Comments Guidelines

All comments are pre-moderated. No spam, slurs, personal attacks, or foul language will be allowed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gigantic Journalistic Investigation Begins Ripping Mask off Bank Secrecy

While Mitt Romney may be fading from view in the wake of his defeat on November 6, the issue of tax havens is definitely not following suit.

Via the Tax Justice Network, I've just learned of a massive, multi-national joint investigation into secrecy jurisdictions by three very heavy hitters, the Guardian, BBC Panorama, and the U.S.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Though they are starting out with the United Kingdom and the seriously understudied situation in the British Virgin Islands, ICIJ has announced that this is just the start of a multi-year investigative project and that there are "many more countries to come in the next 12 months." Further, according to ICIJ, the investigation involves literally "dozens of jurisdictions and in collaboration with dozens of media partners and freelance journalists around the world" (emphasis in original).

As I write this, the first and second articles (Nov. 25 and 26) in the Guardian's series rank number two and number one in the "most viewed" articles in the last 24 hours. One of the most amazing articles discusses the use of "nominee" directors, people who pretend to be a company or foundation's directors in order to hide the true ownership from authorities. Incredibly, these nominee directors frequently do not know the companies they are supposedly responsible for; they just know that they are getting paid for the use of their names. Be sure to check out the BBC undercover film linked from this Guardian article.

The tremendous scope of the journalistic investigation begs the question: where is government on this? Part of the answer is that government is way behind the curve. In 1999, the British government claimed to have stamped out a nominee sham colorfully named the "Sark Lark," for the tiny Channel Island of Sark where the nominees lived. However, it turns out that the perpetrators of the Sark Lark have simply moved all over the world to continue their scam; the BBC caught up with one former Sark resident in Mauritius.

The other part of the answer is that much of these activities are, in the immortal title of David Cay Johnston's book, "perfectly legal." It appears that in many cases governments do not make the effort to sift the illegal from the legal activities.

But let's not forget: tax havens cost the middle class worldwide hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue that they have to make up. The evidence is mounting that they are a central piece of the world financial system. Fundamental reform is necessary and a massive journalistic effort like this one will help produce the outrage to make it possible. I'm looking forward to more fruits of this investigation.

Cross-posted at Angry Bear.


  1. reddit linked this post - thanks for putting this out there

  2. Kenneth Thomas of Geotgetown. The same institution where the traitorous patriot act was penned. Written before 9/11 in anticipation of Project for a New American Century.

    FYI Do. Thomas our money is none of your business. Go to your North Korean communist utopia and cry to Kim.

    1. Except for the fact that I'm at Missouri-St. Louis and not Georgetown, I guess you've got me pegged.

      But perhaps you'd be happier in a country that doesn't have taxation?

    2. Yes a government that doesn't blow up 3000 of it's own citizens then enact a law where the president can blow off the head of anyone he doesn't deem worthy would be a good start.

      But please pay tribute to the Rothschild's banking ponzi scheme. Then you can smile when your children die on some Arab oil field knowing you did all you could. It just wasn't good enough.

  3. This is an off-topic query. What do you think about Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)?

    1. Don't know much about it, but your query has spurred me to start looking. As it happens, Mike the Mad Biologist ( a link to this intro to MMT ( today. Interesting stuff!