The Best Documentary on Havens, the Banking system & UK Uncut – Nicholas Shaxson on Tax

Nicholas Shaxson, journalist, writer, consultant, and author of Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World, gives an insight into his book, .

With more than 20 millionaires in the UK cabinet, reporter Antony Barnett examines the financial affairs of some ministers and others who have helped the .

Subscribe to our channel A new report has now revealed that some of the world’s richest people have more than $30 trillion stashed in .

Transcript

00:00
why do you think tax havens are such an
00:03
important issue right now and why do you
00:07
think it’s a subject that hasn’t really
00:09
come to light until recently tax havens
00:13
have been completely under the radar
00:15
under the radar screen for such a long
00:17
time partly because there has been this
00:20
perception that I think is deliberately
00:22
encouraged that this is these are just
00:24
places for a few kind of mafiosi and you
00:27
know celebrity tax dodgers and and you
00:29
know if you go spits and and just people
00:33
who you know misfits but the fact is
00:37
that these are now the heart of the
00:40
global economy depending on how you
00:42
measure it
the figures are absolutely
00:44
staggering I mean half of world trade in
a way passes through through tax havens
huge huge amounts of money are involved
every multinational corporation pretty
much these days will have offshore
subsidiaries that they will use for
various reasons tax cutting down on
their tax bills
is usually top of the
reasons banks are recently the Mail on
Sunday they did a great little
investigation about how many offshore
cysts offshore subsidiaries you know the
UK banks have and the top three Lloyd’s
Barclays an RBS had 550 offshore
subsidiaries between them
and in every
survey in fact where they look at you
know what are the top companies that
have sub city that have top ranking
companies in terms a number of
subsidiaries in tax havens it’s always
the banks the banks are right in there
so this is the heart of the financial
system
and when you consider the City of
London is you know as it is an offshore
system center in its own right then you
01:42
realize that this is this is absolutely
01:45
central so why hasn’t it I am still a
01:48
little bit mystified as to why it hasn’t
01:50
been so hasn’t it why it has been so far
01:53
under the radar screen I think you know
01:55
there are many different reasons I’m
01:56
still not satisfied with any of them I
01:58
mean it’s the complexity is obviously
02:00
part of it people can only ever see a
02:02
little bit of it at a time and but I
02:05
think now we are at a phase where this
02:07
is starting I know I think my book is
02:09
part of that but there are others who
02:10
are also putting this thing in a hole
02:13
takes a global context and we in Britain
02:15
must understand that this is something
02:16
that is a is a global problem and we are
02:19
right at the center of it if you work
02:22
out what a tax haven is tax haven offers
02:25
people and entities elsewhere
02:27
opportunities to escape – escape taxes
02:29
in their own jurisdictions to escape
02:31
financial regulations or whatever if you
02:34
start doing the analysis you will
02:35
quickly find that the jurisdictions that
02:37
are most effective in offering these
02:39
forms of escape our places like the UK
02:42
the the only objective ranking of in
02:46
terms of secrecy secrecy in a very
02:48
important part of it there and in
02:50
objective ranking was created by the Tax
02:52
Justice Network called the financial
02:54
secrecy index where they took a measure
02:58
they look to how opaque jurisdictions
03:01
were they looked at although they use 12
03:03
indicators to work out how a paper just
03:05
jurisdiction work was and then they
03:07
waited it according to the size of the
03:10
cross-border financial services activity
03:12
and the ranking was very clear the
03:14
United States was was top and you have
03:16
at the top of this ranking you have big
03:19
oacd countries United States Luxembourg
03:21
a great dark horse of the offshore
03:23
system that most people don’t really
03:24
know about the Netherlands Switzerland
03:27
of course the Cayman Islands is very big
03:29
United Kingdom right up there
03:32
Ireland these are the big offshore
03:34
jurisdictions if you’re talking about
03:36
offshore finance this is where it this
03:38
is where it happens and this is the
03:40
result of a process particularly since
03:41
the 1970s of the offshore system
03:43
steadily pushing its way onshore the
03:46
United States didn’t used to be a tax
03:48
haven in this way and it has steadily
03:50
become more so become gained more and
03:52
more and more offshore characteristics
03:58
[Applause]
04:10
[Applause]
04:19
there’s a very specific issue about the
04:22
UK and the UK has this network of havens
04:26
around the world such as the Crown
04:28
Dependencies Jersey Guernsey the Isle of
04:30
Man the overseas territories which are
04:33
kind of the you know the remnants of the
04:35
British Empire such as the cayman
04:37
islands such as bermuda such as
04:39
gibraltar such as the turks and caicos
04:41
islands these are all tax havens and
04:44
they are partly controlled by Britain
04:46
they are half in half out of Britain
04:49
these if you look at their flags you’ll
04:51
see a little British flag in the corner
04:52
you’ll see you know the governor is
04:54
appointed by the Queen so they’re all
04:56
these Britain is supporting these places
04:58
very much but they do have their own
04:59
independent politics so it’s a kind of
05:01
ambiguous relationship but what happens
05:04
with these jurisdictions is that they
05:05
are in my book I describe it as being
05:07
like a spider’s web so and I think that
05:11
is probably the best analogy so this is
05:12
a network of havens around the world and
05:14
you’ll have in the Caribbean for example
05:16
they’ll be focusing on business in the
05:18
Americas North and South America the
05:20
Crown Dependencies
05:21
Jersey Guernsey the Isle of Man will be
05:23
looking mostly at Europe you know out in
05:26
the Pacific they’ll be looking at Asia
05:28
and and Australasia and what these
05:32
things do they attract money into into
05:36
