Thinking Out of Pandora’s Box: Tax Hideouts & Fiscal Colonialism
Published (updated: ) in Uncategorized. Tags: Bantustans, BBC, CAA, Capital Maharaja Group, Ceylon Tobacco Company, Curacao, Education Ministry, England, Ethiopia, FDI, Guardian, Gurnah, Hemas, Horn of Africa, ICIJ, Myanmar, Netherlands, New York Times, Nobel, OCCRP, Oxford Martin School, Pandora Papers, Sarvodaya, Somalia, Tamil Eelam, Turnell, Unilever, USA, Wijeya Group, World Bank, Yohani.
‘Before you study the economics, study the economists!’
e-Con e-News 3-9 October 2021
Ruling classes worldwide can rob their own countries but only if they keep their loot in approved US and English hideouts. This is what the US and English media warned the world this week. The best capitalist hideouts for loot are in the US, England & Europe. Those who toe their imperialist line will not be named and shamed by their media outlets. Meanwhile, the BBC also hides their profits in a Netherlands hideout, just like Unilever does – this ee examines how Unilever set up a tax hideout in Curacao, named after a whaling company they set up with Nazi Germany (see ee Focus).
This week’s revelations about ‘corruption’, as usual in the ‘Third World’ only, serve up gossip and innuendo to divert from the real criminal activity (legal under capitalist law). Grandpass Anglo-Dutch Unilever does not have the same cachet as Gonawala Sunil or Makandure Madush, and Mattakuliya Ceylon Tobacco Co (owned by London’s British American Tobacco) does not evoke the same media-fashioned revulsion, yet they ferret away far more massive ill-gotten gains and do not pay taxes in Sri Lanka. They get away with this by bribing public (especially top treasury) officials and politicians (& other artists!). How they do it is the zillion-rupee question. The World Bank’s Transparency International, ‘global’ though it be, will not tell, nor will the revenue or police department.
Unilever and CTC cause massive injury to the country, by polluting our pores, lungs, waterways and soils with their expensively imported chemicals, causing cancers, magnifying our health costs. Their refusal to pay taxes denies funding to education, health, etc. As the most powerful multinationals operating in the country, they have a variety of financial manoeuvres (transfer pricing, IPR royalties, advertising etc.) through which they rob the country. This daily mundane robbery is enabled through the import-export plantation charade, which our economists love! But the worst crime is the prevention of capital investment in modern (machine-making) industry! In fact, the imperialist countries changed the definition of foreign direct investment to include pure financial activity not investment in production! No wonder our economists love FDI now!
• So this is the real reason for the Pandora pusvedilla: To position onshore financial hideouts to attract flight capital escaping certain Asian and African countries, and to blunt the comparative advantage offshore tax hideouts enjoy! This is also a direct result of US policy publicly announced by the US President in June to use spy & media agencies for such work (see ee Focus)
• The BBC, one of the sponsors of the Pandora Papers, also uses tax hideouts. Google will not open the weblink that gives further details about the BBC’s hideout. ee had to use the ‘cached’ feature, to open the site. It says: The BBC has a shell company, BBC Worldwide Holdings BV registered in the Netherlands with tax avoidance specialists Intertrust. The Bloomberg entry on BBC Worldwide Holdings BV – says it’s a mailbox company! (Random Notes)
• Instant popstar Yohani, promoted by India’s Reliance Company-made superstar Amithab Bachan, is sent to Bollywood India (where she gets hit in the eye) and the Indian Foreign Secretary comes here to gaze at the Dalada Maligava, to assay Trincomalee port, to Jaffna where he lays down Tamil Eelam’s political priorities, and to the Mahaveli’s source in the hills, where ‘unrest’ erupts on the plantations, with workers assaulting estate managers. Then India’s intelligence agency arrests an LTTE operative, who they themselves trained, with assorted gun and non-pharma drugs (tho not fish-poaching trawlers). The Indian Army chief arrives, just as Japanese warships and German War Officials leave. Only astrologers can make sense of such fortuitous confluences! There’s more:
• East of us: NATO is escalating war on China’s western borders. ‘Can the Myanmar Opposition Really Create… a Formidable Army?’ …and possibly win victories against, Myanmar’s military’, asks Rockfeller-funded US Council of Foreign Relations this week.
• West of us: the US is financing terrorism against Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. The US military’s AFRICOM has 11 bases in the Horn of Africa, over 1/3rd of the permanent and semi-permanent US bases across Africa. They completed annual war games known as Cutlass Express, with England and India along East Africa’s coastal regions and the Western Indian Ocean,
• Just above our heads to the far north, the head of England’s Intelligence Committee was in Kabul this week to launch the new ‘Great Game’, along with top US officials, while regional governments from Pakistan to China to Iran attempted to prevent US and English sponsored terrorism in Central Asia. While south of us, under the guise of curtailing ‘illegal’ migration, etc., white-settler Australia is prowling our seas.
