As a reputable international financial centre with full access to global markets, it is essential that the Island retains the confidence of its counterparties through the adoption and implementation of high regulatory standards. The Commission therefore attaches great importance to making sure that its policies and procedures conform to internationally accepted best practice.
The Island is a member of the Group of International Finance Centre Supervisors, of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, and of IOSCO . The Basel Committee and IOSCO are the main bodies responsible for the setting of international standards in the banking and securities sectors respectively.
A number of official international organisations have devoted much time to the assessment of offshore centres generally. This has been mainly to assess their practices against global standards to ensure that they do not present a weak link in the financial system generally. The Island welcomes this scrutiny, and indeed has benefited from the subsequent findings.
In 2008/2009 the IMF conducted a Financial Sector Assessment Programme (“FSAP”) on the Isle of Man covering the Island’s compliance with international standards for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, the Basel Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision and the Insurance Core Principles. The FSAP also covered stress testing in respect of both the banking and insurance sectors. The report concludes that “…the Isle of Man is broadly compliant with most aspects of the FATF recommendations…”, having continued to upgrade its requirements significantly. In addition, the report found that the Island has a general high standard of financial sector regulation and supervision, and a “very high standard of compliance” with the Basel Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision. The report also noted that “the Isle of Man authorities take their responsibilities in the area of international co-operation seriously”, citing supervisory co-operation, mutual legal assistance and tax information exchange agreements.
Previously in 2002 the IMF conducted an assessment of the Island's regulatory arrangements under its OFC programme. The IMF's Report confirmed that the Island "complies well" with international standards for the regulation and supervision of financial services. It concludes that the Isle of Man has a "high level of compliance" with international standards in such areas as banking, insurance, securities, anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.
It commends "the proactive approach of the regulators to achieve high standards in the financial services sector".
Following the independent report prepared in 1998 by Mr Andrew Edwards on the three Crown Dependencies, which commented favourably on regulatory practices in the Island, the Financial Action Task Force completed its own review of the Island’s defences against money-laundering. Its positive report concluded that the Island is a co-operating jurisdiction with measures in place which are close to full adherence with FATF recommendations. The Island has in place Memoranda of Understanding with a number of jurisdictions to underpin this, and wider issues of, co-operation.
Meanwhile the Financial Stability Forum also considered the effect which offshore centres generally can have on global financial stability and in April 2000 issued its Report of the Working Group on Offshore Centres. It canvassed opinion among major countries on the strength of regulatory practice in the different centres, and it was very pleasing to note that the Isle of Man was placed in the top group of centres reviewed. This type of independent confirmation of how the Island’s regulatory system is perceived to be working in practice, is an important test of effectiveness and compliance.
The Island has also worked closely with the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, particularly in support of its Offshore Initiative.
The Island has received confirmation that it has been moved to a list of countries approved by the US Internal Revenue Service under its Witholding Tax legislation. Broadly, the legislation requires local financial institutions to apply for Qualified Intermediary Status if they wish to invest in US securities and claim exemption from US Witholding Tax for their clients.
More recently the Island has been included on the OECD ‘white list’ of countries complying with the global standard for tax co-operation and exchange of information. The list, produced following the G20 summit in London, places the Isle of Man in the top tier of jurisdictions – along with nations such as the UK, USA, Germany, France, Sweden and Ireland – that have ‘substantially implemented the internationally agreed tax standard.’
The Isle of Man has also announced that it will move to automatic exchange of information within the EU in its application of the European Union Savings Directive (“EUSD”), putting it at the forefront of international tax co-operation and transparency allowing for free exchange of information between countries. This new tax policy will take effect from 1 July 2011 and will mean that the withholding tax option currently available to customers having accounts with Isle of Man banks by virtue of transitional arrangements in the EUSD will be withdrawn.