GUERNSEY’S REPUTATION: HOW IMPORTANT IS IT?

 

November 2016

 

  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.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgrave_Wanderers_F.C.

 

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)?

 

https://mattvocallocal.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/who-runs-guernseys-capital/

 

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

 

  

 

Besides which if Governments did their jobs properly and upheld democracy there wouldn’t be any need for charities, or most of them, anyway[m1] .

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

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 [m1]

TREACHERY AND RESOURCES IN THE CHANNEL ISLANDS

TREACHERY AND RESOURCES IN THE CHANNEL ISLANDS

Around thirty years ago I recall my grandfather (whose father died in World War I in the belief he was fighting for our freedom) dismissing my dad, mum, my sister and myself (and the dog) as “a bunch of ruddy townies” during a particularly heated political debate. So two generations before me, Guernsey’s parishes felt they should be largely independent, never mind the island. So what has been going on since?

Whilst I am pleased to say that I have no evidence that the Channel Island Governments are worse than most others – especially the UK’s – when it comes to failing to uphold proper ethical principles, I am not going to defend their increasing disregard for prioritising the interests of their respective electorates. As a Guernseyman my yardstick for comparison is how Guernsey used to be (and therefore can be) rather than how the UK and elsewhere is today. To applaud the Guernsey establishment (and indirectly the people who allow them to continue to fail) on the simple grounds that we’re “better than the UK” is rather like saying “Myra Hindley was okay because she was responsible for fewer deaths than John Gacy, Hannibal Lechter, Gary Ridgway or Tony Blair.”

SECTION 1: TRILOGY OF TREACHERY

Three particular significant decisions which fly in the face of prioritising the interests of existing electorate in recent times have been:

2006: Zero-Ten

2015: Government reforms

2015: Population policy

ZERO-TEN

In 2006 by virtually abolishing corporation tax with a tax strategy known as “zero-ten”, the States surrendered control of Guernsey’s economy to the ‘business lobby’. This was not done in an even handed fashion.

The envisioned success of zero-ten was dependent on achieving sustained economic growth, estimated at 4% per annum, ad infinitum. This seemed to be based entirely on Gordon Brown’s “the days of boom and bust are over” concept and ignored the spectre of increasing prices of oil and construction materials much of which were being bought by China. The theory was that by reducing corporation tax, existing businesses would employ more people or pay higher salaries, new business would be attracted to Guernsey, and the increased rates of employment and salaries would generate enough increases in Government revenue through income and other taxes to fill the black hole in the States’ finances created by the absence of corporation tax

Along with construction company boss and Government Minister Bernard Flouquet, Stuart Falla, the largest shareholder in the largest construction company in Guernsey, was on the Financial and Economic Steering Group when he was Commerce and Employment Minister. The Committee decided to “go for growth” and later of course recommended “zero-ten”. An “independent report” which came out in favour of zero-ten, was written by Falla’s cousin, Steve Le Page of Price Waterhouse Coopers. During my election campaign of 2008 I was not allowed by any mainstream media to mention any of this connectivity.

Chief proposer of the zero-ten regime, Treasury and Resources Minister Lyndon Trott, declined to meet Deputy Charles Parkinson in a live public debate on the issue. Parkinson was proposing alternative plans which were far more popular with the electorate, although Trott disputes this, despite saying later that his fall in votes in the next election in 2008 was due to his role entailing having to make unpopular decisions. Parkinson’s votes soared.

It was only on the morning of the debate on zero-ten in June 2006 that its proposers allowed the majority of deputies access to their files showing the public response from the consultation process, and even that was only after deputies threatened a requete to delay the whole debate.

Trott and then Chief Minister Laurie Morgan attacked Parkinson’s proposals, saying they were not EU compliant on certain grounds. When Parkinson pointed out that the Isle of Man’s new tax regime was identical in these disputed areas, Trott and Morgan assured the assembly during the debate that they had information that the Privy Council would be outlawing the Isle of Man’s regime within the next few weeks. The Privy Council subsequently did no such thing.

