I have been subject to some fairly predictable verbal assaults from some in the financial services industry over the last few days, especially but not solely in Jersey.
Sane people I know read what is said and dismiss the comments as being simple abuse, and not worthy of further consideration. I'm not sure I agree. Abuse it is, but it's abuse for a reason.
I was in Oslo last week discussing illicit financial flows. Raymond Baker was there too. Ray has a simple graphic of which I don't have a copy, unfortunately. But what it shows is that total illicit financial flows from developing to developed countries each year amount to between US$500 billion and US$800 billion.
This sum is made up of between US$20 billion and $US40 billion of bribery and theft. US$170 to US$240 billion is made up of criminal activity. Between US$350 billion and US$500 billion is commercial tax evasion. Most of all this happens, of course, through the world's tax havens.
Ray's evidence is strong. The World Bank now use his data. And as Ray puts it when referring to commercial tax evasion, which is the part of this flow it is easiest to stop:
I think this is the biggest abuse of the developing world and the world's poorest people since slavery
I think that's right.
In that case I can live with some abuse. But please never forget the real abuse that the commentators seek to excuse. It's the desire to end the tax abuse of the world's poorest people that drives the Tax Justice Network. And it's an abuse that may be ten times the annual aid flow.
That's why we say that anyone who is serous about tackling poverty has to be serious about tax abuse, the use of tax havens and curtailing the activities of the suppliers of corruption services.