The IMF is undertaking reviews of many offshore territories in 2008 with regard to their money laundering compliance.
Jersey is rolling out new legislation every few days as a result - which is sure evidence for me that external pressure works. And they have prosecuted one unqualified accountant for money laundering, which follows the normal pattern amongst the professions of picking on a sacrificial lamb.
Now the Isle of Man is doing the same, bringing forward money laundering charges against a person called Trevor Baines, who is #462 on the Sunday Times rich list, apparently, and his wife.
As the local report says:
MULTI-millionaire Trevor Baines has appeared in court charged with money laundering offences. Mr Baines, 67, who was ranked 432 in the Sunday Times Rich List this year with a fortune of £162 million, was bailed in the sum of £750,000 - with his mansion home in Douglas, Africa House, put up as security.
He is charged with - between June 1, 2001, and October 3, 2001, in the Isle of Man or elsewhere - knowingly or suspecting that Roys Spyros Poyiadjis was and had been engaged in criminal conduct, being concerned with others in an arrangement whereby the retention and control on or behalf of Mr Spyros of the proceeds of criminal conduct of Mr Spyros was facilitated by the deposit of about $20,000,000 in accounts at the Isle of Man Bank, of about $175,000,000, in accounts at Flemings Isle of Man Ltd, transfers from such accounts at Standard Bank Isle of Man Ltd and by order withdrawn from such accounts.
Now his wife has also been charged as well, the report saying:
THE wife of tycoon Trevor Baines has appeared in court charged with false accounting.
Wendy Nicolau De Almeida Baines, 49, a company director of Africa House, Woodbourne Road, Douglas, is alleged to have, on or about May 31, 2001, in the Isle of Man or elsewhere, falsified a document, namely an invoice from Mainstreet Ltd to Quantum Group Management Ltd in the sum of $920,000,000.
Three things are amazing. The first that this is happening now, when the IMF are due. Second that it's taken more than six years to bring the case. Third, that someone hadn't noticed the deposit of $175 million dollars before now.
Don't get me wrong: I welcome these prosecutions if the evidence exists. But I do very seriously doubt that they are but a scratch on the surface of what is really going on, and are as such token gestures meant to prove that the willing exists to use the legislation that these places have passed but deeply resent. I hope and suspect that the IMF will not be taken in and will ask, as I do, why the Courts aren't packed day in day out with such cases in these places, because between them there's $1 trillion of funds deposited on which the income is tax evaded. $175 million is 0.0175% of that.