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  1. ITV Report

Channel Islands sign up to tackle tax evasion

Members of the British-Irish Council

The Channel Islands have signed up to a joint commitment with the British and Irish Governments to tackle tax evasion and abusive tax avoidance.

The commitment comes amid ongoing controversy over the use of complex tax arrangements by celebrities, wealthy businessmen and multinational corporations to minimise their liabilities, exposed in the so-called Paradise Papers.

The commitment was made during today's British-Irish Council Summit in Jersey.

Among those attending were the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and representatives from Ireland, the UK, the Isle of Man and Guernsey.

The island's chief minister Ian Gorst stressed that none of the activities exposed in the papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists amounted to illegal tax evasion.

They themselves have said that there is nothing illegal. The word 'evasion' has not been used at all, which would be a criminal offence if it had been taking place in any of our three jurisdictions.

We joined with the UK Government in committing ourselves to ensure that our island and financial services community are not used for what we might call 'rogue operators' and we continue to meet the very highest international standards and we'll work together to ensure that we continue to do that.

– Senator Ian Gorst, Chief Minister of Jersey

Members noted this was a global issue and required commitment from the international community to be effective.

Nicola Sturgeon said she believed that all the representatives present shared her belief in the need for proper tax transparency and the closure of loopholes.

We must have rules and regulations in place that properly promote tax transparency but also operate to close down any tax loopholes that people are using in order to unfairly minimise the tax that they pay.

I very strongly believe that the approach to tax should not simply be that wealthy people concentrate on how little they can get away with paying. The tax we pay funds our public services, but it also funds the infrastructure and the support that businesses need to create wealth. That's the social purpose of tax and this is a good opportunity to remind everybody of that.

– Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish First Minister

The British-Irish Council was formed in 1998 as a direct result of the Good Friday Agreement. It aims to promote positive relationships among its members and to provide a forum for consultation and co-operation.