GUERNSEY’S REPUTATION: HOW IMPORTANT IS IT?
We are often told, here in Guernsey that it is vitally important that Guernsey as a finance centre has a good reputation. Is this message consistent with the following situations?
1) Rightly or wrongly Guernsey doesn’t have a good reputation. It has an appalling reputation. Yet it still has a finance industry.
2) Of the business lost to Guernsey’s finance sector in the last decade, most appears to have gone to either Jersey (whose reputation is not significantly better or worse than Guernsey’s) or to Dubai, whose reputation is even worse.
3) With avoiding conflicts of interest being a cornerstone of good governance and therefore upholding reputation, would Michelle Le Clerc be using her public office as a States Committee President to spout the “importance of reputation” rhetoric at the same time as drawing a salary from bankers Investec? What happens if Investec hits the headlines for the wrong reasons? In fact it has done just that recently, being exposed by Deloitte’s as the bankers of scam running Providence.
4) Would another States committee President, Peter Ferbrache, be a consultant to a new private law firm which could, and probably will at some point, act against the States of Guernsey?
5) Would Guernsey’s Vice President Lyndon Trott be drawing a salary as a non executive director in the finance industry whilst at the same time being the Chairman of Guernsey Finance which is heavily subsidised by the Guernsey taxpayer to promote the finance industry? https://www.weareguernsey.com/our-board/
6) Would the last two elections have been regarded as valid? Shortly after the 2016 general election it transpired that some candidates and not others had been subsidised by the States to go on courses to be advised on how to run for election. Not only that, but one of the tutors, Jenny Tasker, chaired one of the hustings at which her own pupils were amongst candidates. Then there was the October 2016 by-election when one candidate, Gary Collins, was issued with a different and larger list of potential voters than the others, a list which included the name of Dave Jones, the politician whose death had triggered the by-election. If the States of Guernsey didn’t know he was dead, why did they hold a by election to replace him? Reminiscent of the stuff of tinpot regimes in 1970s bongo bongo land perhaps.
7) Would the election to the post of Guernsey’s most powerful ever politician Gavin St Pier have been conducted by a series of secret ballots and had its outcome determined by a single spoilt paper by a person unknown? https://mattvocallocal.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/gavin-st-pier-elected-president-of-guernsey-by-dint-of-spoiled-paper-in-secret-ballot/
8) And if reputation were so important would the Policy and Resources Committee, headed by St Pier, be seeking, as they say they are, to work more with the third sector (charities)? Anyone who knows anything about money laundering knows that charities are a high risk category. And money laundering isn’t the only risk area. Some charities are obviously destructive. Examples include Common Purpose http://www.ukcolumn.org/article/nhs-common-purpose-towards-million-change-agents and Guernsey FC. Belgrave Wanderers, a powerhouse in local football prior to Guernsey FC’s inauguration a few years ago, who play their home games at The Track, Guernsey’s equivalent of Wembley, barely exists today after a hundred years of competition.
Their first team has one point from ten games. The reserve team is bottom of its league. It has no other senior team apart from a merged outfit with Herm which is also struggling. It only has one junior team which is third from bottom of its league. And Guernsey teams in general are being outperformed by their Jersey counterparts in inter insular competitions.
Other charities are infiltrated. Humanitarian disasters are great news for the secret services and organised crime because border controls are relaxed. Why not train your secret agents as doctors and nurses? Others are covers for shaping society without going through the democratic process. Why, for instance, does the secretive Ana Leaf Foundation, a Jersey health based charity, refuse to answer questions about why it funds the Town Centre Partnership, a Guernsey amenities and entertainments charity, whose officials historically have infested the St Peter Port Douzaine (the Guernsey equivalent of a local council in the UK)?
And why did the Deputy Editor of the Guernsey Press, Suzanne Heneghan, and Barry Cash, who at the time was the most senior official in Parish government as well as being a Town Centre Partnership director, conspire to keep that question out of the media? Additionally, Ana Leaf is strongly connected to Hedge Fund magnate Peter de Putron of Guernsey, whose interests and antics, not to mention his connections with Andrea Leadsom, have been under scrutiny nationally. http://www.desmog.uk/2015/05/25/mysterious-tory-donor-linked-energy-minister-andrea-leadsom-s-rise-power
Guernsey’s constant policy of secrecy cannot, surely, be consistent with an argument that reputation is important to an economy or jurisdiction.
In the latest issue of “Business Brief” editor James Falla (also the Business Editor for the Guernsey Press) asks if those who seek to oppose what the islands do, especially in financial services, would like to run the islands’ PR campaign. Is that a strange question? Whilst, clearly, individual businesses and industries see a benefit in marketing their products, Falla did not explain why a country or island needs to have a PR campaign or explain why Guernsey is a brand or product any more than the air or the sea is.
You may have noticed that one of the sites whose link is in this article has a slogan which is “Clearing the PR Pollution”. That might just be a very good idea indeed
Does the finance sector expect Guernsey’s Government to be full of salesmen rather than politicians? What about the view that if the finance sector, either via jealousy or poor governance or both, tarnishes the international image of “Guernsey” (and there are, it seems, different understandings of what is meant by “Guernsey”) then it follows that if there were no finance sector there probably wouldn’t be much call for PR and spin?
Could it be the case that because the finance industry (and not just the Guernsey one) is based on confidence, those who move within its circles have actually convinced themselves that the false world of image is more important than, or actually is, the real world of truth? Are they able to see a difference?