A $15bn New York investment company has used anonymous offshore companies to profit from some of the largest short-selling attacks in Europe over the past three years, including the unravelling of the UK company Quindell.
A Financial Times investigation can reveal that Tiger Global, which runs one of the world’s largest hedge funds, has used Cayman Islands based shell companies to make large bets against at least 12 European companies since 2012.
As the FT says, this very obviously raises concerns about the effectiveness of new European rules aimed at forcing disclosure of those who are shorting markets.
But the reality is that what this really proves is exactly why we need publicly accessible registers of the beneficial ownership of all companies around the world, including in the Cayman Islands, who are holding out against them. This activity distorted markets. It undermined fair competition. The outcome is widely considered by many to be harmful. And none of it would have been possible if there had been an open and level playing field on which all operated, including basic data on who was undertaking trades, which is the pre-requisite of fair competition.
I’ve made the point before and I will, no doubt, make it again that what the tax justice movement demands (like beneficial ownership registers) are nothing less than the essential conditions for fair markets. It is those who oppose us who also oppose effective and fair markets, the Cayman Islands included.