Singapore - a good place for spivs to do business
The spiv culture lives on, nowhere more so than in the shadowy world of secrecy jurisdictions. The latest edition of The Strait Times - a Singapore based publication - carries an article titled "Singapore tipped to gain from crackdown on tax havens", which crows that as the rest of the world tries to crack down on tax evasion and other economic crimes, major banks operating out of centres like Singapore will benefit:
"Singapore and other global financial hubs will gain from the US-led clampdown by wealthy nations on cross-border tax frauds, bankers and analysts said."
And its not hard to see why the dodgy money is heading towards Singapore. The authorities deny the place is spivvy, but look at the legal environment it provides: strict banking secrecy laws, no register of trusts and foundations, neither company accounts nor company ownership details are placed on public record. On the regulatory side, the island-state is not rated by the Financial Action Task Force as meeting its compliance requirements, and on international cooperation Singapore has virtually no tax information exchange agreements (and even if it did have such agreements would not be able to honour them since little of the information required for effective information exchange is obtained in the first place). A tax evader's paradise, backed by a repressive state.
Not something to boast about, one might have thought, especially at a time when regulators are questioning whether banks contribute to social welfare.
But step forward Didier von Daeniken, chief executive of Barclays Wealth Asia Pacific, quoted in the article saying "the island-state’s long-standing strengths - including a well-educated and skilled workforce, top-class infrastructure and a well-regulated financial sector - made it a competitive financial and business centre."
Bankers. Don't you love 'em.
PostScript - Well whadya know? No sooner do we blog these comments on Singapore and along comes the World Bank with their 2010 Doing Business report which ranks Singapore as the best place in the world to do business.
¿Which planet do they come from? A standing joke in the fantastic Men in Black films, is that aliens granted entry visas to stay on Earth are parked into the US postal service so that the agency can keep a closer eye on them. Good gag, but the truth is stranger than fiction: the weirdest of the bunch seem to have ended up at the WB