Following Jersey Finance’s various promotional materials including Value to Britain, its Moving Money report which claims to show the beneficial role of offshore centres, and its publications on Jersey’s links to Russia, China and India, comes a report on Jersey’s Value to Africa.
On the 8th of July 2014 – nine days ago at the time of writing – the first stories based on a data leak from a private bank in Jersey were published.
The result of a collaboration between the ICIJ and the Guardian, the articles revealed that Hollywood celebrities, industrial tycoons, UK politicians and the Arctic Monkeys, among others, have links to offshore dealings in Jersey.
Following the announcement of more details regarding the UK’s proposed public registry of beneficial ownership, David Cameron has recently written to the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies on the issue.
Predictably, the reaction in both Cayman and Jersey – the two largest secrecy jurisdictions with links to the UK – has been negative.
Offshore service provider Appleby yesterday published a report (pdf) with statistics on company registrations in Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey and Mauritius. All of these jurisdictions are in the top 20 on the 2013 Financial Secrecy Index except for the Isle of Man, ranked 34th.
“As the global economy appears to be stabilising, the company registration data reveals that levels of new company registrations in several jurisdictions have accelerated following a faltered growth pattern during the second half of 2012.”
“In the first half of 2013 there were 38,416 new offshore company incorporations in total. Although this represented a small decrease of 3% on the preceding six months in 2012, this was primarily due to a seasonal decline in incorporations in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which has a disproportional effect on the total figures. Elsewhere, with growth at around 8-9%, most offshore jurisdictions are close to growth levels seen in onshore comparators the UK and Hong Kong. The UK is, as we would expect, leading this growth with an 11% increase.”
Looking a bit closer at the data in the report, it would have made sense to also compare numbers for the first half of 2013 with the same period in 2012 rather than just with the second half. But this would have shown either a 9% fall year-on-year if BVI is included, or a slight fall of 0,3% if BVI is excluded, which doesn’t fit as well with the upbeat message an offshore service provider wants to be sending to its customer base.
In any case, despite its decline BVI “continues to dominate offshore new company registration activity by volume, and has consistently maintained a six-fold lead ahead of its nearest comparator, the Cayman Islands, and kept up a steady pace of circa 30,000 new companies registered each half year”.
The graph below shows the leading role of the British Virgin Islands among these 7 offshore markets.
New offshore company incorporations, first half 2013
Source: based on data compiled by Appleby Global
The report also has statistics on the total number of companies registered in the seven jurisdictions: 674.385 as of the 1st half of 2013, a figure “5% larger than pre-recession 2008”.
The delegation is headed by External Relations Minister Sir Philip Bailhache, accompanied by the Chairman of Jersey Finance. They will be “building on the existing links within the financial services industry, seeking to reinforce Jersey’s strong record on regulation, cooperation and transparency, which has been recognised by official bodies such as the OECD and IMF, as well as highlighting the wide range of business activity in place.”
“Jersey has to date attracted £20.8bn in bank deposits from the Gulf, 13 percent of total bank deposits held in Jersey.”
“Jersey’s strong links with the region are reinforced by the presence in Jersey of a number of Gulf based banks either directly or through association with other financial institutions. Among them are Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, HSBC Expat, Emirates NBD, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi and the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.
Jersey Finance has also been fostering educational links in the region, most recently by hosting Kuwaiti banking students through the training and development scheme which is organized by the Kuwait Institute of Banking Studies (KIBS).”
The population of Jersey is 97,000, while the population of the United Arab Emirates is 9.2 million.
Update October 4th 2013: The Jersey Finance media clippings page is now restricted to members only.
The daily Jersey Finance media clippings page is a useful resource for following press coverage on offshore finance. It posts up to 20 links a day, split into sections (one of the sections is called “Wider Jersey mentions: Tax/Avoidance/Evasion”).
The media clippings page for September 20th has links to a Financial Times Doing Business in Jersey 2013 supplement. Unfortunately the articles are behind the FT paywall, but based on their titles it looks like a promotional series: “Small island spreads its wings“; “Mineral groups discover a rock-solid base for their operations“.
According to the description of this article, Jersey also has a space programme (!).