Vladimir Putin, the KGB and the British and Swiss tax havens

   2   0 Blog, Corruption

PutinFrom the New York Review of Books, a look at a book called Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russiaby Karen Dawisha. The review itself is fascinating, and for TJN this paragraph is particularly interesting:

“Dawisha nevertheless argues that the KGB’s return to power begins not in 2000, when Putin became president, but in the late 1980s. At that time, the then leaders of the KGB, who distrusted Gorbachev, began transferring money that belonged to the Soviet Communist Party out of the Soviet Union and into offshore accounts tended by Swiss or British bankers. At least initially, these transfers took place with the Party’s knowledge.

In August 1990, the Central Committee called for measures to protect the Party’s “economic interests,” including the construction of an “invisible” structure, accessible only to “a very narrow circle of people.” KGB operatives who already had experience with managing foreign bank accounts—they’d been funding foreign Communist parties for decades—were put in charge.”

It’s a story positively writhing with offshore tax havens, secrecy, and the usual suspects: Britain and its dependencies, and Switzerland. We have noted, among other things, that the Euromarkets — the great, secretive deregulatory questions-free London-centric zone of free global finance — was fueled almost from the very beginning by Soviet banks looking to escape U.S. sanctions.

Once again, we have to ask ourselves in the West the question:

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Who is the Most Corrupt of All.

One very good answer to that question, of course, is here.

Read more on this general subject here.

Related Posts

UN must defend target to curtail multinational companies’ tax abuse

Photo by Luca Santori, Creative Commons LicenseThe Tax Justice Network, The Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, and the Global Alliance for Tax Justice call on the UN Secretary General to make sure the commitment to action on tax abuses by multinational companies remains part of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals.


The BVI: Responsible for worldwide tax losses of $37.5 billion a year

BVI report blogAn extraordinary report by consultants Capital Economics, for BVI Finance, claims that the British Virgin Islands are responsible for $1.5 trillion of assets invested around the world, and that these result in 2.2 million jobs and $15 billion in tax revenue. A better approximation would be that the BVI imposes global tax losses of $37.5 […]


Event: Making Tax Work for Women in the UK and Globally

Invitation_ Tax and Gender eventOn Wednesday 28th June 2017 at 16.30 our very own Liz Nelson will be speaking at an event in London that aims to bring together gender and tax justice advocates to highlight the need for coherent and gender-responsive fiscal policies to safeguard the rights of women and girls both in the UK and globally. The […]


Historic event on women, human rights and tax justice in Bogota

BogotaLast week civil society organisations, researchers, labour union activists and policy makers met in Bogota, Colombia to explore how tax justice issues can ensure governments, multinational corporations and others meet their obligations to women in order to secure their full range of human rights. The Women’s Rights and Tax Justice conference opened with a conversation […]


The Offshore Wrapper: the Panama Papers, one year on

Photos from the Protest outside PwC 1 Embankment Place, part of the Global week of action for tax justiceWelcome to the Offshore Wrapper – your weekly update from TJN.  Happy Paniversary! This week it’s been one year since the Panama Papers were leaked, and a number of organisations around the world have been marking the occasion though the global week of action for tax justice. In London, activists from the TJN and the […]


2 thoughts on “Vladimir Putin, the KGB and the British and Swiss tax havens

  1. Wladimir says:

    The first postwar offshore transaction in London was conducted by a Russian bank, its wire name was Eurobank, hence the birth of the euromarkets…

    • Nick Shaxson says:

      Not quite so: the Russian banks came in about a year or two after the first transactions in 1955, which some trace to the activities of Midland Bank (now HSBC). But they were certainly there very early and the transactions were of course rich in irony.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top