the havens or the business into the
05:38
havens into the into individual havens
05:40
and that business gets fed up to the
05:42
City of London so there is this sort of
05:44
capture of money from all around the
05:46
world and the business of handling this
05:47
money is constantly constantly fed up to
05:50
the City of London
05:51
I mean Jersey alone was the biggest
05:53
single source of bank deposits being up
05:56
streamed up to the city during the
05:57
during that during the crisis and that’s
05:59
just Jersey that’s just one tax haven so
06:01
we’re talking about hundreds and
06:03
hundreds of billions trillions of
06:04
dollars running through the city of
06:06
London as a result of it having this
06:09
network of havens this kind of spider’s
06:11
web bringing in business and that is the
06:13
offshore system that brings all this
06:16
money to the system is one of the most
06:18
fundamental if not the most important
06:20
under
06:21
for the financial power of the City of
06:22
London so if we’re worried about the
06:23
city and its power in the stranglehold
06:25
it has on our governments and our
06:27
societies this is this is this is where
06:31
it where so much of it comes from this
06:32
is where probably the biggest part of it
06:34
comes from this at this offshore system
06:36
that brings in business that’s one sided
06:40
but also the city in its own right the
06:41
City of London Corporation which is the
06:43
local government authority for the city
06:46
of London is in itself a slightly alien
06:50
political entity in Britain it is not
06:53
just another municipal authority it has
06:55
all of its own rules that are very
06:58
different from what apply in the rest of
07:00
written I mean voting rights in the city
07:02
it’s not just humans who vote there are
07:04
corporations corporate management
07:07
effectively can vote in the local
07:09
elections in the city of London it’s a
07:12
bizarre thing that most people in
07:13
Britain don’t know about but I’ve you
07:14
know I write about it in some detail in
07:16
my book you know when the Queen comes to
07:19
the city she stops at the city gates and
07:21
it’s it’s a kind of ceremony but she has
07:22
to meet the Lord Mayor and touch his
07:24
sword and there’s all this kind of
07:26
colourful you know ermine robes and
07:28
stuff Arizona but it’s a real marker
07:31
that there is a political discontinuity
07:33
at the boundaries of the city and it is
07:35
a very different political entity that
07:37
has them it submits to many of the rules
07:39
of this country but it’s also carved
07:42
itself out from them so it is kind of an
07:43
offshore island in a very very real
07:45
sense
07:54
there have been reformers over centuries
07:58
trying to trying to particularly merge
08:02
the City of London with the rest of
08:04
London and it’s bizarre that London
08:05
London is A Tale of Two Cities I mean
08:08
there is London has a mayor currently
08:09
Boris Johnson and it has a Lord Mayor
08:12
who’s sitting in the guild hall this
08:15
really is a Tale of Two Cities and there
08:17
have been reformers in the past who have
08:19
tried to say what we need is one
08:22
government for London we need to expand
08:25
the city to cover instead of 9,000
08:28
residents to cover whatever the
08:31
population is 8 million or so
08:33
Londoners and you have one single London
08:35
government the Labour Party for much of
08:38
the last century had a had a or for a
08:41
large part of it had a pledge in its
08:42
manifesto to abolish the City of London
08:44
Corporation and merged into the rest of
08:47
London and Tony Blair when he in 1996 as
08:51
part of his bid bid for power he he
08:54
decreed that he either that pledge would
08:56
be abolished and he made a deal with the
08:58
city and he made a promise to reform it
09:00
instead and that reform ended up being
09:02
an expansion of the corporate vote it’s
09:04
a totally bizarre story and I mean how
09:06
many people in Britain really know about
09:08
this I think it’s something that we need
09:10
to understand much much better and I
09:13
went to see them the other day because
09:15
I’m quite horrible about them right and
09:17
in a way um but I really felt like you
09:21
know naughty schoolboy going in front of
09:23
headmaster okay yes I did actually yes
09:29
yes
09:31
[Music]
09:34
settle down everybody settle down now
09:37
one thing we forgot when we came in what
09:39
did we forget past we did not take their
09:42
registar Jenkins Jenkins Jenkins very
09:52
good now anybody who isn’t here right
09:57
now the next class is may be unsurprised
10:02
to find out double banking this morning
10:07
is the eh-2-zed of modern banking
10:11
otherwise known as a last Atomics so
10:16
there will be a test at the end so keep
10:19
quiet pay attention and do feel free to
10:21
take notes so a what is a for
10:26
accountants yes a for accountants what
10:30
is the definition of an accountant
10:33
that is one definition account is not
10:38
the one I thought written unfriended me
10:39
so detention an accountant is someone
10:44
who is when asked add two plus two but
10:48
over the answer and what would you like
10:51
that to add up to they considering pay
10:54
professional in Ferris budget the only
10:56
answer that you’ll find is for B what is
11:00
B for it’s bloody obvious they’re very
11:06
clever institutions who somehow make it
11:09
seem that they are doing you a favor
11:11
when you lend them your hard earned cash
11:14
and who are allowed by government to
11:16
create money virtually out of nothing
11:18
which they then make you pay a lot for
11:21
right you hear that argument all the
11:24
time if it’s not there’s nothing
11:26
companies can do and in a narrow sense
11:28
that’s true
11:29
companies will they are in a competitive
11:32
marketplace and if they feel they need
11:33
to compete by dodging taxes more
11:35
aggressively than the next one then then
11:38
they will do that but you must have
11:41
forget the golden rule who has the gold
11:43
makes the rules in other words the rules
11:47
the tax laws of this country are very
11:50
substantially crafted by big
11:51
corporations that want those tax laws
11:53
right now as we speak there’s the at
11:56
some tax green paper has been floated
12:01
which has got some horrible concessions