• ee news sections note the preponderance of chatter about the US and English government’s Pandora Papers. Yet few mention that one of the Sri Lankans repeatedly named was also a group director at the Maharaja Corporation, a close friend of its recently deceased owner, and a VP of American Express. Other news chatter continued the chemical import lobby’s ravings, again led by Maharaja’s media, and the daily whine by economists about submitting to the IMF, and ending weak import restrictions. Meanwhile the IMF is demanding Pakistan impose more income taxes and privatize its power sector.
• In the wake of the UN nestling more openly in the arms of capitalist banks and MNCs, as was evident at the recent World Food Summit, the US-controlled World Trade Organization (WTO)’s 12th ministerial conference will be held in Geneva from 30 November to 3 December. Yet there’s no publicity about the WTO and WB still refusing to allow vaccine production in our countries. Instead the news reports the World Bank is worried that the SL government’s focus on preventing further Covid-19 spread could dampen economic recovery!
Despite the devastation caused by 40 years of undermining national health and education that peaked with the deaths, nay, murder, wrought by Covid, the policies and institutional bases of the ‘free trade’ laissez-faire project remain entirely intact.
• Speaking of plantations, our dearly beloved economists love to chatter about the dynamism of the private sector, yet there has been every little increase in productivity on the plantations for almost 200 years. And workers keep stirring latex, and plucking tea and coconuts, by hand.
The English left us the most impoverished peasantry in Asia in 1948, yet our dearly beloved economists love the English import-export plantation economy. And now when we face challenges worse than what the English faced in WW2, we have economists like the Wijeya Group’s WA Wijewardena criticizing attempts to control capital flight. However, he says it was alright when our English ‘friends’ did so: “Exchange control was introduced to old Ceylon during WW2 by the English rulers to prevent the country’s foreign-exchange resources from falling into the hands of the enemies, namely, the Germans and the Japanese.’ (ft.lk/columns/Repatriation-and-surrender-requirements-Has-the-blame-game-infected-Central-Bank/4-723831). But now the English, Germans and Japanese are all on the same side as WAW, so give it to them!
• A Sri Lankan worker was killed on the Belarus-Lithuania border this week. ee recalls hearing, since May about 2,000 migrants from ‘Iraqi Kurdistan’ and West/Central Africa had been directed into Lithuania, with an ‘irregular militant group’ in Lithuania pushing them back at gunpoint (tass.com/world/1315527). Yet, German employers seems to love us. The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) feels there are too many barriers to immigration in South Asia. Japan too seems sad they deported two SL workers illegally. While India claims to have arrested SL workers going to Canada. Who is really behind illegal labor trafficking here? It is a big business, and rife with sexual abuse, we’re told. Those countries’ industrial lobbies are demanding our workers to wash the backsides of their elderly, and work in dangerous toxic occupations, for less pay than their own workers, until they can get robots to do it.
• Under the guise of proclaiming itself as a beacon of the free press, the US media hides thousands of police killings. The media’s job is to create fake issues and divert. See ee Quotes, ee Security, Unreported
A1. Reader Comments –
• World Bank undermines Education Ministry • ee wrong about local pharma • ee gets arts & science upside down
A2. Quotes of the Week
• Bribing Education Ministry • Millers Flood Rice Market During Harvest • CID & CAA • Banks Only Fund Consumption • US FBI doesn’t count All Murder • Pandora Scratches Surface • Accountants Aid Corporate Fraud • Facebook Wins Elections
A3. Random Notes –
• Nobel Prizes & Imperialism • BBC Uses Tax Hideouts • Presdients, Privatizing and Looting Workers • What Drugs did Ever Ace unload? • CIA Behind Pandora • Debt, Google, Local Media Bull • CIA & Australian Economist Arrested in Myanmar • Fake Facebook Whistleblowers & War on Myanmar & Ethiopia • NATO & Annual Genocide Thanksgiving
B. ee Focus
B1. US Government Provides Another Trove of Offshore Papers of People It Dislikes
B2. The Pinstripe Mafia – Bankers, Lawyers & Accountants & their Tax Hideouts
C. News Index
A1. Reader Comments
ee thanks Readers who send articles of interest. Please excerpt or summarize what is important about any news sent, or your comments, and place any e-link at the end. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• ‘Loved ee’
• ‘Under whom was SL’s Education Ministry first undermined by the World Bank? (see ee Quotes)
• ee got the facts about Citihealth being an importer of Indian pharma CIPLA wrong.’ (ee responds: some info was dated, but we stand by our assertion that the so-called ‘local’ pharma industry is a fraud)
• ee has got it upside down. Technology comes from Art & Science, which comes from nature. ‘Technology’ is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry. ‘Art’ means something intuitive, imprecise, and subjective, a skill cultivated through practice and imagination. ‘Science’ means something researched, measured, and objective, a hard statistic backed by government funding and white coats.’
