Living in a land of make believe

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I am sitting listening to lots of people in the conference I'm attending in Florida saying things that I am staggered by. Why? If you were to believe that what people are saying here the cleanest places in the world are its tax havens.

And a much smaller number of rather well informed people here are reporting that they're not. Curiously, and to his credit, one of these is a compliance officer from KPMG, Miami. Michael Gillard of Private Eye is another. Jack Blum and John Moscow make up the other brave guys.

Let me give you an example of the nonsense: a member of the FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit) of St Kitts & Nevis, which is responsible for investigating money laundering in that territory spent ages yesterday telling an audience how much help they give to people investigating crime in their territory. You can search the land registry and the maritime registry she said. You pay $5 in a civil case and made much of the fact that this is waived in criminal cases.

But having made this claim, she was then asked if the company registry was open to investigation - and then admitted that no, it never was open for review, and was not organised to facilitate searches. And what is more - if a ship or land was owned by a corporation then no meaningful data could be extracted from the land and maritime registers either.

I kid you not: these people live in a land of make believe where they suggest all is cream and honey. The fact is otherwise, it is not.