Speech 7 September 2005
by Peter Neville,
Director General of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission
This session focuses specifically on what is called “the financial war on terror”. It is a dramatic title and one that reflects the seriousness of the threat we all face. I have just one small quibble with the title – this is not, in my opinion, as the title suggests, primarily a financial war. Instead, it is a war we are waging against the mis-use of the financial system for terrorist purposes. The weapons we use – and these are what characterise the nature of the war – are not financial. We may obtain information from the financial system but the weapons we use are the old tried and tested ones of intelligence, communication, firepower and engagement. In the main, jurisdictions have the firepower – in other words the powers to take action, such as freezing accounts – and they are fully engaged – in other words committed to preventing abuses if they can. My fear is that by losing sight of the need to review what we are doing in the areas of intelligence and communication we may be less effective in fighting terrorism than we should be.
Let me draw on another war analogy to make this point. I have heard it said many times that no battle plan survives beyond the point of first engagement with the enemy. My experience in contested financial services transactions and in regulating confrontational situations certainly bears out that assessment. As soon as you understand what it is you are dealing with you have to reassess your strategy and draw up new plans, to make sure you use your powers as effectively as possible.