Scotland Yard preps criminal inquiry over diplomat conspiring with Cayman Islands tax haven
Britain’s former top diplomat on the Cayman Islands should face a criminal inquiry for allegedly lying to police investigating corruption in the notorious tax haven, a Scotland Yard review has concluded.
Former governor Stuart Jack has been cited for possible attempts to pervert the course of justice over a Watergate-style break-in at a newspaper office on the islands, according to documents seen by The Independent on Sunday.
In the latest twist of a tortuous dispute played out under the island’s tropical blue skies and courtrooms thousands of miles apart, the Metropolitan Police says there are sufficient grounds for an investigation into Mr Jack and two other senior officials. The head of a police team sent in 2007 to investigate the allegations accuses them of misleading him and effectively scuppering his inquiry, according to the letters.
The claims against the three, which Mr Jack strongly denies, amount to possible “misconduct in public office, attempting to pervert the course of justice and possibly wasting police time”, according to a letter from the Yard’s Commander Allan Gibson to the island’s current governor, Duncan Taylor. “It is my view the allegations are serious and contain sufficient detail to warrant a criminal investigation,” he said.
The letter – copied to Simon Fraser, the head of the Diplomatic Service – poses awkward questions for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO): any inquiry is likely to inflame a long-running controversy and embarrass senior diplomats, the Cayman authorities – and the Met. If it does nothing, it faces accusations of hypocrisy after David Cameron last week called on the Cayman Islands and other British Overseas Territories to show greater transparency in their tax affairs.
The FCO is already fighting in the courts to block release of a document that could blow the lid off its attempts to avoid blame for the original bungled police inquiry. It began as a leaks investigation and ended as a multimillion-pound inquiry into alleged police wrong-doing. FCO officials have declined to release an inquiry report because its “disclosure could lead to a loss of confidence within the international community which could impact negatively on the Cayman Islands’ reputation and, more directly, on its financial services industry”…
Today, the Caymans is one of the world’s biggest offshore trading centres, worth billions of pounds, based on zero taxation and banking secrecy. It comes second only behind Switzerland in the Tax Justice Network’s financial secrecy index. Enron, the failed US energy giant, used hundreds of Cayman-registered subsidiaries to keep billions off its balance sheets…
Although Scotland Yard has called for an inquiry, it said it could not carry it out because it was “conflicted” owing to its former officers’ initial involvement. It indicated a non-British force should be brought in.
We could loan y’all investigators from the IRS. They have loads of experience ranging from leaks to tax avoidance. Of course – most of that experience is designed to aid tax avoiders not prosecute them.
We might accidentally arrest a candidate for president.