Treasury Crackdown on International Financial Services. Are the British Overseas Territories being unfairly targeted again? I ask that question because the UK Treasury Department has just announced another investigation into our international financial services industry. You can read all about it for yourself on Parliament's website.
I never was able to understand. Why does not parliament similarly investigate British bankers, insurers and money managers? Why investigate us? We are at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to the international financial services industry. I remember Rodney Gallagher once explaining to a meeting of the Anguilla Financial Services Association that the West Indian financial centres could expect, at most, the crumbs that fall from the financial services table. The reason? We are already so well-regulated, so transparent, so small, and far away compared to Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Monaco, Lichtenstein and Zürich, that only the smallest share of the business will ever venture out our way.
Now, the jingoistic British press have taken up the cudgel. See the Guardian article here. The headline reads, “Britain's overseas territories open to fraud and money laundering”. Note the suggestion that we are “open”, as in “welcoming”!
This is typical of the English newspapers when the markets are heading down. Blatant protectionism of the City and its outposts in Jersey and the Isle of Man. They don't even consider that it may well be that regulation in Anguilla and the other BOTs is now so tight that no crimes have taken place. Certainly a possibility in a place as small as Anguilla is.
What is the proportion of regulators to employees in the UK? Is it any better than in the BOTs?
Are the regulatory techniques in Anguilla and the other BOTS any different to those employed in the Crown Dependencies of the Channel Islands?
Does any fraudulent scheme, such as the BCCI fraud, that has the smallest link with a BOT in the Caribbean, not have its headquarters in the City or in the Channel Islands?
Does the British banking system not rely on repackaging debt products in offshore centres such as Anguilla and the Isle of Man? Should Anguilla be shut down to ensure that all the City's offshore business goes elsewhere?
They are all in the game, and it is just a question of where it is played. If the principle is that, “We only like offshore if it is our offshore”, then does not Anguilla qualify?
The problem is that these people run the UK, and it appears that we are going to bear the brunt of their own political nervousness over the forthcoming economic downturn. Same as it ever was!