12:03
huge concessions to multinational
12:05
corporations and this is the result of a
12:09
lot of consultations and committees
12:11
where you know the tax directors of many
12:14
of the biggest multinationals are
12:15
sitting on this saying basically this is
12:17
the tax system we want and and and so
12:19
corporations are punching holes in our
12:21
legislation all the time it’s a constant
12:23
process of creating loopholes lobbying
12:26
to lobbying in Parliament and elsewhere
12:28
to to make sure that they get what they
12:30
want so companies are not bystanders in
12:33
this they’re active players in this and
12:34
we have to hold their feet to the fire
12:36
so you can cut is quite right to do that
12:38
the other thing that UK Uncut has done
12:40
is to generate all sorts of new debate
12:43
this is a demo
12:44
pratik process we’re talking about here
12:46
has not been properly debated before and
12:48
they have by by taking on very high
12:51
profile targets quite legitimately they
12:55
have highlighted something that is
12:56
profoundly wrong in our society this is
12:58
a huge fault line in global capitalism
13:00
this is a distortion of markets and they
13:03
have identified it and they are focusing
13:07
on companies is absolutely the right the
13:08
right thing to do of course governments
13:10
need to be pressured as well no question
13:12
about it well there’s there’s there’s
13:25
the so-called yeah but there’s that
13:26
there’s that difference they always they
13:28
always make their say yes we pay lots of
13:29
taxes and but the question is do you do
13:32
you pay the taxes you should the urban
13:34
myth thing is always wheeled out and and
13:37
there is what some of us call the philip
13:39
green defense which is no tax was
13:43
avoided because no tax was due but what
13:47
he doesn’t say is that no tax was due
13:49
because i put a lot of work into making
13:51
sure that no tax was due so it’s a whole
13:53
slippery game that’s going on here and
13:55
this urban myth thing is quite wrong
13:57
that this is they will say that because
14:00
what you have when multinational
14:03
corporations use aggressive offshore
14:05
strategies to cut their tax bills you
14:08
have at the far extreme of it tax
14:11
evasion which is illegal activity and on
14:13
the other end tax avoidance which is by
14:16
definition legal but also by definition
14:18
avoidance it is guessing around the
14:20
spirit of legislation but in between
14:22
these two poles you have this huge grey
14:24
area and the level of aggression that
14:27
companies use in in in terms of avoiding
14:29
taxes and puts them somewhere on this on
14:32
this spectrum so when they say it’s an
14:37
urban myth they can make they can
14:39
construct an argument that technically
14:41
we have not broken any laws here look at
14:43
what we’ve done so it’s an urban myth
14:45
that we’ve avoided any money but in real
14:47
fact if you look at what they should pay
14:49
according to what democratic society
14:50
wants then you get a very very different
14:53
picture indeed so it’s not an urban myth
14:57
and the Vodafone story for example the
15:00
research was done by one of a former top
15:04
HM Revenue customs corporate tax
15:07
official who really you know he’s one of
15:09
the best in the business there’s no
15:10
question that that this is this is money
15:12
this is serious money that we’re talking
15:13
about and when they say it’s an urban
15:15
myth it’s just these are just word games
15:16
they’re they’re using to work to try and
15:19
justify what they’re doing this is money
15:27
given by the rich and the government to
15:30
their friends and the people of causes
15:32
that they like and considered a good
15:34
thing which is not to be confused with
15:37
money that goes to people and causes
15:38
they don’t like which they call subsidy
15:42
you can cut wasn’t a new phase and for
15:47
me it’s a something that kind of
15:48
exploded onto the streets which is
15:50
absolutely fantastic and so I see this
15:54
is we’re just at a fairly early stage of
15:56
a process and UK Uncut is looking at one
15:59
particular aspect of this system which
16:00
is corporate tax avoidance which is a
16:02
very important part of it but what what
16:06
is really out there is something much
16:07
bigger than that much more
16:08
all-encompassing and Britain has a
16:10
particular role in this in this global
16:12
offshore system I mean there’s no
16:15
dispute really that Britain is
16:17
responsible for about half of the tax
16:20
havens in the world and Britain is a tax
16:22
haven in its own right but you know what
16:24
companies want is when they come to a
16:27
country what they want ultimately is a
16:30
healthy and educated workforce they want
16:32
good infrastructure they want a well
16:34
governed country and that means taxes
16:37
and they don’t want you know taxes for
16:40
most corporations especially if they’re
16:42
not in the financial sector rank fairly
16:45
low there’ll be sort of four or four or
16:48
five on the list of priorities when
16:49
they’re looking at where to invest I
16:50
mean you’re not going to go you know set
16:52
up a car factory in Nigeria because it
16:55
offers you know you 0% tax on profits
16:59
and that’s not what that’s not what
17:00
drives investment decisions at the
17:02
decisions at the end of the day and so
17:04
yeah so but still politicians are
17:07
terrified
17:07
you know the this threat is made and and
17:10
they don’t know what to do and then they
17:11
say okay we’ll give you what you want
17:13
and it happens all the time and
17:14
politicians I think should call their
17:15
bluff a lot more on these sorts of
17:18
things where do you think June fits into
17:27
this picture and the disks that are
17:30
being handed over recently banking
17:33
details I think I mean I think Julian
17:37
Assange and WikiLeaks is a fascinating
17:39
story I think in this particular case
17:40
the recent handing over of two CDs by
17:43
Rudolph Alma the Swiss banker I think
17:45
it’s actually elmer story which is
17:46
perhaps the more interesting part of
17:48
this of this debate um he is a Swiss
17:51
banker who worked in the Cayman Islands
17:53
and got a very senior position with with
17:56
a big Swiss bank and he learnt a lot and
