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Jersey sets up a task force as it hits 1,000 asset-freeze designations


Jersey has hit 1,000 asset-freeze designations, and the most prominent individual among these is Roman Abramovich, who has a £1.5 billion loan from a Jersey company registered at Colomberie-based firm. []

And in response, a special task force has been set up; the task force comprises members of the Jersey Financial Services Commission, the States police and the government.

In a fast-paced investigation launched as the UK government hit individuals and companies with a range of sanctions and asset freezes, the newly-formed Island-based group made urgent inquiries about 613 people, firms and trusts. And it has drawn up a list of businesses that they deem to be at high risk of facilitating money-laundering or financing terrorism after spotting ‘sanctioned names’ in their customer base.

However, The task force declined to disclose the exact number of firms on the high-risk list or comment on individual cases.

Those on the list will now be closely monitored and could face enforcement action, including bans on operating or criminal prosecutions.

Speaking to the JEP during the taskforce’s first interview since its launch, Diane Maxwell, the JFSC’s executive director of policy and risk, said

  1. The entities contacted were given a week to respond to questions about their operations. We were asking specifically about data relating to Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.
  2. We would usually give them a lot longer than a week to respond, but 92% came back within a week. Returns were coming in at 9pm, 10pm, 11pm or at five to midnight,’
  3. ‘That tells us that industry responded. They’re taking it seriously and looking across their exposure.’

She added

  1. After the first wave of responses had been collected, the regulator assessed the results, which included data on 568 entities, and identified a list of ‘high-risk’ firms.
  2. ‘The risk team did a risk analysis and developed a list of entities and firms we would visit within a week.
  3. The supervision team then went in and did visits with that group.
  4. ‘We put them on a high-risk list because we went through the list and said, as far as we are concerned, they’ve got sanctioned names on their customer base.
  5. We’re sharing that with the Financial Intelligence Unit. We’re revisiting that group and after that comes enforcement.
  6. We’re seeing a lot of very good work and we’re also seeing a subset of entities that we’re not comfortable with and we’re going back to them.’

Ms Maxwell said that

  1. Dealing with the “absolutely unprecedented” level of sanctions that had been suddenly introduced was an opportunity to enhance the reputation of the Island’s financial services sector.
  2. ‘We’ve all felt that this is a moment in time for Jersey to step up and show that we’re going to protect and strengthen the reputation of Jersey, the international finance centre,”

Dan Marcos, head of compliance at the Government of Jersey, said that the number of sanctions against Russian individuals had multiplied several times in a very short space of time.

  1. ‘Under the Russia regime until the invasion, there were more than 200 asset-freeze sanctions in relation to human rights, corruption, the invasion of Crimea in 2014 and everything that’s been happening in the past eight years,’ he said.
  2. ‘Following the invasion, we’ve seen an unprecedented package of sanctions against a G20 country.
  3. We’ve gone to over 1,000 asset-freeze designations, and we’re expecting hundreds more.’
  4. At the end of this month, External Relations Minister is due to publish data on the value of assets frozen.