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Defending the Isle of Man’s reputation

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Mr President

I am pleased to be able to provide an update to Honourable Members on our progress to defend our Island and our economy against what has been a deliberately orchestrated attack from the international media.

Whilst a large part of our diverse economy is not directly affected by the media focus we cannot underestimate the impact it has had on our reputation, and those of other international finance centres around the world.

Our overall message has been clear and consistent - the Isle of Man is not a place that welcomes those seeking to evade or aggressively avoid taxes.

Where the Isle of Man’s integrity is challenged we will not be complacent.  Against a backdrop of significant allegations surrounding VAT treatment on business jets we acted swiftly and decisively to take action, demonstrating that the Island is a well-regulated, open and transparent member of the international community.

In order to defend and protect the Island’s reputation our approach has been to engage.

We will continue to articulate our position to the international community through interviews, answering media queries, addressing allegations against us, and robustly correcting errors.

On Island the Cabinet Office together with colleagues from Treasury and the Department of Economic Development have all been engaging directly with local businesses and industries. This dialogue has enabled us to understand concerns they have and provide reassurance on the actions we are taking to defend the Island’s reputation.

Off Island we are engaging with key stakeholders in the UK and the international community who understand the value international finance centres play in the global economy.  We are now seeing some more balanced and reasoned arguments coming forward from expert commentators which we welcome.

We will continue this engagement to help us ensure the debate is balanced, based in fact and that our hard won reputation for international compliance and transparency remains front and centre.

And Honourable Members it is not only us saying how compliant the Isle of Man is. Last week the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes published its latest ratings following the start of its second round of reviews.

The Isle of Man has retained its top 'Compliant' rating. This makes us one of only 6 countries to be awarded the top compliant rating during the second round of reviews and we are currently one of only 3 to have been rated compliant in the first and second rounds of reviews.

Mr President if I may I would like to take the liberty of reading the OECD’s summary of their review of the Isle of Man.

'The Global Forum concluded that the Isle of Man continues to be Compliant with the international standard on transparency and exchange of information upon request. The Isle of Man’s legal framework for the availability of ownership, accounting, and banking information is in place and legal obligations are subject to proper oversight. The new obligation of availability of beneficial ownership information was previously primarily addressed under the anti-money laundering rules.

To address the gap relating to entities that are not required to engage an anti-money laundering obliged service provider, the Isle of Man passed the Beneficial Ownership Act 2012, which now extends obligations to identify the beneficial owner(s) to all relevant entities except for general partnerships. Provisions requiring entities to hold and register information on their beneficial owners. Isle of Man has successfully exchanged both legal and beneficial ownership information in practice. The Isle of Man also addressed a weakness identified in its practice during the last round of reviews, namely the sharing information received under an EOI request with the financial intelligence authority.

In terms of exchange of information, the Isle of Man has been commended by peers for its highly efficient and cooperative EOIR practice.'

I am delighted with this rating which demonstrates clearly our high levels of international cooperation.

So Honourable Members in closing my message to our businesses is clear we as a Government are determined to create an Island of enterprise and opportunity.

We want to grow our economy, we want to increase our economically active population, and we want to encourage a skilled workforce to relocate to the Island.

We have the skill, talent and drive among our people and we will continue to grow and we will continue to flourish.

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