Offshore: Fears over liability in Crown Dependencies

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The Independent Online

An independent review into the British Government's role in supporting the banking systems of the Crown Dependencies and overseas territories was announced by the Chancellor yesterday in the pre-Budget report.

Mr Darling is concerned that the UK taxpayer will be forced to bail out depositors and investors in places such as the such as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man in the event that those territories suffer a banking collapse similar to the one experienced in Iceland earlier this year. Their tax regime adds to his concerns.

In his speech, Mr Darling said that "the British taxpayer cannot be expected to be the guarantor of last resort". Especially as the territories "attract banking customers with lower taxes – without contributing to the UK Exchequer".

The Isle of Man, for example, has its own depositor guarantee scheme, but the Chancellor is concerned that it might be unable to cope should a more serious situation develop.

Isle of Man and Guernsey-based customers of Icesave, the UK savings arm of the collapsed Icelandic bank Landsbanki, are still uncertain about how much of their savings will be recoverable.