Jersey warns lawyers of laundering threat

Lawyers and accountants are being targeted by money launderers, Jersey's senior finance civil servant has warned as he unveiled proposals for a tough new anti-money laundering law for the island.

Colin Powell, States of Jersey chief adviser, warned a conference of 350 financiers in Jersey last week that money launderers were turning to lawyers, accountants and trust and company administrators as banks were becoming more vigilant about suspect money. “We must be vigilant,” he said.

Jersey's “chancellor”, Frank Walker, the president of the Finance and Economics Committee, said the money laundering law would go before the island's government in July.

He said its implementation was viewed as a matter of urgency if Jersey's reputation was to be safeguarded.

The new law will extend the reporting principles of Jersey's existing drug trafficking and antiterrorism legislation to all money laundering activities.

He told the delegates, who were hosted by law firm Ogier & Le Masurier and the Securities Institute: “We look to you to cooperate fully when this new law is implemented. If we are not as successful as the best in the world at combating money laundering, our reputation will come under threat.”

Stephen Hayward, a senior special agent at the US customs headquarters in Washington, appeared to give the island a vote of confidence when he told delegates: “Jersey is frequently mentioned during our investigations, but it is known to be a place where it is difficult to launder money. Plenty of criminals have looked at it, but then gone elsewhere.”