Date Released: 25 February 1999
A COMPARISON between Resident Abroad editorials in February 1998 and 1999 reveals a vast transformation in Gibraltar's image as a finance centre.
Under the headline 'Gibraltar on the rocks', RA said in February last year: "You don't have to look hard to find an offshore financial centre with a turbulent past and an uncertain future. Cyprus is an obvious example but Gibraltar has been hitting the headlines too."
Resident Abroad at the time referred to Gibraltar's "troubled reputation", and went on to state that "Gibraltar's close links with Britain are proving to be both a blessing and a curse".
A year later, the RA headline now reads: 'Gibraltar - a unique selling proposition'. Resident Abroad now believes that "Gibraltar is able to offer what advertising folk call a unique selling proposition: it is the only offshore centre to combine British Dependent Territory status with membership of the European Union."
"It also stands out from other offshore centres in that it is within spitting distance of its clients.... Ever since the Barlow Clowes scandal, Gibraltar has worked hard to clean up its image as a reputable offshore centre. Its Financial Services Commission regulates not only financial services business, but also covers activities such as company management, provision of trusteeship and insurance broking."
RA further points out that Gibraltar is "the only offshore centre to have introduced all-crimes money laundering legislation" and that a bank deposit compensation scheme is due in the immediate future.
The Minister for Trade and Industry, Peter Montegriffo, tells RA: "High standards of regulation and a firm commitment to fighting international crime are vital if quality offshore centres like Gibraltar can continue to persuade the international community that they make a valuable contribution to the world economy."
Regarding the potential impact of EU tax harmonisation, Albert Poggio of the Gibraltar Information Bureau in London tells RA that the issue is a "storm in a teacup". He adds: "It's early days, and at this stage it isn't anything to worry about - certainly not until it becomes a firm proposal."
The Minister echoes this view. "Constitutionally it's a matter of domestic competence", he says "and anyway, such proposals would not be legally binding".
Despite the inexplicable attempts by a certain local player to talk down the local finance centre, the change in tone from February last year to February this year shows how far Gibraltar has progressed in radically transforming its image.
Anthony Fisher Finance Centre Development Director Department of Trade & Industry Government of Gibraltar Suite 771, Europort Gibraltar Tel No: + 350 50011 Fax No: + 350 47677 E-mail: Click Contact Link Website: Click Contact Link
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