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Newspaper exposes clients of Jersey wealth advisor firm

Thursday, 10 July, 2014

The Guardian newspaper has obtained the names of 20,000 people, including celebrities, who are said to be clients of the Jersey-based wealth management division of Kleinwort Benson or beneficiaries of trusts it administers.

The newspaper and its source, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, are careful to note that individuals they name are not accused of doing anything illegal. They say they are publishing details of 'carefully selected individuals' in order to 'further the public debate about off-shoring and tax avoidance'.

The named individuals include 'those who sought a legal tax advantage from offshore activities; those who received legal offshore windfalls from relatives; and foreigners whose tax declarations to their own authorities are often voluntary'. Many of the persons named are not and never have been UK residents or even had any strong connection with Britain, but The Guardian implies that they should have been paying UK tax anyway.

The newspaper's most critical comments are aimed at non-resident trusts. ‘The really big money is hidden in hundreds, possibly thousands, of anonymous, unregistered offshore trusts. The trusts' stores of capital gains and inheritance tax-free wealth provide a safe haven for the families of the rich, thus effectively blocking any attempts by UK governments at serious wealth redistribution ... Our research found Jersey trusts which husbanded billions.’ It cites as an example the Rockley family trusts, originally set up in 1985 to avoid the newly created inheritance tax.

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