Panorama interviews C&E minister for 'tax dodge' documentary

PANORAMA investigators were shown the statistics to back up Guernsey’s claim that the Bailiwick is now unattractive to people trying to commit fiduciary crimes, the Commerce and Employment minister has said.

PANORAMA investigators were shown the statistics to back up Guernsey’s claim that the Bailiwick is now unattractive to people trying to commit fiduciary crimes, the Commerce and Employment minister has said.

Deputy Kevin Stewart, pictured. was interviewed for the programme ‘Undercover: How to Dodge Tax’, which is set to be broadcast on BBC One tonight.

A journalist from the show wanted to know the history of the ‘Sark Lark’ –- whereby island residents held a large number of paid directorships for companies they knew little about – and what Guernsey had done to stop it.

Deputy Stewart said the Bailiwick was one of the first jurisdictions to legislate for the fiduciary sector, requiring the regulator to grant a licence to anyone wishing to hold such directorships.

He said that move more than a decade ago had lowered the number held in Sark from 15,000 – equivalent to 25 for each man, woman and child in the island – down to about 50 in total now.

Comments for: "Panorama interviews C&E minister for 'tax dodge' documentary"

Islander

Of course it is good that the "Sark Lark" isn't around but what galls me is the insistence that the Lark only happened on Sark. What about the other Channel Islands? Lets be honest about this and stop continually harping about Sark

GM

Islander

Are you sure? I really don't think anything remotely of that nature still operates in Guernsey. The GFSC would have our guts for garters if we did anything of the sort. They would close us down and prosecute us for every breach of anti-money laundering regulations they could find.

And quite rightly too.

Terry Langlois

The Lark was that if board meetings were on Sark then the company was not subject to UK tax or Guernsey tax. If they had taken place in Guernsey, the company would have been subject to Guernsey tax (this was before zero-10). So yes, it was just Sark.

But as for the programme, I thought it showed us in a pretty good light.

GM

Terry

Correct me I'm wrong, but I think it was 1984 when Guernsey stopped using the old Sark Lark, when Guernsey introduced the Exempt Company regime to replace the old Corporation Tax regime.

However, it not stop the Sarkees from continuing to provide directors to thousands of Panamian, Irish, BVI companies etc

I believe it was Talmai Morgan, when in charge of regulating fiduciaries at GFSC, who forced the Sarkees to become regulated in Guernsey or cease operations. Seems like they all disappeared to lowly-regulated jurisdictions around the world. Blimey - Sark to Dubai - that's what I call a change in lifestyle!

Sark Watcher

The process of creeping mind control in the UK is impressive - legit tax avoidance has now been spun to become "immoral". Never mind the BBC "contract" staff, payoffs and salaries, the MP's fiddles, the numerous buggins-turn Quangos and endless EU gravy train rides for the UK's failed politicians.

No one spends money more cautiously and wisely than the poor sap that had to earn it. And the bit the UK politicians desperately want all UK taxpayers to forget is that any money extracted from anywhere now is going to pay off the wanton excesses of the previous Labour administration and the fiscal hangover there-from - not forgetting the vast future deficits on public service pensions.

Of course the folks in the MOJ and Westminster will be obliged to try and plug every possible loophole - because they are busy trying to keep a lid on just how unremittingly awful the overall UK situation really is, and how corrupt so many of the financial institutions really are, and how utterly busted the major banks really are.

However, the UK has made the mistake of forcing the CIs to drop all traditional "familial favours" and become independent to the point where the CIs in general have little to lose from full independence, and Sark has absolutely nothing to lose - because it gets nothing useful from the UK - just grief, platitudes, and lots of meddling. A fully independent CI could do worse than cut a deal with China and invite it to park a few boats in the harbour.

Dani

God that was awful to watch.

Who the hell was that guy and what do we do about it? We can't have anyone like that here. Does his details get passed on?

The program stated he was not licensed, we are well regulated but it still looks bad.

The only thing that springs to mind is tougher sentencing so no-one would even consider trying it on like that.

On a completely separate matter a panorama not long ago was looking into the Barclay brothers and sark. It was pulled for one on badgers. It didn't have a reason for it that i have seen. Then this one comes out and sark is focused on for the Sark lark.

Hartley

I went into the program with high hopes of a balanced, informative report.

What I got was a handful of cut-throats and rogues dodgy dealing on the side without trade licenses etc.

Where are the companies they approached that told them to shove their dodgy money?

Phil

Dani

He was unlicensed, that's the key fact to remember. Basically a guy that the journo met in the pub (or hotel) who offered to provide services for an incredibly high sum compared to legitimate CSPs.

It struck me as a sensationalist programme, plenty of material for cranks like Murphy to get excited about but in terms of actual facts, rather bare.

Dani

Phil

I very much take note that he was unlicensed. The average person watching without firm knowledge of our industry is left questioning our industry and as you say people will twist it rightly or wrongly. It's s headache we don't need. I want to avoid that as much as possible. As Hartley said there was no comment on all the legitimate business that is presumed to have turned him down which does not help.

I dont know where they got him from but I do think even unlicensed he damages our reputation. Anything we can do to make sure people like him don't exist is surely a a good thing.

Scarlett

Well, I'd never trust anyone turning up for a business appointment in a teeshirt and what looked like wellies.

What bothers me is the apparent ease with which they found this 'handful' of rogues, and if it was as easy (as they claim), is this simply an example of what most of them are like?

For the record, I don't actually think any of this makes much difference, as the same legislation that the UK are determined to put in place will affect all of them, good, bad and otherwise.

Also, can anyone confirm if the Mr Hester from Sark who was featured was any relation to the Mr Hester who won at the Olympics?

Ray

Call me a suspicious old git but I presume, with all the fuss surrounding the about to be released Leveson enquiry and the Newsnight debacle, that the 'blanked out for legal reasons mystery man' in the tee shirt was not one of the film crew in a crude attempt to spice up what was quite a dull section on Guernsey's non-involvement in the subject of the programme's investigation

I can't recall that anyone else in the programme offering the same services had their face obscured

Financeworker

Given the UK's persecution of Guernsey at the present time I thought the Island came out quite well. You will always find some idiot in any jurisdiction but, if anything, it should have shown the UK that they should look closer to home to find these dodgy CSP's. They should put their own house in order before shouting the odds at us.

Larky

I have a novel suggestion!

Why not actually //properly// RUN companies and legitimate businesses from Sark?

The Internet makes it simple.