Why Does No One Speak of America’s Oligarchs?
Overdressed Naked Capitalism
One of the striking elements of the demonization of Cyprus was how it was depicted as a willing tool of Russian money launderers and oligarchs. Never mind the fact, as we pointed out, that Cyprus is not a tax haven but a low-tax jurisdiction, and in stark contrast with the Caymans and Malta, has double-taxation treaties signed with 46 nations and has (now more likely had) with six more being ratified. Nor is it much of a tax secrecy jurisdiction, according to the Financial Secrecy Index. Confusingly, in the overall ranking, lower numbers are worse (Switzerland as number 1 is the baaadest) but in the secrecy score used to derive the rankings, higher is worse, with 100 being utterly opaque. The total rank is a function of “badness” (secrecy score) and weight (amount of business done). You’ll notice that all the countries ranked as worse than Cyprus have secrecy scores more unfavorable than it, with the exception of Germany, which is a mere 1 point out of 100 less bad, and the UK, which scores considerably lower (Nicholas Shaxson, author of Treasure Islands, would take issue with that reading, but he takes a more inclusive view of the boundaries of a financial services industry. For the UK, thus he not only includes the “state within a state” of the City of London, but also the UK’s secrecy jurisdictions, such as the Isle of Man, in his dim view of the UK as well as the US on secrecy). And even so, its greater volume of hidden activity gives it a much worse overall ranking. Of countries 21 tp 30, only 3 rank as less bad on secrecy: Canada, India, and South Korea.
With Germany holding fast to the line that the ESM must not take on “legacy” debts in Ireland or any other country, France is pushing hard for a bigger effort to break the link between bank and sovereign debt.
The French position will strengthen the Government’s hand after a week in which Germany aligned with Finland and the Netherlands to say the ESM should bear only losses incurred under the fund’s supervision.
The divisions between Germany and France over Ireland come as they move together to advance plans for a European tax on financial transactions. Following the failure to achieve unanimous EU backing for such a tax, the two countries sought support yesterday for an “enhanced co-operation” procedure in which a group of at least nine like-minded states would move ahead together.