18:01
eventually decided to blow the whistle
18:03
and for whatever reasons and he is now
18:06
in prison in Switzerland for breaking
18:09
Swiss bank secrecy in the Cayman Islands
18:12
so it’s a very bizarre situation we’re
18:14
in
18:15
III don’t know what’s in what’s on the
18:19
disk I think WikiLeaks as we speak is
18:20
still analyzing them and I almost
18:23
certainly you know it is bona fide a
18:24
star from and I’ve spent time with Elmer
18:26
and he’s a fascinating guy who very
18:29
highly qualified but I think the the
18:33
aspect of it there’s a battle of ideas
18:36
going on here where jurisdictions like
18:40
Switzerland are saying it’s a crime to
18:43
steal data whereas people like Elmer and
18:47
myself would say it’s a crime to invade
18:50
billions of dollars of taxes and if if
18:55
the price is that data is is removed
18:59
through certain means then that’s a
19:01
price worth paying it’s like police
19:02
having informants you know they do that
19:05
do it all the time they they overlook
19:08
certain things in order to get you know
19:10
a bigger catch and it’s that’s what’s
19:12
going on here so that I think that’s the
19:14
story in this case and I think is this
19:16
making the world more transparent
19:18
yes there is some there is some more
19:21
transparency coming out as a result of
19:22
this it’s a good thing the release of
19:23
the release of data and general
19:25
publication of publication of data but
19:29
now countries like Switzerland with the
19:32
collusion of places like the UK are
19:34
working very hard to find ways to stop
19:37
this happening than to you know that
19:39
they’ve been very nasty indeed to Elmer
19:42
and I don’t know what’s going to happen
19:43
to him now that he’s in prison but also
19:45
they’re making it harder for you know
19:49
they’re putting in place new treaties
19:51
where they refuse to exchange any
19:52
information with anybody if there’s any
19:53
data that’s been what they call stolen
19:56
data so I think that’s it’s but I don’t
19:59
think this is good this is a game
20:00
changer that the release of information
20:02
unless we get a whole rash of new
20:04
whistleblowers but I think it’s it’s
20:05
important it’s important signal to
20:07
people that there’s something awful
20:08
going on here and I think it’s very good
20:10
from that point of view to expose what’s
20:12
really going on but these will only be
20:14
very sort of anecdotal pictures in a
20:16
much much bigger picture of crime and
20:19
abuse what places like Switzerland are
20:22
trying to do is to try and make any you
20:23
know trying to you know be very
20:26
unpleasant make it very unpleasant for
20:28
whistleblowers so I think there’s a fear
20:29
out there as well is it the start of a
20:31
trend of a strain I I trained I know
20:33
that there is I know that growing
20:35
numbers of people who work in this
20:36
sector are growing uncomfortable with it
20:38
last night I gave a talk at Chatham
20:40
House about financial secrecy and I had
20:42
somebody came up to me afterwards who
20:44
works for a private bank and was
20:46
essentially apologising for what she was
20:49
doing and saying yes you’re right this
20:51
stuff is happening and I’m doing it and
20:53
I feel really bad about it and and so I
20:55
think there is a real sense of
20:57
discomfort
20:57
whereas before a few years ago there was
20:59
not really much questioning of this
21:01
whole system it was sort of accepted
21:02
that secrecy is good and we you know the
21:05
crime is to reveal information to law
21:07
enforcement it’s a bit of a kind of
21:08
mafia code
21:15
I think now that there are a lot more
21:19
people talking about how rotten this
21:21
system is I think a lot more people are
21:23
feeling uncomfortable in in these jobs
21:25
and so I’m hopeful that there will be a
21:27
lot more revelations and people coming
21:31
forwards to explain what’s what the
21:34
system really looks like these are
21:38
salubrious retirement plans for Nobel
21:41
prize-winning mathematicians the huge
21:43
amount of money by producing absolutely
21:46
nothing of use for society and have been
21:50
known to explode unexpectedly confused
21:55
with Paige there’s no magic bullets to
22:04
all of this people often ask me this and
22:07
that the first answer I always give is
22:09
that we are still at a phase where we
22:11
don’t even have the education about the
22:13
system to know what to do about it there
22:15
needs to be widespread public
22:17
understanding and also a change there
22:21
has been a tolerance of this for such a
22:23
long time because people haven’t really
22:24
seen it people have just accepted what’s
22:27
going on and because the system is so
22:29
complicated if you’re talking about tax
22:31
when if a journalist wants to know our
22:32
pattern to write about a tax subject
22:35
there will ring up someone from KPMG or
22:38
one of the big accountancy firms these
22:40
firm their business is to design
22:42
strategies to help their clients avoid
22:44
tax and so they have got this they have
22:46
developed this worldview that tax is bad
22:48
and offshore is good and there has been
22:51
this soap so this journalist will ring
22:53
these people up and then this this
22:55
worldview gets kind of propagated into
22:57
the whole whole public consciousness and
22:59
that hasn’t really until very recently
23:02
being properly challenged and I think
23:03
that’s another it’s a very sort of vague
23:07
slightly wishy-washy thing to talk about
23:09
but but it is absolutely essential we
23:11
need to completely start to really
23:14
challenge this culture that offshore is
23:16
good and tax is bad and financial
23:19
regulation is bad and that is now
23:20
starting to happen not just as a result
23:23
of people like UK Uncut
23:24
but also wider issues such as the
23:26
financial crisis which I’ve made people
23:27
question all the assumptions that
23:30
they’ve been making before is really
23:33
difficult in a word yes and I think part
23:38
of the reason for that is that you know
23:41
we the last three years has proved has
23:44
shown to us that what we you know so
23:46
much of what we felt thought we
23:48
understood about economics is actually
23:50
rubbish but yeah I mean I think the
23:54
latest crisis you know that all these
