Letter 4

Boothman, Objective, What!

John Boothman’s scathing character assassination of Jean Andersson, John Christensen, Pat Lucas, Richard Murphy and myself and the non-governmental organisations we work for in the Jersey Evening Post (JEP) of 24th May, leads me to make some observations on the reasoning for Mr Boothman’s attack on us.

As reported in the JEP 2nd June Mr Boothman a former Director of Deutsche Bank Offshore has been nominated as a commissioner of the Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) that regulates Jersey’s finance industry. If successful, he will be well placed there with the other nine Commissioners who have all worked in, or for companies connected to the financial services industry. That is if it is objective or ethical to have ten Commissioners who have worked in the industry they are regulating. If successful, Mr Boothman says he will resign his column at the JEP.

I have to ask the question, did Mr Boothman know about his nomination to the JFSC when he wrote the aforementioned article in the JEP? If so, was the attack on the aforementioned people just a subjective parting shot by Mr Boothman? You would have thought that someone with Mr Boothman’s ability could have managed an objective argument using proven research as a counter argument to the work of the people he maligned. We must also consider the role of the JEP (Jersey’s only newspaper) in allowing the publication of Mr Boothman’s scathing attack on us.

Whilst Mr Boothman was a director of Deutsche Bank Offshore, he wrote, “Using an onshore bank as custodian for an international portfolio with cross-border beneficial ownership potentially exposes the fund to unnecessary tax imposts, in particular in respect of bond income, which can be avoided by holding the assets offshore. This has enabled many offshore subsidiaries themselves effectively to become “clients” of the onshore parent bank”. In addition, “that many private corporate and industrial institutional clients with direct international investments have a requirement for the safe custody of their assets in a secure offshore location”. In addition, “that offshore regulators are generally more approachable and more pragmatic than those in other countries”.

What Mr Boothman means by this is that if multi-national companies and rich individuals deposit their money in offshore tax havens they can avoid their codified tax liabilities as set out by the government in the country of origin. Therefore, denying the country of origin valuable tax revenue that goes towards the development and upkeep of infrastructure and social protection.

The use of tax havens, of which Jersey is one, enables banks like Deutsche Bank to sell their clients aggressive tax avoidance packages that deprive developing countries of vital tax revenue that perpetuates absolute poverty. The Tax Justice Network research findings argue that there is at least US$11.5 trillion held in tax havens and that the misappropriated tax revenue could moderately be at least US$255 billion annually.   

So, while Mr Boothman lives in the luxury of Boothman Towers a child dies every three seconds through lack of food, water or illness in third world countries, that could be directly avoided if the greed of multinational companies, rich individuals, banks, lawyers and accountants was curtailed. Considering that, does this leave Mr Boothman as a man whose word we can take seriously regarding the best way Jersey’s economy should be run and funded, and in particular the role of the welfare state?

Chris Steel