Trott also reneged on his promise to meet members of the public (who he had repeatedly described as a vocal minority) who were unhappy with the zero-ten decision, in December 2007, saying that he was going to attend his son’s school Carol Service instead.

GOVERNMENT REFORMS

In June 2015 deputies surrendered control over our government by placing it in the hands of a ‘super committee’ who will be at the beck and call of the business lobby groups like the Chamber of Commerce and the I.o.D. (also known as “The Illusion of Democracy”)

There will and has been be plenty of talk about what’s good for the economy, (also see the section entitled “The Jerseyfication of Guernsey”) but little talk of who will be in the economy.

The business lobby groups, which have lobbied hard for “Executive Government” did not oppose the proposals.

POPULATION PROPOSALS

My island has been, and is being, ruined by a greedy capitalist philosophy whose success is based on having resources which the island simply does not have. Why was the finance sector ever allowed to employ so many people, especially when its existence is dependent on decisions made by regulators and company directors outside of this island? Guernsey would struggle to be self sufficient even if the population were a sixth of the size it currently is. So increasing the population increases the island’s dependency on the outside world. Cue the cries of “our deputies don’t listen to us” and exit democracy.

Employers are allowed to employ incomers under the 5 year licensing system which was only created because they agreed that they would train local people during that time to replace the incomers when their licenses expired. Not only has that agreement been completely abused, and one of the worst employers in that regard is the States itself, but at the end of July 2015 it is distinctly likely that the States will hand over control over our population by agreeing that the decision on who gets a permit to move to the Island (and who they may bring with them) will be placed in the hands of the very same organisations through the advisory panel who will be sitting at the elbow of the office of the statutory official.

http://guernseylandlords.com/tag/a-race-without-a-country

No one gave any indication in their election manifesto that far reaching proposals such as these – Peter Harwood called the decision a “defining moment in Guernsey’s history” and Housing Minister Dave Jones said it was “the most important States’ debate since the war” would be brought to the table.

An increase in population is bound to put upward pressure on house prices. There has been scarcely any investment in affordable housing for local people during this term of Government, thanks largely to the influence over the Housing Department of the Treasury and Resources Department, whose Minister Gavin St Pier has no previous political experience and was proposed for election in 2012 by the then chairperson of the I.o.D, Anne Ewing.

Meanwhile in June 2015 the Commerce and Employment Department announced proposals to spend millions on a project to attract wealthy people to come to live in the island.

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SECTION 2: IN WHOSE INTERESTS?

It is no coincidence then that Guernsey’s two Governments since 2004 have been the most unpopular with the electorate since the German occupation. Other acts and policies which have been committed which have not prioritised the interests of the electorate include:

SIGNING OFF EU NEGOTIATION RIGHTS TO THE UK

In 2009, Chief Minister Lyndon Trott caused controversy by saying he was going to sign off the island’s negotiation rights with the EU to Westminster. States members were angered, but it turned out not by what he was intending to do, but because he intended to do it without debate in the Assembly. Once he agreed to put it before the House, they simply accepted it, without even considering the implications of the recently signed EU Treaty which surrendered record amounts of British independence to the EU. Did they seriously believe that the UK would have our interests at heart forever? There are plenty of people in the UK who think that Westminster doesn’t even have the British electorate’s interest at heart, never mind ours.

THE 2012 ELECTION CON

When the Guernsey electorate went to the polls in 2012 there was a rule which said that no politician with under 4 years experience could assume the role of Chief Minister. The current Assembly changed that rule on their first day in office and installed Peter Harwood as a result.