23:56
sort of dizzying numbers coming out of
23:57
trillions and banks being supported with
24:00
these huge numbers of huge amount of
24:02
taxpayer money it’s it’s absolutely
24:06
baffling to everybody and I you know I
24:08
you know having spent a lot of time
24:10
researching the offshore system which is
24:12
a huge part of the global economy I you
24:15
know I have seen it you know it’s one of
24:17
those things where the more you know the
24:18
less you know the more you research them
24:20
all kind of you realize you don’t know
24:22
what’s going on so it is it is terribly
24:25
confusing though if you’re talking about
24:27
the offshore system it’s the essential
24:29
principles are very simple and this
24:31
these are these are places that provide
24:34
escape for mostly wealthy elite from the
24:38
rules and laws and taxes and regulations
24:41
that they don’t like leaving everyone
24:43
else to to pay their taxes for them or
24:46
all suffer the consequences of poor
24:49
financial regulation so there are very
24:50
simple principles about that but the
24:54
actual details of what’s going on is
24:56
incredibly incredibly complicated and
24:58
baffling and I think they like I think
25:01
the people who run this system or who
25:04
are big players in this system like it
25:06
that way
25:15
you
25:32
called the financial secrecy index
25:36
where they took a measure they look to
25:39
how opaque jurisdictions were they
25:41
looked at although they use 12
25:43
indicators to work out how a paper just
25:45
jurisdiction work was and then they
25:46
waited it according to the size of the
25:49
cross-border financial services activity
25:51
and the ranking was very clear the
25:53
United States was was top and you have
25:55
at the top of this ranking you have big
25:58
oacd countries the United States
26:00
Luxembourg a great dark horse of the
26:02
offshore system that most people don’t
26:04
really know about the Netherlands
26:05
Switzerland of course the Cayman Islands
26:08
is very big United Kingdom right up
26:10
there
26:11
Ireland these are the big offshore
26:14
jurisdictions if you’re talking about
26:15
offshore finance and this is where it
26:17
this is where it happens and this is the
26:19
result of a process particularly since
26:21
the 1970s of the offshore system
26:22
steadily pushing its way onshore the
26:25
United States didn’t used to be a tax
26:27
haven in this way
26:28
and it has steadily become more so
26:30
become many different reasons I’m still
26:32
not satisfied with any of them I mean
26:34
it’s the complexity is obviously part of
26:36
it people can only ever see a little bit
26:38
of it at a time and but I think now we
26:41
are at a phase where this is started I
26:43
know I think my book is part of that but
26:45
there are others who are also putting
26:47
this thing in a whole context of global
26:49
context and and we and Britain must
26:51
understand that this is something that
26:52
is a is a global problem and we are
26:55
right at the center of it if you work
26:57
out what a tax haven is tax haven offers
27:00
people and entities elsewhere
27:02
opportunities to escape – escape taxes
27:05
in their own jurisdictions to escape
27:07
financial regulations or whatever if you
27:09
start doing the analysis you will
27:11
quickly find that the jurisdictions that
27:13
are most effective in offering these
27:15
forms of escape our places like the UK
27:17
the the only objective ranking of in
27:21
terms of secrecy secrecy – in a very
27:24
important part of it there and in
27:25
objective ranking was created by the Tax
27:28
Justice Network why do you think tax
27:31
havens are such an important issue right
27:34
now and why do you think it’s a subject
27:38
that hasn’t really come to light until
27:40
recently tax havens have been completely
27:43
under the radar under the radar screen
27:46
for such a long time
27:48
partly because there has been this
27:50
perception that I think is deliberately
27:51
encouraged that this is these are just
27:53
places for a few kind of mafiosi and you
27:56
know celebrity tax dodgers and and you
27:59
know a few curves bibs and and just
28:02
people who you know misfits but the fact
28:06
is that these are now the heart of the
28:09
global economy depending on how you
28:11
measure it the figures are absolutely
28:14
staggering I mean half of world trade in
28:17
a way passes through through tax havens
28:21
huge huge amounts of money are involved
28:24
every multinational corporation pretty
28:26
much these days
28:27
gain more more and more offshore
28:29
characteristics
28:33
[Applause]
28:46
[Applause]
28:54
there’s a very specific issue about the
28:58
UK and the UK has this network of havens
29:02
around the world such as the Crown
29:03
Dependencies Jersey Guernsey the Isle of
29:06
Man the overseas territories which are
29:08
kind of the you know the remnants of the
29:10
British Empire such as the cayman
29:13
islands such as bermuda such as
29:14
Gibraltar
29:15
such as the Turks and Caicos Islands
29:17
these are all tax havens and they are
29:20
partly controlled by Britain they are
29:22
half in half out of Britain these will
29:25
have offshore subsidiaries that they
29:27
will use for various reasons tax cutting
29:30
down on their tax bills is usually top
29:33
of the reasons banks are recently The
29:36
Mail on Sunday they did a great little
29:38
investigation about how many offshore
29:39
cysts offshore subsidiaries you know the
29:42
UK banks have in the top three Lloyd’s
29:45
Barclays an RBS had 550 offshore
29:48
subsidiaries between them and in every
29:51
survey in fact where they look at you
29:53
know what are the top companies that
29:54
have sub city that have top ranking
29:56
companies in terms a number of
29:57
subsidiaries in tax havens it’s always
30:00
the banks the banks are right in there
30:02
so this is the heart of the financial
30:03
system and when you consider the City of
30:06
London is you know as an offshore system
30:08
senator in its own right then you
30:10
realize that this is this is absolutely
30:12
central so why hasn’t it I am still a
30:15
little bit mystified as to why it hasn’t
30:17
been so hasn’t it why it has been so far
30:20
under the radar screen I think you know
30:22
there are men

