For Pete's Sark! Guernsey demands removal from EU tax haven blacklist
Guernsey has written to the European commission demanding to be removed from a – as nominated by EU member states.
Chief minister Jonathan Le Tocq said he was “astonished” to learn that Guernsey had appeared on the list, alongside the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands. In a letter to the commission, Le Tocq demanded a recount.
The 30-strong blacklist contains the non-EU jurisdictions most frequently identified by member states as being “non-cooperative” on tax. But Le Tocq claims Guernsey was classed as a tax haven by nine, rather than 10, of the 28 member states – which he said would remove it from the blacklist. In error, he said, the commission had included a nomination for the neighbouring island of when adding up Guernsey’s figures.
While Sark forms part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey – a grouping of islands in the English Channel – the island is a separate crown dependency. In practice, with just 600 or so residents, Sark outsources its corporate regulation to the Guernsey Financial Services Commission and many local laws shadow those set in Guernsey.
“Guernsey’s current factual position is that we are on nine [EU member state’s tax haven] lists, the same as jurisdictions such as the Isle of Man and Gibraltar who are not on the [European commission blacklist],” Le Tocq wrote. Nearby Jersey, the remaining crown dependency, was nominated by eight member states.
Sark was the hub of a controversial nominee directorships scandal in the 1990s, known as the “Sark Lark”, before many practitioners moved to other havens when laws were tightened in Guernsey and elsewhere.
Le Tocq told the Guardian: “We are seeking to clarify the relationship between Guernsey and Sark, which the commission has wholly misunderstood.”
He stressed Guernsey had no constitutional legal authority for Sark in tax matters.
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