THE ONGOING JERSEYFICATION OF GUERNSEY

Jersey’s Chief Minister Ian Gorst wants a joint, Channel Island police force. Our Police Chief Patrick Rice, who has been granted control of both the Police and the Border Agency (which is itself a product of a merger between the Financial Intelligence Unit and Customs and Excise) changed our force’s crest and uniforms so that they closely resemble Jersey’s. There is more joint training in both islands. (For the bigger picture please see https://mattvocallocal.wordpress.com/tag/organised-crime/ )

The States reforms will mean that the system of Guernsey’s Government is more similar to Jersey’s than is currently the case. The current assembly continues to support the view that Corporation Tax was rightly virtually abolished to enable us to compete with competing offshore centres. Clearly then Jersey is regarded as a competitor. Yet the proposed reforms of the Guernsey Government, which more closely resemble the set up in Jersey, were designed in consultation with former senior Jersey politician Terry Le Sueur!

The Brussels office, which represents both islands, is therefore conflicted too at times.

The media are assisting in trying to convince us we are first and foremost channel islanders, and secondly Guerns. This ploy seems to have worked on Guernsey politician and former Treasury Minister and intriducer of zero-ten Lyndon Trott, who when asked about the austerity measures being introduced in Jersey which, despite growing profits in its financial sector, has a larger and still growing black hole in its finances than Guernsey’s following their respective introductions of zero-ten reportedly said:

“There is a long standing convention that current and former treasury ministers do not comment on the other island’s respective financial affairs. In this case it is probably best to stick to that convention in the interests of diplomacy”

This comment begs a few questions including:

1) If Guernsey and Jersey are such competitors fiscally (and elsewhere), why is there this “convention” Or are they both serving the same corporate agenda and are effectively in it together?

1) If Jersey is such a competitor island why not put the knife in and say “they’ve got it wrong” ?

3) LT said it was probably best to stick to the convention in this case. When do you stick to the convention and when don’t you?

4) So is LT, who a few back was telling us what a dyed in the wool Guernseyman he was, a deputy for Guernsey or for the Channel islands?

Whilst it was amusing to read in the Guernsey Press of this story from its sister newspaper in Jersey (hey –guess what – they are both owned by the Claverley Group) http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2015/07/08/1394553/ there is no doubt that the “news from Jersey” section in the GFuernsey Press is steadily growing larger. And as for BBC Guernsey – they managed to lead with a Jersey story (the alleged murder of Morgan Huelin) for virtually a whole day recently.

The Ana Leaf Foundation is a Jersey health charity which refuses to explain why it funds a St Peter Port amenities charity called the Town Centre Partnership, whose directors have held simultaneous roles in recent years including those of douzenier, deputy, senior constable of St Peter Port and senior roles within the business lobby groups.

Guernsey used to have a state run telecommunications company, which worked fine and was dirt cheap for the consumer. In 2002 the States, under pressure from Lyndon Trott and his colleagues in the trade and industry decided to sell it off. Jersey Telecoms is a private company which is now digging up our roads at the expense of local businesses. (My local corner shop’s milk bill was down 25% last week..I’d know – I supplied it.)

Then we have Guernsey FC, a private new football club which has played the biggest part in wrecking the structure of Guernsey football and adversely affecting domestic clubs’ results against Jersey opposition by sucking in the best players, coaches and sponsors and entering the UK leagues. Whilst Guernsey FC is not a brainchild of the States, it will almost certainly receive some benefit from tax payers via the Sports Commission, and has been in talks with at least one top Jersey player recently. Even though that story cooled, it is clearly not a dead issue. Deputy Garry Collins has recently proposed increasing the States’ funding of the Sports Commission.

And now the idea of synchronising election dates of the two Governments is to be investigated by the Guernsey States. Convenient for anyone who wants a One Channel Islands Government to evolve?

It seems as if the only members of the Channel Islands establishment who don’t want to link the two islands together is Condor Ferries whose regular cancellations for a myriad of different reasons have infuriated travellers.

WHO DO THE STATES OF JERSEY REPRESENT?

What are we to make of Jersey Assistant Chief Minister Ozouf’s reaction to recent news about increased profits in their banking industry?

The Jersey finance sector made £1.4bn last year, most of it, £1.2bn, coming from banking. And the Jersey people are supposed to be pleased about this apparently. Not only that, but despite the “boost to the economy”, public sector cuts are still necessary according to their Assistant Chief Minister. Who are they representing exactly?