How Corporations Destroyed American Democracy – Chris Hedges.

How Corporations Destroyed American Democracy – Chris Hedges.
Filmed at Socialism 2010 in Chicago by Paul Hubbard

William Dalrymple on the ruthless rise of the British East India Company

The outrageous story of a group of financiers from a poor and damp island on the outer rim of Europe, who created a private company that became the biggest military and political power in all of India
17

Elizabeth Warren Pushes Further Restrictions on Lobbyists

Ahead of a major address in New York City, the Democratic hopeful is wrapping her campaign in an anticorruption pitch to Democratic primary voters

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is proposing a federal ban on all fundraising activities hosted by lobbyists as part of a new, broad set of anticorruption proposals, adding weight to a theme that has underpinned her White House bid.

The plan, outlined Monday morning on the blog site Medium, builds on anticorruption legislation Ms. Warren announced last year. It adds the new lobbying prohibitions, as well as a ban to prevent senior executive branch officials and members of Congress from serving on for-profit boards—whether or not they receive compensation from such positions. Ms. Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, unveiled the proposal ahead of one of the splashiest events of her presidential campaign: an evening speech at New York City’s Washington Square Park.

The ideas are unlikely to become law while Republicans control the Senate and the White House. GOP lawmakers have generally lined up against similar proposals, citing constitutional concerns.

Typically, new restrictions on registered lobbyists lead to more Washington operatives deciding not to register, instead referring to themselves as consultants or strategic advisers. Ms. Warren says her plan would close that workaround by expanding the definition of lobbyist to include “all individuals paid to influence government.”

Such appeals to the idea that Washington is corrupt could pay off at the ballot box in 2020. In a WSJ/NBC News poll conducted last fall ahead of the midterm elections, 77% of all respondents said reducing the influence of special interests and corruption in Washington ranked as either the most important or a very important factor in deciding which candidate should get their vote. The only issue that ranked higher was the economy. Many Democrats who won House seats in 2018 campaigned on decreasing the influence of money in politics.

