The City is a semi-offshore state, a bit like the UK’s crown dependencies and overseas territories, tax havens legitimised by the Privy Council. Britain’s financial secrecy undermines the tax base while providing a conduit into the legal economy for gangsters, kleptocrats and drug barons.
Even the more orthodox financial institutions deploy a succession of scandalous practices: pension mis-selling, endowment mortgage fraud, the payment protection insurance con, Libor rigging. A former minister in the last government, Lord Green, ran HSBC while it engaged in money laundering for drug gangs, systematic tax evasion and the provision of services to Saudi and Bangladeshi banks linked to the financing of terrorists. Sometimes the UK looks to me like an ever so civilised mafia state.
– From last year’s post: Guardian Op-Ed – The City of London Has Turned Britain Into a “Civilized Mafia State”
This is too good not to cover.
Via Yahoo News:
A black bus winds its way through some of London’s most expensive neighbourhoods for a sightseeing tour with a difference — a guided visit around luxury houses bought by shady international tycoons and officials.
The “Kleptocracy Tour” was set up by anti-corruption campaigner Roman Borisovich, who aims to expose dirty money fuelling the high-end London property market and the teams of British “enablers” who make it happen.
“The idea behind the tour is to attract public attention to the fact of massive money laundering through properties in London,” Borisovich told AFP on the tour this week, ahead of an international anti-corruption summit being hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron.
More than 36,000 properties in London are owned through offshore firms, which own a total £122 billion (154 billion euros, $176 billion) worth of property across England and Wales.
Buying properties through offshore companies can be a way of hiding the true owners and avoiding taxes.
More than £180 million worth of property in Britain was investigated as suspected proceeds of corruption between 2004 and 2014, according to Transparency International, which says this figure is just the “tip of the iceberg”.
Luke Harding, a journalist with The Guardian newspaper who helped analyse the Panama Papers, said the shock for him was the realisation of the extent of the enabling role played by British intermediaries.
“The UK has become Monaco with fog,” he said, after addressing the bus tour.
Liberty Blitzkrieg readers will be familiar with this theme as I’ve been referring to London real estate as the world’s criminal oligarch money laundering capital of the world for quite some time.
Here are a few previously published articles on the topic: