How to Rob Africa: A Look into How the West Facilitates Moving Dirty Money

Anyone who has heard of, or better yet, read Nicholas Shaxson’s book Treasure Islands knows how large and powerful the world of “offshore” finance is. The public tends to think of banks in the Switzerland or the Caymans or the Isle of Man, but these are merely the outposts of larger networks. Shaxson contends that the UK was the historical top dog in the murky world of tax avoidance but the US is now the leader.

This Aljazeera show gives a small window into the nitty gritty of how this industry helps corrupt African leaders loot their countries. The journalists show how trivial it is to find facilitators and to set up the companies that allow money to be moved across borders with the identity of the instigator well hidden.

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  1. diptherio

    I think Declan’s on the money-launderers payroll. Telling that he didn’t offer to investigate any of the companies that were offering anonymous money laundering services. He seemed more interested in claiming that laundering is not a “Seychelles problem” since, you know, it goes on in other places too.

    Sad how easily the reporters get the crooks to openly discuss their strategies and manipulations. Obviously, no one is worried about being prosecuted. This is just more evidence for my current hypothesis that our government and corporate leaders are best viewed as mafiosi; sophisticated and successful criminals with a HIGHLY lucrative racket going. And unlike morons such as John Gotti, these criminals know enough to stay below the radar and make like normal, respectable people, so the muppets don’t get wise.

    Whoever said crime doesn’t pay has obviously never been to the Seychelles.

    1. okie farmer

      Yeah, Declan doesn’t look good,”the Seychelles are doing the best we can”, “this isn’t the Seychelles’ problem”.

      I challenge anyone to show me a govt anywhere that isn’t an ongoing criminal enterprise.

  2. readerOfTeaLeaves

    That Al Jazeera clip is one fine piece of reporting.

    Shaxson begins “Treasure Islands” with Omar Bongo, of Gabon, who was deeply connected to what might be called French post-colonialism. It proceeds to tell an epic tale in which financial services become the primary economic sector in places like the Caymans, Delaware, Bahamas, Mauritius: a post-colonial, seemingly ‘professionalized’ system of finance made to appear respectable.

    In one of many excellent interviews in the book, Shaxson recounts the reaction of Arkady Gaydamak, a Russian-born ‘translator’ who helped procure weapons for Angola (via a Slovak company). The estimates of a 65-percent profit margin for this ‘service’ of procuring arms were hard to track, as they lead through tax havens.

    But Mr Gaydamak’s views on making money are a marvel to behold (p. 137, paperback US edition): “In the so-called market economies, with all the regulations, the taxation, the legislation about working conditions, there is no way to make money… It is only in countries like Russia, during the period of the redistribution of wealth… when you can get a result. So that is Russian money. Russian money is clean money, explainable money. How can you make $50 million in France today? How? Explain to me!”

    One might add Africa to the list of Mr Gaydamak’s lucrative opportunities.
    The problem for those of us in the US and EU is that if you trace the work of tax havens, shell corporations, and the kind of corporate structuring nicely shown in this Al Jazeera clip, they lead to places that function as the incubators of financial instability.

    Anyone who thinks this is ‘just a problem for Africa’ is going to be mighty damn puzzled when the next Big Crisis hits. These tax havens are incubating systemic risk for all of us, while at the same time they corrode African communities.

  3. Newtownian

    Thanks fantastic report – As an Australian I was really proud to hear a broad local no bullshit accent explaining how to scam Africa. Good to know we have our share of high flying rotters.

    Hopefully someone local will recognise this b****** and this will not be the last he hears of this.

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