Yawn – it’s that tax-grab argument again

About a century ago, when I first started out in AML, I was introduced to the work of John Walker.  He is an Australian criminologist with a particular interest in money laundering, and one of his most interesting (and for me, useful) projects has been his tracking of the flows of criminal money around the world – where criminal money is generated, and where it goes to be laundered.  Marvellous stuff – here’s a recent report.  Over the years, John and I have almost met on several occasions, at various AML gatherings, but something always goes wrong and so he remains an e-colleague, albeit a much-valued one.

This morning (evening for him, sitting with a tinny by his barbie in Oz) he emailed me an article that appeared a couple of days ago in his local paper, the Canberra Times – it’s by a Senior Fellow at the Aussie Institute of Public Affairs, and is entitled (wait for it – and you thought I liked to make AML sound exciting) “Ravenous monsters of the deep have woken“.  I won’t spoil your own reading, but in short the author suggests that “the persecution of tax havens by the OECD and its members represents only one link in a chain of efforts by governments to discourage individuals and companies from availing themselves of the full benefits of tax competition”.  Why yes, it’s our old friend the tax-grab: any attempt by governments to control financial flows must be a cynical effort to bleed their citizens dry.

Thankfully we have the clear-thinking John to hand to make the case for AML, and his response has now appeared in the Canberra Times.  You can read it here – it’s about six letters down, entitled “Secret out, money laundering is indefensibly dirty business“.  It’s the usual situation, of course: in theory, everyone supports the idea of lower tax – until you point out that it means less schooling, fewer hospitals, bad transport, etc.  In the same way,  Ms Novak’s “fiscal exploitation” sounds bad – who wants that? – until you realise that it simply means a jurisdiction trying to get enough money to provide a good standard of living for its people.

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3 Responses to Yawn – it’s that tax-grab argument again

  1. Claire says:

    Money laundering is just about greed. They claim they have earned the money. But have they really? When you exploit people, can you say that you deserve to put it all in your own pocket? Is it your right to destroy nature, poison the land & air, and worse, destroy people’s lives with crime & drugs for the sake of having a big bank account? I worked for a partner at one of the world’s biggest law firms, specialised in mergers, anti-trust, anti-cartel… Some of the briefs I read were really disgusting. A company, planning to buy another one so they can withdraw the product from the market and create scarcity. And afterwards raise the prices. Screw the customer. How proud can you be when you have a job like this??? I always joke about finding a rich man, and leading an easy life. But yes, as you have said before: where does the money come from? Should we not all ask the question how rich people really got rich? Get the nitty gritty details of poverty & exploitation behind their story.

  2. You know you’re preaching to the converted, Claire! For newer readers, Claire used to be married to a money launderer, so she has first-hand knowledge of a great deal. As far as we know, he is still in business….

  3. Claire says:

    I have to preach somewhere! 😀

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