Even a 10% corporation tax would have brought in around £1.2bn. And that’s just banking, not including other sectors of the finance industry or other corporate sectors of the economy.

I know the argument will be “but if we did that the banks wouldn’t be here” but

1) this is ordinary common or garden banking we’re talking about and there’s always a demand for that and 2) if all of the jurisdictions stood up to the corporate and agreed a fixed rate, or an approximate fixed rate of around 10% or 20% or whatever, instead of agreeing a 0% rate, all of the people in all of those jurisdictions would be better off –their money would be spent far more democratically.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:i_tTrpjHJswJ:www.itv.com/news/channel/update/2015-07-01/jerseys-finance-industry-profits-increase-by-a-quarter/+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

If you have a handful of bankers making millions each year, what do the restaurateurs do? – put their prices up. So it’s good news for them, but bad news for the rest of us. The trickle up effect is much greater, in my observation, than the trickle down effect.

http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2015/07/01/very-good-news-for-jersey-as-finance-profits-soar/

http://www.itv.com/news/channel/update/2015-07-01/290-million-boost-for-jerseys-finance-industry/

This is worth repeating. An island whose economy which is based around a finance industry whose sector which is returning growing profits, still has a growing black hole in its finances and is trying to recoup that by inflicting more austerity measures on its people

http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2015/07/14/black-hole-rescue-plan-targets-pensioners-christmas-bonuses-and-free-tv-licences/

http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2015/07/15/spending-cuts-why-are-old-people-always-targeted-first/

 

REGULATION OF OUR HEALTH IN THE HANDS OF BIG PHARMA

The MHRA is largely staffed by former executives from the pharmaceutical industry, and whose regulations and guidelines are funded exclusively by the pharmaceutical industry.

The Guernsey Assembly continues to choose to subject its people to the rules and guidelines of this foreign agency http://mhracorrupt.st/

ACCOUNTABILITY OF THE FINANCE SECTOR

This Assembly has continually failed to hold the Guernsey Financial Services Commission to account for issuing the Channel Islands Stock Exchange a record fine without explaining why, or to explain its role following the quite farcical goings on at Castle Holdings (see https://mattvocallocal.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/a-tale-of-two-transparencies/ )

Given that the States of Guernsey contributes large sums to Guernsey Finance to promote the industry, they have a responsibility to ensure that it is run properly and that the regulator has high standards of Governance. And if the taxpayers’ money given to Guernsey Finance is genuinely for the promotional cause as opposed to jollies for the boys, the GFSC should be making it abundantly clear to the world what actions have been taken in specific cases and in particular to avoid similar failures in future.

Then there are the strange appointments to senior roles by the GFSC of Dale Holmes (who took responsibility for the Lagan fraud (see below)) and foreign civil servant Andrew Sloan, who had left his job as senior economic adviser to the States in disgrace after assaulting a policeman in a Jersey hotel whilst on States business.

THE LAGAN SCAM

Then there was the Lagan fraud, when the States of Guernsey paid out millions of pounds on the strength of a phone call to a person who told them that he represented the contractors for the airport runway extension. The civil servant who took responsibility and resigned was subsequently appointed as overseer of risk by the GFSC. And the politicians had no say in who his replacement was (or replacements were as it turned out); it was all done by the civil servants.

CONNIVING WITH THE SAUDIS?

This Assembly employed a civil servant to lower the Guernsey flag as a mark of respect when a member of the Saudi royal family died, yet no candidate indicated a particular allegiance to Saudi Arabia in their election campaign.

OPENNESS, TRANSPARENCY AND THE SOCIAL SECURITY SHENANIGANS

Late in the life of the last term, Deputy Carol Steere attended an Anglo Irish conference. This was against the rules because she was not a Minister, but she went anyway. The Minister who was due to attend, Hunter Adam (HSSD) did not want to be seen going on a jolly ahead of the election. This meant that Steere missed the States vote on Social Security proposals which Adam was due to miss. Adam did not vote the way Steere would have done as a result of which the “have nots” in Guernsey society lost out in a tied vote 22-22, and the new Assembly, elected in 2012 was charged with developing the proposals.

