Tax havens stink

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When the Economist ran a special feature on tax havens earlier this year they said:

Today's successful tax havens thrive not because of crockery, but because they are well run and well regulated

As Nick Shaxson, an adviser to the Tax Justice Network shows on a blog published today, this is about as far from the truth as it gets:

Anyone tempted to swallow this laughable claim could start by reading "The Plot Thickens" on p38 of the hard copy latest edition, outlining how Britain's rulers have knocked down the police and the Serious Fraud Office to squash a corruption probe into arms sales to Saudi Arabia by the arms firm BAE Systems. The Guardian newspaper covers this in more depth: to get a flavour of the tax haven angle, try, for example, "Questions Over Secret Bank Transfers;" starring the British Virgin Islands; "Nobbling the Police," featuring Jersey and Switzerland and the now-infamous Riggs Bank in Washington; or "Prince used cash in BAE-linked account for palace," involving Saudi Prince Bandar, the Vatican Bank, Riggs Bank, the Pope, Margaret Thatcher, the head of the CIA, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea.

As Nick says:

This is just a taster of this byzantine unfolding affair, which one might describe as the Anglo-Saxon version to the Elf Affair in Paris: oil, arms, corruption in both oil producing and oil consuming countries, and, yes, tax havens at the heart of it all.

But guess what. In its write up of the action the Economist ignored the tax haven dimension. I guess that keeps those who advertise their offshore services within its page happy, but it's far from being objective reporting.