The US, Switzerland and Singapore top the black list of countries condescending to financial secrecy

For the great fortunes there is no safer territory to hide their patrimonial values ​​than the United States. This country is the jurisdiction that gives more hope to people with more income that their wealth is safe. This is revealed by the ranking of Tax Justice Network, an institution dedicated to the investigation of tax havens, offshore centers or nations that favor money laundering, among other harmful practices. In its latest report, it places the largest economy on the planet at the head of the most condescending jurisdictions and with the most guarantees for the preservation of financial secrecy. In fact, it is the country that has stored the most opaque monetary wealth since 2020, accounting for almost a third of the world's hidden heritage, and reaches the worst score in the classification since its edition began in 2009.

This barometer calculates the level of permissiveness of financial secrecy; that is, it establishes the list of jurisdictions with the greatest complicity when it comes to helping natural or legal persons to find hiding places for their finances or benefits under the rule of law. With scores ranging from 0 to 100 depending on whether the legal system totally prevents or facilitates the concealment of wealth under strict confidentiality rules, either with the idea of ​​becoming a monetary arsenal or assets used for tax evasion, money laundering capital or terrorist activities or those linked to drug trafficking.

Ian Gary, executive director of Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT), a sister organization with the Tax Justice Network and which collaborates in the elaboration of this index of financial secrecy, considers that this study “shows how corrupt nations are and the weaponization ( or militarization) that our financial system exerts on democracies”. Before warning that the White House "must make many more bilateral, reciprocal and automatic efforts to exchange banking and tax information with other countries" if it wants to achieve the transparent market award.

The data provided by the report is convincing. Tax Justice experts give the US a FSI (Financial Secrecy Index) value of 1,951 billion dollars, an amount similar to the Italian GDP, with an assessment of 67 out of 100; in addition to giving 25.8% of the Global Scale Weight (GSW) or percentage of the total global financial services to non-residents and a share of 5.74% of the patrimonial arsenal that acts under banking secrecy rules. The second rung of this ladder is occupied by Switzerland, a traditional offshore financial and fiscal enclave: with a FSI of 1.167 trillion -almost the size of the Indonesian economy- a score of 70 out of 100, a weight of 3.9% and a share of 3.43%. Singapore closes the podium with the same accumulated amount, 67 out of 100, 5.6% of non-resident assets with respect to the international financial circuit and a portion similar to that of Switzerland, 3.43%, of all the wealth under banking secrecy on the planet.

The Financial Secrecy Index 2022 It also denounces regulations that turn a blind eye to this type of harmful practice among industrialized powers. Five of the G-7 partners - the US, UK, Japan, Germany and Italy - have cut their progress on transparency in half. The German government, which has hosted the meeting of G-7 finance ministers these days, had the seventh worst global evaluation for its poor inclusion of tax data provision and information disclosure laws in its legal heritage, explains the study .

The study estimates the wealth held by offshore centers at 10 trillion dollars, more than 2.5 times the value of all the dollars and euros currently circulating around the world. Spain is in twenty-ninth place, behind Canada and ahead of France, the two nations of the G-7 least complicit with bank secrecy. With a score of 57, but with 346,000 million dollars, 0.7% of non-resident assets worldwide and 1.02% of total undeclared assets.

After the three countries with more docile legislation, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Japan, Germany, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and two usual suspects complete the top-ten of the Tax Justice ranking: the British Virgin Islands and Guernsey; both, territories under British control. In the opinion of Alex Cobham, chief executive of this think-tank, "globally, we have begun to persecute the financial secrecy used by the Russian oligarchs, but it is also time to extend these courses to tax evaders, corrupt politicians, organizations criminals and any person or entity that tries to launder money”. A combined action by the G-7, like the one just imposed to demand a 15% tax rate for multinationals across the planet, would reduce financial secrecy by more than half.

"A small club of rich countries that promote the rules of globalization, global architecture and transnational tax regulations are precisely those most responsible for tax crimes and financial secrecy that too often leads to money laundering," warns Moran. Harari, Head of Research at the Tax Justice Network. For decades -he clarifies- the powerful partners of the G-7 "have courted billionaires, oligarchs and corporate giants with the lure of financial secrecy and closing their eyes to specific regulations and supervisory controls".

In this sense, it includes a resounding criticism against the United Kingdom and its vast sovereign enclaves that still depend on the British Crown, from the Virgin Islands to Jersey, tax havens that together are responsible for 8.9% of the planet's banking opacity. In these territories, undeclared assets arrive that represent more than a tenth of the global patrimonial volume if the City of London is included.

There is also another message for Joe Biden: if the US were to comply with the exchange of fiscal and financial information as other large economies do, banking confidentiality would be reduced by 40%. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has already admitted that the US “could be the best place to hide and launder black and illicit money”; a whole plea in favor of new regulations and efforts to eradicate corruption.

The 2022 situation x-ray leaves several qualifiers for the US, Switzerland and Singapore as fiscally harmful areas and even mentions the world's largest market as a territory with several tax havens that "undermine the Biden Administration's crusade against illicit finance". Alluding to his first speech in Congress, on the occasion of the first 100 days of his administration, in which he bluntly stated that "numerous companies evade taxes through tax havens such as Switzerland, the Cayman Islands or Bermuda”. Although his compliance with banking secrecy causes tax revenue losses of 20,000 million dollars to the rest of the planet.

The White House adopted in 2021, in the first weeks of Biden as its tenant, a transparency law that was described as historic because it required the identification and registration of owners and companies. However, its poor criminal definition and the thin border between legal and illegal acts has left a series of exceptions that trusts and collective investment firms have taken advantage of to repeat banking opacity.

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