What is big business hiding in overseas tax shelters?
Firms responsible for the world financial meltdown keep their profits in offshore banks.
by Joe Conason, Salon.com
March 23, 2009 — The popular urge to claw back the bogus bonuses paid by American International Group is irresistible and fully justified, but should the Treasury someday retrieve every single bonus dollar, that total of $165 million will make no difference to anyone except a few disgruntled traders. From the jaded perspective of the financiers, the uproar over the AIG bonuses may provide a welcome distraction from far more important (and lucrative) abuses in the world's offshore tax havens.
So rather than continue arguing over chump change, it is long past time for the United States, with its international friends and allies, to demand accountability from the long list of tiny countries and principalities, from Andorra and the Cayman Islands to Singapore and Switzerland, where corporations, wealthy clients and unrepentant evildoers hide their assets.
The big claw-back will reach into quaint islands and mountainous principalities, because the same banks, hedge funds and private equity firms responsible for the world financial meltdown keep their profits in those "secrecy spaces" — alongside the ill-gotten gains of numerous drug dealers, dictators and delinquents of every description.
According to the Government Accountability Office, nearly all of America's top 100 corporations maintain subsidiaries in countries identified as tax havens. As the GAO notes, there could be reasons other than avoiding the IRS to set up branches in places such as Singapore, Luxembourg and Switzerland, where taxes are light or nonexistent and keeping clients' illicit secrets is considered a matter of national pride. . .
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AIG is chump change — let's find corporate America's hidden billions, by Joe Conason, Salon.com, March 23 2009
Posted: March 25, 2009
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