“Look closely, and you’ll see—on issue after issue, widely popular policies are stymied because giant corporations and billionaires who don’t want to pay taxes or follow any rules use their money and influence to stand in the way of big, structural change,” Ms. Warren wrote Monday.

Ms. Warren is also pushing to alter the definition of a “thing of value” in campaign finance laws to include tangible benefits made for campaign purposes, in what appeared to be a nod to President Trump.

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The Wall Street Journal reported in November 2018 that Mr. Trump intervened to suppress stories about alleged sexual encounters with women, including the former Playboy model Karen McDougal and the former adult-film star known professionally as Stormy Daniels, citing interviews with three dozen people, court papers, corporate records and other documents. The president’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, told a federal judge that Mr. Trump had directed him during the 2016 campaign to buy the silence of two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty in August 2018 to eight criminal charges, including campaign-finance violations. Mr. Trump has denied the encounters.

Ms. Warren is additionally proposing making it harder for corporations to seal settlements of product liability litigation, something Democrats have called for in the past, notably in 2014 following a faulty ignition switch installed on 2.6 million General Motors vehicles.

David Koch Was the Ultimate Climate Change Denier

How a playboy billionaire built a political army to defend his fossil fuel empire.

A few years ago, I was sitting in the book-lined study of an elegant condo with a view of downtown Washington, interviewing a former senior Koch Industries lobbyist about his job. I asked him what got him up in the morning when he worked for Koch. He gave me a one-word answer: “Carbon.”

At the time, I had been reporting for years on Koch Industries, one of the largest and most confusingly complex private companies in the world. Its annual revenue is larger than that of Facebook, Goldman Sachs and U.S. Steel combined, and it makes everything from gasoline to nitrogen fertilizer to nylon, paper towels and windows. For all this complexity, one business inside Koch Industries remains more important than the rest — processing and selling fossil fuels.

David Koch, who died Friday at the age of 79, is best known as a major funder of right-wing political causes, from tax cuts to deregulation, an enthusiastic patron of the arts and a man-about-town. But to his critics, his most lasting political legacy might very well be the rapidly warming world that he has left behind.

Koch Industries realized early on that it would be a financial disaster for the firm if the American government regulated carbon emissions or made companies pay a price for releasing carbon into the atmosphere. The effects of such a policy would be measured over decades for Koch. The company has billions of dollars sunk into the complex and expensive infrastructure of crude-oil processing. If a limit on greenhouse gas emissions were imposed, it could dampen demand for oil and diminish the value of those assets and their future sales. The total dollar losses would likely be measured in trillions over a period of 30 years or more.

Construction on the Koch political machine began in the 1970s, after Charles Koch took over the family company. He and David began funding and orchestrating a political project to restrain government power in the United States through lobbying, think tanks and political donations. The effort accelerated in the 1990s after a Senate committee, following a long investigation, accused Koch Industries of stealing oil from Native American reservations where the company was operating. That experience convinced David and Charles Koch that they needed to have a stronger presence in Washington to fend off their critics.

The machine reached full fruition in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected president. The machine is so effective because it is multifaceted. In addition to one of the largest registered corporate lobbying offices in the country, located about two blocks from the White House, there is a constellation of Koch-funded think tanks and university centers. They all convey a consistent message: that government programs can only cause more harm than good and that market forces alone must shape human society. And their work is bolstered by a private network of donors that David and Charles Koch assembled over the years, a network that gives donations at levels rivaling a political party.

Finally, Koch controls a “boots on the ground” army in the form of Americans for Prosperity, a network of employees and volunteers who knock on doors, attend rallies to protest climate change legislation, and visit the offices of any lawmakers who seem likely to cross Koch Industries on the issue.

This machine has been employed to great effect to ensure that no government action is taken to control greenhouse gas emissions. In the early 1990s, President George H.W. Bush made it clear that he would support a treaty to limit carbon emissions. The Republicans even had a market-based solution to tackle the problem, a system called “cap and trade” that put a price on pollution and allowed companies to buy and sell the right to pollute. Cap and trade had been used to great effect to reduce power plant pollution and acid rain. But in 1991, the Cato Institute, a Koch-funded think tank, held a seminar in Washington called “Global Environmental Crises: Science or Politics?” This was part of a decades-long effort to cast doubt about the reality of climate change.

David Koch worked tirelessly, over decades, to jettison from office any moderate Republicans who proposed to regulate greenhouse gases. In 2009, for example, a South Carolina Republican, Representative Bob Inglis, proposed a carbon tax bill. KochIndustries stopped funding his campaign, donated heavily to a primary opponent named Trey Gowdy and helped organize teams of Tea Party activists who traveled to town hall meetings to protest against Mr. Inglis. Some of the town hall meetings devolved into angry affairs, where Mr. Inglis couldn’t make himself heard above the shouting. Mr. Inglis lost re-election, and his defeat sent a message to other Republicans: Koch’s orthodoxy on climate rules could not be violated.

