Monday, April 06, 2009

Eva Joly: G20, Berlin Wall and new book

The crime-fighting Norwegian special adviser and former Paris-based investigating magistrate - the woman who broke open the "Elf Affair", Europe's biggest corruption investigation since the Second World War, has written a new book, Des héros ordinaires.

In her judicial investigations which helped bring down some of Europe's most powerful and influential figures, she was routinely thwarted by tax havens, and has been one of the world's most outspoken critics of the offshore system for years. In her new book, she describes the fight against tax havens in terms of a "new Berlin Wall." The first chapter is dedicated to . . . John, le dissident de Jersey.

She has also just spoken about the recent G20 pronouncements, which we've been blogging (in French; rough English translation here.) Here are some snippets from an article based on an interview with her. The article starts like this:

"'The time of banking secrecy is over,' says the final declaration of the G20. A little presumptuous."

And it adds:

"We cannot refound the global financial system with tax havens in our midst. And some are in Europe: the most harmful are Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Cyprus and Gibraltar, Jersey and Vaduz. Not only do they promote the opacity of financial flows, but we also know that they are involved in money laundering "writes Eva Joly. Some appear in the black-list, but not all ... especially the City of London, which she regards as the greatest of them."

And she points out something we will be bringing you more information on, shortly:

"Eva Joly pointed out that to be effective, one should address the legal structures, the trusts, which allow them to hide the identity of their beneficiaries."

She is rather cynical about the French president:

"Contrary to what he is trying to suggest, Nicolas Sarkozy is not a white knight. His statements about going to war against tax havens contrast with this former business lawyer's attempts to decriminalize economic and financial matters. . . . The Executive, which has direct control over the prosecutors, is now talking of cutting the judges' wings. . . . At the same time, he has discreetly taken care to extend the coverage of the "secret-defence" (which allows the state to stop politically sensitive cases)."

She also makes clear recommendations for tackling corporate corruption:

"A real solution in her eyes is simple, and would cost nothing: to require listed companies which operate in many countries, to identify where they make their profits, and where they pay their taxes."

This notion, from TJN, is known as country-by-country reporting (find it here.)

This blogger hasn't yet read Joly's new book, but a section from the blurb, translated from the French, gives a taste:

"They come from all walks of life: journalists, policemen, government officials, bankers, ordinary citizens. Their names are unknown, but when you read their stories, you will not forget them.

In Paris, London, Naples and Sofia, they discovered the hidden world of corruption and financial manipulation. Because they were opposed to power, they have been living as if in a thriller.

One does not choose to put oneself in danger: it takes character and stubbornness."

If you read French, you might also enjoy this Le Monde article.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there an English Version, Des Heros Ordinaires?

3:43 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there an English Version, Des Heros Ordinaires?

3:43 am  

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