Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On the origin of the term "secrecy jurisdiction"

(Update: we've found an even older reference to the term from 1999, here)

Some people have credited TJN with coining the term "secrecy jurisdiction" as an alternative to "tax haven." It is a term that has been catching on reasonably well, and some tax havens, er, secrecy jurisdictions, have occasionally taken up the language, even if it is in the context of denial.

But we should like to point out that although we do like the term, and we have certainly helped popularise it, we didn't coin it: it seems to have originated in the United States. For instance, in a report by the U.S. Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on private banking and money laundering, we note:

"Guardian Bank would sometimes wire the funds to another Guardian correspondent account at a bank in a secrecy jurisdiction, such as Credit Suisse in Guernsey, before sending it to the next destination."

That report was issued in 2001, which predates TJN. There may well be older mentions (anyone care to find us an older version?) It would be fun to find out who did coin it. Credit where credit is (or not) due . . . .


Anonymous Richard Murphy said...


We did not invent the term - but we did define it, which gave it value

Secrecy jurisdictions are places that intentionally create regulation for the primary benefit and use of those not resident in their geographical domain. That regulation is designed to undermine the legislation or regulation of another jurisdiction. To facilitate its use secrecy jurisdictions also create a deliberate, legally backed veil of secrecy that ensures that those from outside the jurisdiction making use of its regulation cannot be identified to be doing so.

That's a big contribution to debate.

No one has ever defined a tax haven.

3:30 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home