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Chief Minister defends wealthy immigrant vetting process

Chief Minister defends wealthy immigrant vetting process

Friday 16 December 2022

Chief Minister defends wealthy immigrant vetting process

Friday 16 December 2022

The current panel of politicians responsible for vetting high-value residency applications are “rather more assiduous” than their predecessors, the Chief Minister has claimed after the former Housing Minister shared strong concerns over how the process had operated previously.

Deputy Kristina Moore’s defence came in response to allegations made by Deputy Sam Mézec, as he argued that the ‘2(1)E’ scheme should be suspended while the Government reviews it in yesterday’s States Assembly meeting.

His proposal – an amendment to the Government Plan - was voted down by 33 votes to 15.

While serving on the Housing and Advisory Group (HAWAG) for two years during the term of the last Government, Deputy Mézec said he had encountered applications presented without police checks, and that Google searches of some applicants had unearthed reputational concerns relating to their spouses.

The Reform Jersey leader also alleged that he had encountered attempts to use the high-value residency scheme as a way of avoiding the usual employment licensing process.


Pictured: Reform Jersey leader Deputy Sam Mézec said there was widespread acknowledgment that the high-value residency scheme was operating in a "sub-optimal" way.

Responding, Deputy Moore assured the Assembly that the current HAWAG did not shy away from asking questions of applicants – something she said had "led to disgruntlement from some quarters".

She emphasised that her Government had made a "clear commitment" to bring forward new rules in 2023, but said that she didn't agree the scheme should be suspended in the interim over concerns that it would not be fair to the approximately seven people whose applications are currently pending.

Speaking against the motion, External Relations and Finance Minister Deputy Philip Ozouf claimed that among the current applicants were individuals ready to open "green funds" and other "innovative" financial products, which could potentially generate "hundreds of millions of pounds" for the island.

Economic Development Minister Deputy Kirsten Morel spoke of 2(1)Es' contribution to arts and culture, while Assistant Minister for Sport, Deputy Lucy Stephenson, relayed concerns from the sports community about any potential scheme suspension owing to the "large financial contributions" they said were made by wealthy immigrants.

Deputy Rob Ward said he was concerned that a more "sustainable" funding solution couldn't be found for sport, as he argued that suspending the scheme would be the "prudent" thing to do before Ministers decide on a new and improved version.

In a short speech, Deputy Moz Scott said she did not think "now is the time to kick away one of the legs [of Jersey's economy]."

St. Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft, who ultimately abstained from the vote, said he was no longer convinced by arguments relating to "trickle-down economics".


Pictured: As of the end of last year, there were 184 people living in Jersey who had been granted 2(1)E status since 2005, while 23 applications were approved during 2021.

Deputy Andy Howell lauded the charitable contributions made by high-value residents, while Grouville Constable Mark Labey highlighted the former farming properties that were now a "great credit to their parishes" having been taken over by high-net-worth individuals.

Deputy Montfort Tadier questioned whether it was fair that a Jersey-born constituent of his who wished to move back to the island after many years away to look after her elderly mother was denied the opportunity to buy property locally, while wealthy individuals could avoid the "10-year waiting list".

Similar concerns about Jersey-born individuals who may "fall through the cracks" of the island's Housing Law were raised by Assistant Chief Minister Deputy Alex Curtis, who broke ranks to vote in favour of the amendment.

Summing up, Deputy Mézec asked States Members to consider "what message it sends out to allow a scheme which it seems everyone agrees is sub-optimal" to continue while a review into whether it required improvements remained ongoing.

Turning to those whose applications remain pending, he added that it was a "privilege, not a right" to come to Jersey, and that they should reapply as and when new rules are in place.

However, the amendment was defeated.


POUR: Constables Mike Jackson and Karen Shenton-Stone, and Deputies Carina Alves, Tom Coles, Catherine Curtis, Alex Curtis, Lyndsay Feltham, Mike Jackson, Hilary Jeune, Raluca Kovacs, Mary Le Hegarat, Sam Mézec, Beatrix Porée, Geoff Southern, Montfort Tadier, Rob Ward.

CONTRE: Deputies Steve Ahier, Max Andrews, Sir Philip Bailhache, Rose Binet, Tom Binet, Louise Doublet, Lyndon Farnham, Malcolm Ferey, Inna Gardiner, Ian Gorst, Andy Howell, Carolyn Labey, Stephen Luce, Helen Miles, Elaine Millar, Kristina Moore, Kirsten Morel, Philip Ozouf, Jonathan Renouf, Moz Scott, Lucy Stephenson, Barbara Ward, David Warr, Karen Wilson, and Constables Richard Honeycombe, Andy Jehan, David Johnson, Mark Labey, Philip Le Sueur, Kevin Lewis, Deirdre Mezbourian, Marcus Troy, Richard Vibert.

ABSTENTION: Constable Simon Crowcroft.

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