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Offshore banking secrets

In 1726, Daniel Defoe wrote, “Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believed.” Many others have quoted it since, so often that one would have thought that the only inevitable occurrences in life are death and taxes.

Alas, tax havens have allowed many individuals, banks and corporations to dodge paying taxes, leaving the bill to the less fortunate. 

How much is hidden in offshore accounts? According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, perhaps as much as $32 trillion. How do they know? They have the leaked documents, reported in a brilliant exposé called Secrecy for Sale.

“A cache of 2.5 million files has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over.”

Offshore banking exposed

The usual suspects

The documents name the usual suspects – bankers, oligarchs, African politicians and other mobsters – plus some celebrities and other well-known personalities. It also mentions some of the luxuries these people buy with their “tax savings.” It is a staggering account of the moral compass of the 1%. To quote G. K. Chesterton (and Dorothy Parker), “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.” It is thus no surprise that Daniel Dafoe’s famous “death and taxes” quote comes from his book titled The Political History of the Devil.

Further reading

Follow the offshore scandal as it unfolds on Secrecy for Sale.

The excellent book by Nicholas Shaxson: Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens.

For more on tax evasion issues, also visit Transparency International, 100 Reporters, Financial Task Force, US Offshore Compliance Initiative and The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Network.

10/04/2013. Category: Raves & Rants. Topic: .

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