Labour leader Ed Miliband is under fire from Britain’s overseas territories, after he threatened to put them on a tax haven blacklist.
The latest row comes after Miliband wrote to the territories, threatening that they will be listed as tax havens, and consequently incur sanctions, if they fail to compile a list of offshore companies within six months of Labour taking office.
Fabian Picardo, chief minister of Gibraltar, reacted angrily to the publication of the later, saying it had been published before he had received it, and claiming that he and other overseas territories leaders had been “seeking a meeting to discuss this very issue” back in December, but had not heard from Miliband’s team.
Deputy St Pier of Guernsey also responded: “Guernsey is also one of the very few jurisdictions in the world that regulates trusts and corporate service providers in order to provide timely and robust beneficial ownership information.”
The disagreement comes after several days of jousting between the Labour leader and British business, following an outspoken attack from Stefano Pessina, the acting chief executive of Walgreens Boots Alliance.
Yesterday Sir Martin Sorrell, the WPP boss, was reported to have said the upcoming election is “a conundrum for business.”
“Labour won’t have a referendum but you might have a regime that is more negative to business, and a referendum makes a Conservative vote that much more difficult.”
Miliband has also faced criticism from the former chairman of Northern Foods, Lord Haskins, who has advised Tony Blair, and the chief of manufacturing giant Caparo and New Labour Donor Lord Paul. Former B&Q chief Sir Ian Cheshire has also weighed in. In an interview, chancellor George Osborne said the rows prove Miliband “is not fit for office”.
Dear Ed,Please forgive me for writing to you at the weekend but you will be as disappointed as I am that I have had to read in the newspapers about a letter you have purportedly sent me. I have no doubt that you will not have wanted the discourtesy of seeing the said letter published before Overseas Territories leaders have received it, which I certainly have not.... I should say that this was exactly the issue that all the leaders of the Overseas Territories wished to discuss with you in early December during the Joint Ministerial Council in London. We wrote to your office seeking a meeting to discuss this very issue with you. We are unfortunately still awaiting a response.... We are falling immediately on the side of ensuring even easier and enhanced access to law enforcement agencies to relevant information about corporations established in Gibraltar than already exists, rather than simply falling for gimmicky and headline grabbing initiatives that may turn out to be wholly counterproductive....Gibraltar companies and other entities do not benefit from any form of secrecy whatsoever. This was confirmed by the OECD Phase 2 report that awarded Gibraltar the second highest rating possible as regards transparency and effectiveness of exchange information in practice. Our rating was the same as that received by the UK and Germany!