Sunday, March 13, 2016

The tax haven of all tax havens

The City of London caters for those above the law and operates on the basis of bypassing democratic society as a whole. The Square Mile has extracted certain privileges the rest of the population do not enjoy. The City won its rights through debt financing in 1067, when William the Conqueror acceded to it and ever since, governments have allowed the continuation of its ancient rights above all others. Bankers corporations and hedge-funds dodge the authorities with skills honed over a millennia. In this small area of Britian, just 1.2 square miles has the third lowest council tax for property anywhere in the United Kingdom. A £20 million mansion costs less than £1,000 a year in council tax. At the last census, its population stood at just 7,325, its employees stand at 414,600, nearly 40 per cent of them in financial services. Nearly 17,000 businesses are registered there, 2,700 are finance and insurance based and just over 45 per cent are foreign owned entities. HSBC’s organisation is the ninth largest bank in the world following four Chinese and four American banks located down the road in Canary Wharf.

 A ‘Watchman’ sits right next to the Speaker of the House and  is “charged with maintaining and enhancing the City’s status and ensuring that its established rights are safeguarded.” His job is to seek out any opposition to the interests of the City. The City of London has its own private funding and will ‘buy-off’ any attempt to erode its powers; any scrutiny of its financial affairs are put beyond external inspection or audit. This special territory has its own borders where the Queen herself has to request permission to enter and it possesses its own police force outside of the London Met at Scotland Yard.

The City is at the heart of the offshore tax haven web, with Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man its European collection centres, while the Caribbean and others suck up billions from all over the globe. Her Majesty’s British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies make up around 25 per cent of the world’s tax havens, which are now blacklisted by the European Commission and now ranked as the most important player in the financial secrecy world. Tax havens featured on the EC’s blacklist of June last year include Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands to name just a few and each is inextricably linked to the City of London’s offices. Make no mistake, the banks use offshore business organisations to escape regulation. The City of London remains politically immune and acts with criminal impunity. Keith Bristow Director-General of the UK’s National Crime Agency said just six months ago that the sheer scale of crime and its subsequent money laundering operations was “a strategic threat” to the country’s economy and reputation and that “high-end money laundering is a major risk”.

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