Mike Pence, who was then a congressman in Indiana, and others soon signed a “carbon pledge” circulated by Americans for Prosperity, which effectively prohibited the government from putting a price on carbon emissions. Those efforts and others effectively derailed the effort to pass a cap and trade plan for greenhouse gas emissions in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, the level of atmospheric carbon concentration hovered around 370 parts per million. In the decade since, levels have surpassed 400 parts per million, the highest level recorded in human existence.

Since the 2016 election, and in the face of more urgent scientific warnings about climate change and a growing popular movement for action, the Koch network has tried to build a Republican Party in its image: one that not only refuses to consider action on climate change but continues to deny that the problem is real. Just this week, Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, dismissed data about climate change by pointing out on Twitter: “It’s summer.” In doing so, he reflected the politics of a party — and a world — that has been profoundly shaped by David Koch.

Banks Plan to Boost Campaign Spending in 2020

With the financial crisis fading, firms renew political engagement for presidential election year

WASHINGTON—Banks plan to be more active in the 2020 elections, with a large industry group promising to boost campaign spending and political advertising after keeping a relatively low profile in the decade after the financial crisis.

The industry’s re-emergence in the political arena comes amid a friendlier tone in Washington during the Trump administration. Congress and financial regulators have sought to ease capital rules, limits on trading and other restrictions placed on banks by the Obama administration after the 2008 crisis, arguing the financial system is more resilient now.

“They’re using the current thaw in what had been a pretty contentious relationship between Wall Street and D.C. to tell their story a little better,” said Ed Mills, managing director at Raymond James Financial.

The American Bankers Association, a trade group that represents banks of all sizes, said it plans to spend more than $10 million in the 2020 election cycle on its political program, including donations and advertisements to back Republicans and Democrats in congressional races. The amount also includes operational costs that aren’t subject to federal filing requirements; the group declined to say how that total compares with its spending in previous election cycles.

“Our goal is to support candidates who understand and appreciate the critical role banks of all sizes play in the economy,” Rob Nichols, the ABA’s chief executive, said in a statement. “We plan to expand our efforts in 2020 on a rigorously bipartisan basis.”

Banking on 2020 The American Bankers Association has increased political donations ahead of the2020 election. Contributions to federal candidates and other political committees Source: Federal Election Commission Note: Donations January through July in the first year of each two-year election cycle.
20062008201020122014201620182020$0 million$0.5$1$1.5

In the 2018 midterm election cycle, the ABA spent more than $1.5 million on political ads, polling and other research, the group said. In addition, it contributed $3.5 million to candidates and other political committees, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

The group backed four Democratic and eight Republican candidates, including Dean Heller, a former Republican senator from Nevada, and Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat.

So far this year through the end of July, it contributed  $1.31 million to federal candidates and political committees, the fastest its donations have topped $1 million since at least the 2010 cycle, according to Federal Election Commission data.

The group also contributed $10,000 each to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and $15,000 a piece to the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The group declined to comment on the difference in the amounts.

The Consumer Bankers Association, which represents big and regional banks, expects to raise upwards of $200,000, on par with previous years, and the Independent Community Bankers of America, representing smaller banks, said it plans to focus more on social-media ads in 2020.

The American Bankers Association ran an ad backing U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (R., N.C.) in his successful 2018 re-election race. PHOTO:WOODY MARSHALL/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The ABA’s advertisements in the 2018 cycle included one supporting Rep. Ted Budd (R., N.C.) that featured Kelly Earnhardt Miller—a North Carolina banker and the daughter of race-car legend Dale Earnhardt. The group also ran Spanish-language video ads and a print ad in Vietnamese in support of Rep. Lou Correa (D., Calif.).

So far this election cycle, the ABA is the biggest political action committee in terms of donations to federal candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Goldman Sachs recently released a documentary commemorating its 150-year history, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. sponsored a multimedia Politico article about its community development initiatives in Detroit.

The industry’s efforts haven’t always hit their marks. “ Is Bank of America really sponsoring this?” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), a 2020 presidential candidate who has advocated for breaking up big banks, said at a July Washington Post event on the presidential election, with the bank’s logo overhead. “Well, let’s just get into the interview,” journalist Robert Costa replied, to audience laughter.

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The industry has pressed for regulatory victories by focusing on what it says are burdens faced by small and midsize banks, arguing that lower costs to comply with rules and regulations could mean more loans are made to small businesses and consumers. Last May, this approach led to bipartisan support for the most comprehensive rollback of the financial rulebook since the crisis.

“We’re far enough away from the financial crisis,” Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat and then-senator who backed the bill, said in an interview. “We definitely have normalized the discussion, taking it out of a hyper, you-caused-this-and-you-should-be-punished to a discussion about what works for American consumers.”

The power split in Congress—Democrats control the House, Republicans control the Senate—has complicated efforts by banks to lobby for their policy priorities. Some progressive Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee, for instance, are shunning political donations from the industry.

“We’re still in the early-stage process of developing relationships with all of them. Some we haven’t met,” Richard Hunt, the head of the Consumer Bankers Association, said of new lawmakers of all stripes in an interview. “Eighty percent of my so-called lobbying time is with regulators.”