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US Treasury official highlights Island role against financial crime 16 June 2008

THE positive part played by the Isle of Man in the global war against financial crime has been highlighted by a key official from one of the U.S. Treasury’s main anti-money laundering agencies.

William F. Baity - Deputy Director of FinCen, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network – spoke of the Island’s involvement with his and other agencies when he delivered the Chief Minister’s International Lecture at the Mount Murray Hotel.

Mr Baity told 120 guests from the private sector and Government that the Isle of Man regularly provided information to FinCen. ‘What you are doing is helpful in our fight against financial crime and I think that is important’, he commented.

Until recently Mr Baity was chairman of the Egmont Group, a forum which brings together more than 100 financial intelligence units from around the world, including the Isle of Man’s Financial Crime Unit.

He said most crime involved a financial element, and criminals took no notice of national boundaries in working together to exploit opportunities. Governments needed to think globally too, and in combating international crime it was vital to share information that could assist other investigations.

Mr Baity acknowledged the support given by the Isle of Man in global efforts against financial crime. On the issue of the Island’s reputation, he advised a move away from the label ‘offshore’, which had connotations that could not be overcome, to something like ‘independent financial centre’.

‘Perception is reality and you will struggle as long as people talk about offshore’ he observed.

He also suggested that the Isle of Man use its maturity and experience in financial regulation to help less developed jurisdictions around the world.

In terms of communicating the reality of the Isle of Man to the U.S. Government, he said there were many different components of the administration in the States, with constantly changing personnel. It was therefore vital for the Island to keep going back to the U.S., and to a range of bodies, to get its message across.

Chief Minister Tony Brown MHK welcomed Mr Baity, whom he had first met on a Manx Government mission to Washington in November last year. Mr Brown explained that the purpose of the International Lecture series was to enhance local understanding of global issues and to build relations with the influential guest speakers.

The Chief Minister said the sharing of information to combat financial crime was an issue which the Isle of Man took very seriously, and on which it had a sound international reputation.

In particular, he pointed out, the Island had a strong track record of co-operation with law enforcement agencies in the U.S. This had been clearly recognised by the U.S. Treasury when the Isle of Man concluded a tax information exchange agreement with the United States in 2002, since which time the Island had continued to develop its relationships in the U.S. with a number of visits to Washington.

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