Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Light touch London: criminals on private jets, we welcome you!

From The Guardian:

Thousands of passengers from all over the world arriving on private jets were allowed into Britain this summer without any passport checks as a matter of official policy, according to leaked UK Border Agency emails.

An abject, shameful disgrace. If you are rich, we don't care if you are a criminal: come to London, and we will welcome you! Yet more evidence, as if any were needed, of the rottenness at the heart of Britain's financial sector. To continue:

The internal reports show that immigration and customs staff were instructed not to meet passengers on private charter flights, including executive jets, as part of the "light touch" targeted approach secretly adopted this summer. . . . checks were downgraded 260 times in one week alone – potentially for hours at a time."

This is not a blanket waiver - but they know exactly who is flying in and out - and they can cut back on the checks as and when a wealthy yet unsavoury character appears. Then there's this:

UKBA staff protest that the "no checks" policy was "creating a situation where we are not able to secure the border as robustly as we would like to, for no justifiable reason.

Absolutely. Although we all know the reason: "we like the dirty money." Finally, from Treasure Islands:

Many others are attracted by Britain’s lax tax laws and the City culture of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’. In February 2010 Alexander Zvygintsev, Russia’s deputy prosecutor- general, said that ‘Londongrad’, as it is sometimes known, was ‘a giant launderette for laundering criminally sourced funds’.

This should be a resignation matter for the UK Home Secretary, Theresa May. However, so deep is the City consensus ingrained in the UK nation state now that she will probably get a mdeal for public service.

Now, in this general context, we refer back to an earlier copy of Private Eye:

"With the Treasury freezing dodgy Libyan, Egyptian and Tunisian assets, Home Office minister Damian Green chose a strange time to put out the welcome mat for foreigners with big wads of cash of uncertain provenance.

Under the same immigration proposals that will prevent thousands entering Britain to work or study, the requirements for permanent residence will be relaxed for anybody with £5m to place in a UK bank account, and made easier still for those with £10m to spare, mimicking the kinds of invitations more normally associated with shady tax havens. The smallprint even reveals that these conditions can be met by borrowing the money from a UK bank in the first place as long as the wealthy immigrant has twice that value of assets, which can stay offshore, in total. In other words, no new money has to be brought into the UK.

Given the UK’s lamentable record in tackling money laundering by the big financial institutions – no prosecutions of a bank, ever – the risk of the London laundry spinning even more quickly are obvious, though the Home Office’s “policy impact assessment” completely ignores this.

To some, however, easy settlement in the UK combined with the country’s ongoing “non-dom” tax break allowing offshore investments to go untaxed is a huge commercial opportunity. Among them are the ranks of private bankers and offshore tax consultants, one of whom was chosen by Green to endorse the plan in his press release."
Cross-posted from the Treasure Islands site


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