The controversy surrounding the so-called Paradise Papers is merely a “well-planned, ongoing political campaign”, Guernsey’s chief minister has told Sky News.
The documents, which were obtained and analysed by a range of worldwide media organisations, relate to the financial affairs of some of the world’s top business people, companies and well-known figures.
The publication of the records has led to allegations over taxes paid by the Queen’s private estate, shares held by US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, and a helicopter leasing deal set up by advisers of British F1 champion Lewis Hamilton.
However, the chief minister of Guernsey, where money is often invested before being filtered into the UK, has accused those behind the publication of the records of “pushing an agenda that isn’t either to do with tax or morality”.
Image: Gavin St Pier pictured with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Gavin St Pier told Sky News: “The timing of this is not accidental, it has been timed to coincide with the meeting of the European Council of Finance Ministers, where undoubtedly they will trot out and tell the UK that they need to get their house in order with the crown dependencies and overseas territories.
“That is simply because the UK financial services industry, of which we are a part, is the most competitive and successful in Europe.
“It is very much playing to the European agenda, particularly at this time with Brexit.”
Image: Lewis Hamilton has been accused of avoiding tax on a private jet worth £16.5m
Describing Guernsey’s financial services sector as “a funnel for foreign direct investment in the UK”, Mr St Pier said the Channel island was vital to the British economy.
“There are literally tens of thousands of jobs in the UK which depend on us doing our jobs and doing it properly.
“That is of substantial value to the UK’s exchequer. We are a symbiotic and important part of the UK’s economy.
“That is not a convenient narrative for the EU at this particular time. It is not about the rich getting richer, the rich will be paying their taxes when and where they are due.”