When faced with criticism that his 2012 Department’s Social Security proposals were unfair on the lower paid, Minister Alister Langlois (who is also the Deputy Chief Minister) announced that there was a group of deputies who felt that the proposals didn’t go far enough. Langlois refused to name the deputies concerned, and not a single deputy came forward when asked if they were amongst this group, save for those who denied involvement therein.

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SECTION 3: PUBLIC REACTION

Unfortunately whilst the public in Guernsey are up for a fight, the majority can’t see beyond the end of their car bonnets and roads. As in the UK and Jersey, the focus is on minor matters such as whose calling who what names and what harm it’s doing, with the Press, Police Chief and some politicians keen to ramp up and focus on petty issues, petty crimes and petty rules. With so much distraction, the real enemies of society: corruption and duplicity, are being given ample opportunity to run riot without even the politicians noticing what is going on.

A TALE OF TWO TRANSPARENCIES

BENEFICIAL OWNERSHIP: A TALE OF TWO TRANSPARENCIES

Much has been made recently by the UK Government and media of the degree of transparency of the regulators and financial industries of the offshore centres. Here in Guernsey I have spoken to more than one person who takes the view that the UK are pointing at the splinter in someone else’s eye when they have a Giant Redwood in their own.

I’ll use one example of the transparency of Guernsey and one from the UK. Here is the Guernsey one:

http://guernseypress.com/news/2015/02/26/stole-over-500k-to-fund-lavish-lifestyle/

My investigation, as an ordinary citizen with 23 years of previous experience in the local finance sector, into who is or was responsible for regulation at and of Castle Holdings has hit hurdle after hurdle.

I am concluding that it’s no wonder there is such a reputation for offshore secrecy. The proper channels don’t work, and the media is increasingly leaving more and more gaps for us to fill and creating confusion. (For example, here the GP reporter knew that the owners lived in the IOM and didn’t report that, neither has it been explained whose money was stolen. The Island Fm reporter said that Nolan’s house had been sold to recover costs but this, according to the GP reporter who reported that Nolan lived in rented accommodation, is wholly wrong. He also told me that quite a few of the questions I am asking (see list below) were asked in Court. So it now seems that we are being required to do the journalists’ job and go and examine the Court transcripts. Are these available and can we obtain copies for free? It’s not entirely clear to me from this http://www.guernseyroyalcourt.gg/article/6868/An-Overview but it would seem to mean visiting the court during the day, and most people have day jobs. As I said, this surely is the job of journalists if they are to fulfil their “bringing accountability” duty to the community.

There are various Castle Holdings Ltds around the world and contrary to previous indications, I am told unofficially (but by two reliable sources) that it is the Guernsey one we should be looking at and that the company had its license rescinded by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission when the Castle Holdings affair came to light and that related information should be available on the GFSC’s site. But I’m darned if I can see it. I’m also told that Castle Holdings reformed under another name but my source couldn’t remember the new name. It was then suggested that if the GFSC’s site is anything like the FCA’s in the UK we should be able to trace the new company by keying the names of individuals because any proper regulator would have a list of the principals of each licensed company on the site, so you could key in the individuals name and see what companies they were principals of. There doesn’t seem to be such a facility on the GFSC site, although I’m no expert and it’s not a site I use regularly. But I shouldn’t have to be an IT expert should I?

Furthermore when the story broke and I started asking questions, “Go to the Companies Registry” said everyone. I am now told, however, that the Guernsey Companies Registry lags months, even a year behind -so that is not entirely reliable either.

Even the GFSC’s contact details are rather murky – no email address, just one of those automatic things when we are required to give our details. I have never ever received a reply from anyone when I have used this sort of facility on any website.

http://www.gfsc.gg/The-Commission/Pages/Home.aspx

You’d have thought, given the current issues with offshore secrecy and criticism of the GFSC itself, and all the talk about image and confidence in the industry and regulator, the Commission would have come out on the front foot when this story hit the headlines. Instead there has been complete silence.

