained and kept up to date.'
Guernsey’s AML and anti-terror financing regime when assessed by MONEYVAL, a body of the Council of Europe tasked with assessing the measures in place to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism, scored the highest standard of any jurisdiction so far assessed when measured against the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, the statement said.
Guernsey is located in the Channel Islands between the UK and France and is an independent dependency of the UK Crown. It is outside of the EU but is granted access to European markets through demonstrated regulatory compliance. Guernsey has approximately 1000 investment funds domiciled or serviced in the island, 150 licensed fiduciaries and 800 licensed insurance vehicles.