The real centres of money laundering


The real centres of money laundering

Sunday, September 27, 2020

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The ability of developing countries in general — but especially the small, developing economies such as those in the Caribbean — to survive and thrive depends on finding a niche in the modern globalised world economy.

However, their ability to find a niche in turn depends on the policy space and opportunities which the powerful developed countries that dominate the world allow them. Finding a niche in which they can hold their own is not easy.

Small developing economies are at a disadvantage because they are largely deprived of trade preferences, including those they once enjoyed, and development aid which is rapidly dwindling.

Worst of all for small developing countries is that in many instances even when through their ingenuity and innovativeness they identify and develop a niche in the global economy, the governments of developed countries try to force them out of existence because they are competing with their private sector and challenging the way they want to control the world capitalist system.

The small developing economies of the Caribbean found a niche as financial centres which provided low or no taxation to foreign companies registered in their national jurisdiction. These tiny islands with very, very few viable options were branded by the governments of developed countries as outlaws providing tax havens for multinational corporations.

This was deemed to be unfair and an unethical behaviour depriving these governments of what they regarded as rightfully their tax revenue from their own companies.

There is no internationally accepted law that prohibits countries from have different tax regimes. A sovereign country can have whatever tax regime it so chooses. That being so, the governments devised a way to force the small Caribbean out of this activity.

This was by accusing them of being major centres of money laundering. Over the years the governments of developed countries kept stipulating increasingly stringent regulations on these jurisdictions in the specious goal of transparency to reduce money laundering.

The crusade against money laundering found a new ostensible justification after 9-11 and that was the fight against terrorism. This argument has been used to impose regulations that have almost cut off the region from international correspondent banking facilities.

The US Department of State in its March 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy report named 14 of the 15 Caribbean Community (Caricom) states as major money laundering countries.

The report has prompted an outcry from governments in the region regarding the possible consequences of such a designation, that it will worsen an already bad situation.

The Caribbean has always argued that the most money laundering is done in the biggest financial centres which are located and operated in the very developed countries, in particular, London and New York.

A report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists alleges that that a number of world's most prominent banks have continued to profit from illicit dealings with disreputable people and criminal networks.

It makes one wonder who the real money launderers are.

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