Obvious questions arising from the initial Press report:

How did Castle Holdings not miss £550k in 70 payments over 13 months?

Whose money has been stolen –is it client money, or is it the owners’ money? (I later learned that the court was told that the owners reside in the Isle of Man)

Why aren’t the victims mentioned in the Press report?

Who is behind Castle Holdings?

The full report in the Press said that the Money Laundering Officer was the first to notice that something was wrong because she noticed that one of the transactions went through on a day on which the office was closed. Does this mean that Nolan had access to the office on days when it was closed?

Why were the systems which enable external transfers operable on days when the office was closed, and why was Nolan able to access these on his own?

If there is a Money Laundering Officer, that implies that the company is regulated. According to the Guernsey registry, the Castle Holdings Ltd registered here (and there are others elsewhere) is unregulated. So who is the regulator and why aren’t they all over this (or if they are, what are they doing and saying about it)?

Nolan’s first offence presumably was when he was still in his probationary period –where was the monitoring?

In my time in finance before the GFSC came along with its rule book, an outgoing payment would pass through the hands of seven different people. Is there a four eyes (never mind 14!) principle at Castle Holdings?

Where was Lee Nolan before coming to Guernsey? What was he doing in Guernsey between 2011 and joining Castle Holdings in2013?

Didn’t Castle Holdings query his lifestyle?

£40k was laundered by Nolan’s mates. Where did other £500k get paid to? Did those banks report suspicion?

Now the UK example, which I am mostly taking from the “UK Column”:

The UK Government has been declared the most transparent in the world by the World Wide Web Federation http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30883472 although it still has some way to go according to Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the WWWF.

Access to Government data has become the poster of the “Big Data” movement. The PR gloss equates openness with democracy; the more open a society is, the more democratic it is. Therefore the more Government statistics you publish, the more democratically you have been elected, and the greater the credibility of your claims to represent your electorate’s wishes.

But does openness really have so much to do with democracy? Is the Freedom of Information mechanism delivering better results now than people were able to obtain 20 years ago? I can say from my own experience that the FoI authorities continue to complete ignore requests regarding Guernsey Police Chief Patrick Rice’s potential involvement with Common Purpose when he was in the UK.

What Berners-Lee calls for is access to huge amounts of raw datasets. There are already around 20,000 datasets published at http://data.gov.uk/

The UK Column chose a dataset at random to see if the data available was useful to the public or journalists, seeing that it is these two groups with the most interest in holding Government to account. This is what the UKC wrote:

“The dataset chosen is “English Indices of Deprivation 2010” This dataset has an openness rating of 3 out of 5. The synopsis states, “the English Indices of Deprivation 2010 provide a relative measure of deprivation at small area level across England. Areas are ranked from least deprived to most deprived on seven different dimensions of deprivation and an overall composite measure of multiple deprivation.”

Opening the dataset file results in a table of data. The summary file says, “the file contains information about the LSOA level scores and ranks for the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010”

The table headings are: “LSOA Code”, “LA Code”, “LA Name” “GOR Code”, “GOR Name”, “IMD Score” “Rank ofIMD Score”. None of these headings are explained. If we take “LSOA Code” as an example, this stands for “Lower Layer Super Output Area” which is a geographic coding system created by the Office for National Statistics. The data.gov.uk website provides a dataset so that boundaries can be mapped. So that’s a second dataset which needs to be downloaded and processed in order to make sense of the first one.

The upshot of all this is that data has been published, yes. It is freely available and copyright free. But looking through this and other datasets available they are completely meaningless to ordinary people and quite probably, journalists.

So who benefits? The data.gov.uk site gives a clue: government websites and academic researchers, but mainly corporations such as Google Experian and Deloitte. It is this use of “open data” which should give cause for concern. It is certainly not “democratic”.

For the average man in the street there is no benefit. He still has to trust the organisations with the resources to process the data. Or not.”