Jersey closes suspicious payments probe

The Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) has completed an investigation into senior individuals at a trust company who have been linked to suspicious payments made to the foreign minister of Qatar.

The island’s attorney-general’s criminal investigation into the transfer of funds from Western defence contractors to a trust account which used to belong to the foreign minister has already settled.
The attorney-general’s concern was that the money transfers were bribes.

This followed a payment by the foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al Thani, of £6m towards the investigation costs, the JFSC’s enforcement director Gary Godel confirmed to The Lawyer last week (17 November).

In relation to the JFSC investigation, Godel said: “We’ve looked at the activities by senior individuals running the trust company. The next stage is to analyse all of the information.” He added that, while he has no powers to criminally sanction, he could use regulatory powers against the individuals.

He said he is also looking at “whether it [the trust company] ought to have received a licence under the new law”. This relates to the Financial Services (Jersey) Law, which made it a legal requirement from 2001 for Jersey companies to receive a licence. The trust company operated under transitional provisions until March 2003, when it received a licence. “We wouldn’t have given the licence if there’d been a problem with the senior management at the company,” Godel stated.

Previously, publicity relating to the transfers had pointed to Standard Chartered Bank as managing the trust. But last week Godel said the trust was owned by the financial institution ANZ at the time of the transactions and sold to Standard Chartered after they took place.