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Island a Legitimate Offshore Centre 29 January 2004

Treasury Minister Allan Bell MHK has welcomed a UK Government Ministerís parliamentary answers drawing a distinction between different kinds of offshore financial centres.

Answering a question in the House of Lords on Tuesday this week (January 20, 2004), Lord McIntosh of Haringey distinguished between Britainís Overseas Territories and the British Crown Dependencies (the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey).

Of the Crown Dependencies, he stated:

"They have different tax regimes but we are satisfied that they comply with all the regulatory conditions that we have in this country. We are also satisfied that they have adequate protection against fraud."

Lord McIntosh also stated:

"I believe we should make a distinction between the offshore jurisdictions which are attractive because they have low tax regimes, which is legitimate, and those which have poorer regulation and which fail to comply with international standards of exchange of information or, indeed, of withholding tax. That is the direction in which we should target our efforts."

Lord McIntosh, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, was answering a question from Lord Wallace of Saltaire, who asked Her Majestyís Government:

"Whether, in the light of recent financial scandals and evidence of tax evasion, they propose to review their relations with offshore financial centres under British sovereignty."

Commenting on the response, the Islandís Treasury Minister said:

"Offshore centres are often lumped together, but they are not all the same and it is encouraging that a UK Government Minister has made this clear in the House of Lords. As Lord McIntosh indicated, there is a big difference between legitimate centres like the Isle of Man - which combine international standards of regulation with competitive taxation Ė and some of the other centres around the world."

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