NIFA NEWS

Switzerland top of the money laundering world

A US research programme run by the Tax Justice Network has found that Switzerland is top of a list of countries that provide ‘assistance’ to money launderers and anyone who seeks to protect “corruptly obtained wealth”.  This is the second year running that Switzerland has topped the list entitled Financial Secrecy Index – 2018 and the US has knocked Hong Kong from the number two spot.

As the report points out, financial secrecy provided by the US has “caused untold harm to the ordinary citizens of foreign countries, whose elites have used the United States as a bolt-hole for looted wealth.”

According to the report, the US now accounts for around 22 per cent of the global market in offshore services, up from 14 per cent in 2015. Interestingly, names that would not immediately spring to mind when thinking of tax havens, Delaware, Nevada and Wyoming were highlighted as ‘hot spots; for secretive shell companies, with nominee officers and directors who serve as a front for the actual, hidden owners.

Shell companies have long been the choice of hiding place for criminals and have been used by some of the most corrupt and dangerous individuals in the world. Although there can of course be a whole host of legitimate reasons to incorporate a company in a tax haven, the use of shell shell companies can make tracking and tracing assets within them  difficult.  However  forensic accountants are trained to  do what others may not find impossible.

From trawling web entries that might escape the attention of anyone but the most experienced investigator to scanning public records, every tool is used to find the shell companies, uncover them and trace any assets that may have been improperly hidden.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 2 February 2018

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