10 July, 2008

Under Attack

What is Anguilla doing to prepare for the coming assault on our financial services industry? Management Consultancy is a website published in England. It represents the interests of UK accountants, financial managers, and consultants. They have absolutely no interest in Britain’s overseas territories as such. Perhaps, they think, the territories serve some minor purpose when they present business opportunities for their members. Other than that, so far as Management Consultancy is concerned, we can happily sink below the rising tide of global warming.

So, I was not surprised when I read their latest article on the coming Commons Treasury Select Committee investigation into the offshore financial services industry. The article is dismissive of our interests to an extreme. They seem to think that we are responsible for destabilizing the global economy!

Still, it is useful to familiarize yourself with the rhetoric of your opponents. That way, you know in advance what is coming.

The Commons Treasury Select Committee is similar to the Foreign Affairs Committee, whose Seventh Report is presently so much under discussion in Anguilla at the present time among the better informed of our citizens. It is a political committee. Its members consist of Members of Parliament. It is not a committee of bureaucrats. It does not represent the interest of the British Treasury Department. It represents the oversight of the Treasury Department, and Britain’s financial interests, by UK politicians.

So, we learn that the committee plans to call witnesses from the overseas territories as part of its inquiry. Additionally, members of the committee are visiting Jersey and the Isle of Man this week. The Isle of Man government has already announced that it has submitted information to the committee. These UK domestic offshore financial centres have professionals who are well able to represent their country’s interests. They, in consequence, are bound to have their interests taken account of in the final report.

What about us? Will anyone from our private sector attempt to protect our industry. Has AFSA surveyed its members to ascertain what percentage have ‘know your customer’ procedures? Will anyone in the public sector attempt to defend their role and function? What is the Anguilla Financial Services Commission doing to prepare? What briefing papers have the staff in the Ministry of Finance prepared for the assistance of the Minister when he comes to answer questions?

Will we point out that there are at least two reasons why there are so few suspicious activity reports filed in Anguilla? One is that there is, perhaps, not that much suspicious activity in Anguilla to report on. The other is that the UK has done little or nothing to provide us with the resources to upgrade our investigative capacity. The FAC Report contains extensive comment on this criticism of the FCO in its supervisory role.

Or, will Anguilla just sit passively, and wait until it is too late? Then, no doubt, we will blame the foreign oppressor as usual for the damage that our own inactivity has caused.

The two main stories on the home page today relate to fraudulent complicity of UK financial institutions. One is the case against Ernst & Young for failing to detect fraud at the wholesale drug distributor CBI Holding Co. The other is a story about Grant Thornton’s recent international business report. This reveals that only one third of UK companies seriously try to detect fraud, compared with 45% worldwide and 59% in the US. In the UK, only 7% of businesses said they had increased staff involvement in fraud prevention in the past 12 months, one of the lowest rates in the world.

And, they have the impertinence to accuse us!

1 comment:

  1. Mitch, you're on a rampage. Keep it up!!!!! Someone's left ear (or right, doesn't matter) has to be hearing this. You think? Maybe everybody's blind? I didn't think this was a 21'st century problem, unless it was in Africa or southern asia. Do you think Parliament has turned a deaf ear and blind eye? It would appear that way. - Scotty


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