Geoff Cook

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Geoff Cook is the chief executive of Jersey Finance, the powerful lobbying arm of the States of Jersey.


Cook is the ex-Head of Wealth Management for HSBC Bank, based in London, where he was responsible for the delivery of Financial Planning Services to the 10 million HSBC customers in the UK.[1]

Today the sharp-suited, bespectacled Cook travels the world promoting the island’s finance ‘opportunities’ to the super-rich in places like India, Moscow, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Brasilia and the City of London. He and his associates extol the virtues of Jersey’s low tax status.

Jersey is not a tax haven

In 2009 Cook told the Guardian newspaper that Jersey had 'helped lessen the impact of the credit crunch by ensuring cash is "sent upstream" to the City of London. He defended the island against its tax haven label:

"We are not a tax haven. We do not have banking secrecy, we are a cooperative transparent, well regulated centre. We are tested by outside organisations and we have been found not wanting. If anybody thinks otherwise let them name names, bring evidence and I will happily notify the authorities."[2]

It is an oft-repeated mantra. In October 2011 Cook also declared:

In a career spanning over 30 years in financial services, which has taken me across the globe, I have discovered no jurisdiction that has such a commitment to truth, transparency and integrity as Jersey. Our reputation is everything, we guard it jealously, and defend it vigorously.

In November 2012 Cook found himself defending the island once again following revelations that his old employer, HSBC, now faces an investigation after a whistleblower gave a list to the UK tax authorities of all its account holders in Jersey, which reportedly included individuals with history of drug and gun crime. [3]

Why Britain needs tax havens

The comedian Jimmy Carr's tax scandal in 2012 came just days after Jersey had notched up yet another top industry award as ‘best international finance centre’. Once again Cook did his PR rounds, appearing on the BBC and other radio and TV news defending tax avoidance and trotting out the distinction between it and its illegal relative, tax evasion. He penned letters to the Guardian in protest and blogged on the Adam Smith Institute’s website on why the UK needs tax havens, and the well-worn but disputed argument ‘that small international finance centres such as Jersey are accelerators of global economic activity’. Cook called Prime Minister David Cameron's comments over Carr's legal tax dodging ‘unwise’, and swiftly pointed out the hypocrisy of how, just days beforehand, Cameron had said Britain would welcome France's 75 per cent tax for French high earners as Britain could benefit from them bringing their money here – meaning of course, our generous non-dom residency rules that allow rich foreigners to use Britain as a tax haven. [4]

Cook reserves special opprobrium for tax haven critics such as the Tax Justice Network, which ranks Jersey in the top 10 of its annual Financial Secrecy report. Without a trace of irony he dismisses it as ‘a special interest lobbying group’ that has got its figures all wrong. Similarly, he refutes the NGO Christian Aid’s research, questioning its motives for its ‘misleading’ work on tax justice, saying “this has been an effective revenue raising campaign for Christian Aid”. [5]


  1. Meet the team, Jersey Finance, accessed Dec 2011
  2. Nick Mathiason in St Helier, Jersey fears for a future without tax schemes, The Guardian, Monday 16 March 2009, acc 30 June 2012
  3. Holly Watt, Robert Winnett and Claire NewellHSBC investigation: Drug dealers, gun runners and Britain’s biggest bank, Telegraph, 08 Nov 2012, acc same day
  4. Geoff Cook, Tax avoidance boon or bane, Adam Smith Institute, 28 June 2012
  5. Business Connect video April 2012 panel debate with Helen Collinson from Christian Aid and others, YouTube April 2012, accessed June 2012