The Government’s arrogant, patronising and personal attack following the genuine concerns raised by the GSD as a result of Gibraltar’s ‘grey’ listing by the UK as a ‘high-risk’ country says more about them and what they are about than it does of the GSD. It is clear that power has gone to their heads and that they will not countenance any request for explanations or criticism. That the financial services industry is in “harm’s way” is not because of the GSD statements but because of the FATF grey-listing that has occurred under the Government’s watch compounded by some statements in Parliament which are, to put it mildly, inconsistent with subsequent events.
If, as Minister Isola states, the grey listing by the UK (independently of the FATF) of Gibraltar was inevitable following the FATF listing then he should have set out the position explicitly and clearly when he had the opportunity during his budget address in June. Such necessary clarity would have given the financial services industry notice of what was to come. However, his statements made no suggestion whatsoever that Gibraltar would be listed by the UK as a ‘high-risk third country’. It is no wonder that industry players have expressed surprise at the UK listing.
The undeniable fact is that Mr Isola’s statements have turned out to be, at best, inaccurate and, at worst, plainly misleading, if he knew on 29 June that the position was different in terms of what the UK would do.
He told Parliament that the FATF decision did not call for the application of enhanced due diligence measures and that the UK’s Treasury was ‘extremely supportive’. The implication of those statements was clear. They could only lead the industry to be reassured that the UK would be more sympathetic and not place Gibraltar on the high-risk enhanced due diligence list. This whole episode begs the question as to why did the UK – which post- Brexit runs its own list not dictated to by the European Commission – felt compelled to add Gibraltar to their, quite frankly, unattractive list of countries?
Either Mr Isola has been caught out so that this must be the explanation for his vitriolic attack, being, in his view, the best form of defence; or he deliberately gave a misleading impression in Parliament, full well knowing the UK was going to put Gibraltar on the “high-risk” list.
“The GSD has not played ‘political football’ with this issue and instead has made measured statements on the matter. That does not mean that we will not make public comment when – as is the case here – there is a marked inconsistency between the Government’s statement in Parliament and the reality. The GSD continues to urge and support the Government in any way it can to ensure that Gibraltar is removed from any such lists for the sake of our reputation as a financial services jurisdiction.” said GSD spokesman Damon Bossino.