Jersey regulator hits out at Woodford plans

Jersey regulator hits out at Woodford plans
  Neil Woodford, former manager of the Woodford Equity Income fund

The Jersey financial regulator has hit out at claims that Neil Woodford can use the island as a "back door" to restart his fund management career.

Speaking to FTAdviser's sister publication, the Financial Times, the director general of the Jersey Financial Services Commission said anyone hoping to carry out "regulatory arbitrage" through the island would fail.

It comes after Woodford announced he would be launching a new firm - Woodford Capital Partners - which will be based in Jersey and advise companies on their investments. It will not manage money for retail or advised clients.

Speaking to the FT, Martin Moloney said: "Anyone who gets off the plane thinking that Jersey is a soft touch has wasted the price of the ticket. Jersey is not the place to come if you are trying to get around UK regulation, or any other regulation for that matter."

He added Woodford’s announcement had "created the very false impression that Jersey could be used as a back door to gain access to the UK market".

Woodford's flagship equity income fund was suspended in 2019 after he was left scrambling to meet a wave of redemptions from the increasingly illiquid fund.

The suspension meant hundreds of thousands of investors had their savings trapped in the fund, which was eventually closed down.

Woodford announced his intention to make a comeback in an interview to the Sunday Telegraph but he had not applied for authorisation to the Jersey regulator before his interview.

Last month the JFSC said it was "disappointed" to have seen the announcement in the press before receiving an application for authorisation.

Moloney said the JFSC had a "very close working relationship" with the UK's Financial Conduct Authority and that no one would be given "the benefit of the doubt" if there was any uncertainty about their fitness and probity.

He added: "We would not want Jersey to be used by anyone to avoid the kind of protections, which rightly apply to investors in the UK.

"We aim for equivalent or similar outcomes in terms of the level of protection that our regulatory regime provides, and we actively consider the impact that businesses here can have on investors in other jurisdictions."

A Woodford spokesman declined to comment to the FT.