The Gibraltar authorities have a tough regime ready for the unscrupulous, says Elliot Lane

Gibraltar is not offshore, it is onshore. This was the message drummed into the press contingent last week by the domicile's finance centre.

Financial services companies moving into the region get easy access to Spain and the rest of Europe through passporting rights. They also get a nice lifestyle; sailing, skiiing, golf and constant sunshine. Though skiers and golfers will have to cross the border into Spain.

The Gibraltar PR machine is in full motion. Five reviews by various financial regulators across the world mean that Gibraltar's Financial Services Commission is kept busy. As such it is "the most regulated regulator on the planet". A frustrated FSC chairman Marcus Killick says: "I just wish we could get on with the day job."

Gibraltar is trying to distance itself from, what Killick refers to as the tax haven "basket cases" and the "dirty money" stigma that comes with the offshore environment. Rules are being tightened and the general feeling is that those who set up operations two or three years ago did so under a regulatory regime which was "too thin". These entities are being watched carefully.

Lloyds TSB has helped many on the Rock with capital and shored up many solvency issues.

According to finance centre director James Tipping the problem remains on the "Costas", where unscrupulous shysters prey on the expat community and claim to be licensed in Gibraltar.

But Gibraltar is "policing its perimeter" and is ready to enforce, if necessary, fines and injunctions. So shysters beware.