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The Bahamas tax haven – a (re-)emerging global menace?

url Swag1-288x300Update: as it happens, The Economist has just published an excellent story about the Bahamas, subtitled The Bahamas Cocks a Snook at the War on Tax Dodgers. (Our only beef with that subtitle is that this is about so much more than just tax.)

We’ve periodically remarked on the Bahamas as a secrecy jurisdiction of great concern. Like Panama, it’s generally had a greater tolerance of dirty money than most modern offshore centres: more of a willingness to turn a blind eye and to overlook noncompliance by Bahamas-based actors of its own rules and laws.

The purpose of this blog is to flag up the Bahamas in a more pointed way: as a major wrecking-ball threatening global efforts to clamp down on cross-border financial secrecy.

The Bahamas has hosted an offshore centre for crime and tax evasion for decades, and it has historically had a higher tolerance for dirty money than most tax havens. Its secrecy score of 79 in our Financial Secrecy Index is one of the world’s highest. Treasure Islands summarises an important component of the Bahamas’ history and identity, via Chicago gangster Al Capone’s moneyman, Meyer Lansky:

Big bills: let’s recall them all

February 23, 2016   Blog
500 Euro

In the underworld, this one is known as the “Bin Laden”

In June 2014 we wrote an article about Big Bills: those high-value cash notes that are primarily of use to the world’s criminals (when was the last time you saw a 500 Euro note in the flesh, for instance?)   The countries that print them can literally make a killing from so doing.

Big bills have been in the news again recently, with proposals in Europe stop printing the damn things. A New York Times headline today summarises:  Getting Rid of Big Currency Notes Could Help Fight Crime.

Links Aug 25

Global Tax Avoidance: Who’s Responsible? Carnegie Council

Honduras makes Carlos Slim pay pay tax arrears of at least US$ 2.5 million Equal Times

Ex-Guatemala Vice President Baldetti Arrested in Tax Fraud Probe Bloomberg
See also: Guatemala’s Corruption Investigations Make Swift Strides The New York Times

Illicit financial outflows rise in Africa Daily News Tanzania

“They have their own people they want to blame” The Africa Report
“Corruption is truly collectivized. It must have a privately incorporated business, ideally with at least one shell company, management service company, special purpose vehicle or trust, and again ideally in a tax haven.”

Singapore private bankers and clients sweat loss of secrecy The FCPA Blog

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