Thursday, October 23, 2008

More people waking up to the link between tax havens and the financial crisis

We have made the case clearly why tax havens, and tax and regulatory competition, are right at the roots of the evolving financial crisis. We recently noted officials at the IMF and the OECD, and the leaders of France and Germany lining up behind our analysis.

Today, the FT has this:

"As recriminations fly over the world’s banking crisis, the role played by flawed tax policy may not escape scrutiny for much longer. Tax breaks that encourage debt and risk-taking may not be the prime cause of the conflagration but there is plenty of evidence that they added fuel to the blaze."

And then, a bit later, this:

"Tax havens are also facing criticism for oiling the wheels of the shadow banking system. They provided a tax-neutral platform for creating the off-balance-sheet structured investment vehicles that played a big role in the late stages of the credit bubble. The offshore centres can argue they were not the root cause of the crisis. But they are implicated in the wider failings of the regulatory system and financial institutions that used them."

We have had the legendary crime-fighter Robert Morgenthau agreeing with us. Now there's Jeffrey Owens, head of the OECD's tax department, saying:

"Jeffrey Owens, head of the tax policy unit at the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has called on governments to consider tax reform as part of their policy response, arguing that offshore centres should come under renewed scrutiny. “The key words are transparency and integrity,” he says."

Plenty of the offshore cheerleaders, such as from the Sovereign Society (whom we blogged yesterday) continue to brand all of these bodies - including the OECD, for goodness' sake, "leftist".

An offshore counter-attack is, inevitably brewing. The United Kingdom, according to Accountancy Age magazine, is scrambling to find ways to fight the pressure. They recently put in a shocking -- quite shocking -- performance at a meeting of the UN Tax Committee this week (which some TJN members attended; we will tell you about it before too long.)

Switzerland's newspaper 24heures had this to say:

"The 17 OECD states that declared the tax paradise hunt open will certainly target Switzerland," it said. "Nothing in this world lasts for ever – not even Swiss banking secrecy!"

Sovereign Society this morning, while peddling its "Swiss Secrets" captured the spirit:

"Take action concerning offshore financial matters rather quickly -- because time and your liberties may be running out. You really do need to think hard about what you should do now."

It's not going to be pretty. If enough people wake up, and stand up against this menace, the world may end up a better place.


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