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Banking

Gibraltar financial regulation: Cracks in the Rock?

Financial and legal insiders in the UK overseas territory of Gibraltar argue that it complies fully with international regulatory standards. But recent events suggest this might be wishful thinking. Eric Ellis reports.

TINY GIBRALTAR IS an ocean away from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, but it doesn’t take much traversing of the Rock’s lanes to get a distinctly Groundhog Day feeling that Bill Murray might recognize. Doing the rounds of the UK overseas territory’s tight-knit financial community, a visitor repeatedly encounters the same faces, nodding on multiple viewings as if they’re old chums. You’ll spot the regulator you just saw in his office later sipping a smoothie at Gib’s juice bar with his wife, gossiping with the banker you saw just before him. Presenters on a Sunday night chat show on the grandly named Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation – the BBC it isn’t – discussing the impact, or otherwise, of Spanish seagull droppings on Gibraltarian tourism turn out to be two local titans of the trust sector who, naturally, are chums with the banker and the regulator.

Since there is a surfeit of lawyers, Gib insiders call themselves a ­barristocracy and its lawyers and moneymen seem to have an intimate knowledge of a visitor’s comings and goings – where you’re staying, who you’ve just seen, what you’ve talked about and who you’re seeing next.

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