That was the unequivocal message delivered yesterday by the Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache, at a meeting of French and Jersey politicians in St L? – a message that he hopes will reach the ears of France’s national assembly.The Bailiff revealed that a problem still existed in persuading the Island’s European neighbours – including the French – that Jersey wanted to be a good neighbour to Europe.But emphasising the ‘crucial’ part played by the finance industry in the Island’s economy, he warned: ‘Cet animal est méchant.
Quand on l’attaque, il se defend.’ This translates as ‘This animal is dangerous – when attacked, it will defend itself.”Jersey is not a safe haven for drug traffickers or money launderers or tax evaders,’ he said.
‘In fact, we have a sophisticated range of legislative controls and, more importantly, the means and the will to enforce them.’Speaking at the annual joint meeting of States Members and members of the Conseil General de la Manche, the Bailiff reiterated the ‘grave concern’ felt by the Island when a French committee reported in 2001 that the Channel Islands were the black holes of money laundering.’It was unfair and untrue,’ he said.
‘But the effect of such reports is to perpetuate the myth that Jersey is a weak link in the defence against organised crime.’He apologised for raising the matter at the meeting but he hoped the recent decision to set up a study group with the French national assembly and the Channel Islands would help to set the record straight.’I hope that it will be the means of dispelling many misconceptions in Paris as to the nature of the financial services industry in Jersey,’ he said.Sir Philip also used his speech to talk about democracy and the importance of staying in touch with the public.
‘This is the essence of democracy,’ he said.
‘In constituencies of 60,000 or 100,000 people, it is possible to hide from your electors.
But not here, nor in Jersey.’And the Bailiff praised the ‘innovative and concrete’ way in which the Conseil had approached the problem of transport between Jersey and La Manche.’For many years, we have recognised that two major problems were preventing the development of commerce between our two communities.
The first was the absence of maritime links, and the second was the problem of language.
Now, thanks to the initiative of the Conseil General, a maritime service between Normandy and the Channel Islands will begin next month and, as to the second problem, you are beginning to learn to speak English,’ he joked.