Guernsey’s Chief Minister Peter Harwood has dramatically resigned this morning, a week after being named in a report by Private Eye over controversy at the Channel Islands Stock Exchange.
Mr Harwood – who stood for election in April 2012 and persuaded politicians there to change the rules to let him stand for Chief Minister in his first term – announced his resignation this morning after a crunch meeting with colleagues yesterday.
The Private Eye story focussed on a critical report about UK companies using the Channel Islands Stock Exchange for tax avoidance. Mr Harwood, a lawyer, was a founding director of the CISX while he was also chairman of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission – the island’s financial services regulator.
Mr Harwood’s ministerial colleagues on Guernsey’s Policy Council, their equivalent of the Council of Ministers, were due to discuss the report and its implications at a meeting yesterday.
Last year the Channel Island Stock Exchange had to restructure and rebrand as the Channel Islands Securities Exchange after an investigation highlighted problems, forcing it to temporarily close to new entrants.
In the resignation statement that he sent to Guernsey’s politicians, Mr Harwood said: “I have today tendered my resignation from the office of chief minister of the States of Guernsey. I have done so with regret but recognising the risk to the reputation of that office and the States of Guernsey caused by recent media interest in my previous role as the director of the Channel Islands Stock Exchange.
“It seems to me that uncertainty concerning the final outcome of the investigation by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission into matters pertaining to the Channel Islands Stock Exchange would focus unnecessary media attention on my continued role as chief minister, and that attention would be to the detriment of the reputation of that office and the Policy Council.”
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