A2. Quotes of the Week_
• ‘The World Bank has traditionally been the largest education donor/lender to Sri Lanka. The ADB also has been a lender to the education sector, accounting for a large proportion of foreign assistance. Funds were also made available by other lending and donor agencies such as UNICEF, DFID, SIDA, GTZ, JICA, JBIC, all of which have facilitated the modernization of education.’ – DH Wickramanayake, Donor Aid to the Education Sector in Sri Lanka, 2015
• ‘Farmers are inherently disadvantaged in the market because a large number of farmers sell their harvest at the same time, due to lack of capacity to store paddy and credit bound relationships, due to upfront capital requirement for uncertain several months.
Cooperative decision-making by large millers, who handle a sufficiently large (about 33.8%) share of purchase in the paddy market gain an oligopolistic advantage by releasing large stocks of rice to the market during the harvesting period to create a glut so that they can purchase paddy at minimum prices.’ – ee Agriculture, Rising Prices
• ‘“How can I expect an unbiased investigation when the CID did not want to assist a government institution – the CAA – when their assistance was sought at a time when our officials raided the Welisara Lanka Sathosa warehouse. When I called DIG CID and requested their assistance, the DIG wanted me to lodge a complaint first. It was only the OIC Ragama that came forward to offer his assistance when I made a request from him. It’s almost 3 months since I lodged a complaint with the CID regarding life threats I was getting from a former CAA higher official. I even provided them with the name of the person and details of his telephone. They are yet to commence the initial inquiries.’ – ee Agriculture, CAA
• ‘The causes of inflation are often beyond the realm of money supply. In the case of Sri Lanka, a multitude of structural factors contribute to inflation. SL’s economy is heavily service-oriented, with 47% of employment and 60% of GDP dependent on this sector. Meanwhile 27% of outstanding loans and advances from commercial banks are towards services, with a further 26% for personal consumption. By allocating labour and financial resources to import-dependent luxury services like tourism, while neglecting manufacturing and agricultural production that could be traded internationally or consumed domestically, the system is rigged towards an inflationary tendency.
The need of the hour is not to pursue deflationary monetary policy that would suppress growth. Rather, monetary policy should be harnessed as a key lever by which to transform the structure of the economy towards production. In this regard, Sri Lanka should learn from the experience of state-led development banks in East Asia, which have been a cornerstone in that region’s industrialisation.’ – ee Economists, Arrant Nonsense
• ‘Our World in Data, housed in Oxford University’s Oxford Martin School [installed in the Indian Institute building, erected with money extorted from Indian peasants in the 1880s], presents data displaying decreasing racial violence in the USA, overlooking a fact that the FBI itself admits: that it “does not collect complete information on USA law enforcement police killings.” Indeed, Our World in Data makes no mention of “police killings of black people,” surely an important category of racial violence.’– ee Politics, Pinker
• ‘Shell companies have been on a roll all these years because the developed nations allow their properties to be owned by anonymous foreign firms. If the affluent countries legislate for the identities of the owners of assets on their soil to be disclosed, the problem of surreptitious investments could be tackled effectively. BBC informs us that England published draft legislation to that effect about 3 years ago, but it has not been presented to MPs. Will England pass the proposed law and take the lead in fighting tax dodgers and money launderers, compelling other countries to follow suit? The ICIJ has sifted through about 12 million financial documents, but there is reason to believe it has been scratching the surface of the problem of offshore transactions. It has received documents only from 14 companies and there are many other outfits.’ – ee Business, Pandora
• ‘As ideologues, the transnational capitalist class’s intellectual products serve the interests of the globalizing rather than localizing capital. This follows directly from the shareholder-driven growth imperative that lies behind the globalization of the world economy and the increasing difficulty of enhancing shareholder value in purely domestic firms, encouraging the tendencies to ‘creative accounting ‘and fraud.’ – ee Business, Pandora
• ‘In recent campaigns around the world – from India and Indonesia across Europe to the US – we’ve seen the candidate with the largest following on Facebook usually wins.’ – ee Media, Facebook
A3. Random Notes (‘Seeing Number in Chaos’)_
• English writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, born in Zanzibar, across the pond from us, was awarded Warmonger Nobel’s Prize for Literature, for his ‘uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism’. Yet Gurnah is critical of African novelists like Kenya’s Ngugi Wa Thiongo who challenged imperialism. Gurnah is also critical of Zanzibar’s 1964 100-day revolution. He echoes the English colonial strategy which plays Arab landowners and Indian merchants against African peasants. Zanzibar’s 1964 revolution inspired JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera’s attempt at instant insurrection in 1971 against a nationalist government. PS: Nobel owns warmonger Bofors, etc! Gurnah is published by Bloomsbury Publishing, linked to the English state and to the colonial emirate of Qatar as well!
• Since tax on royalties ‘are very favourable’ in the Netherlands, the BBC is ‘channelling’ worldwide royalties for shows funded by the TV licence payer, through a Dutch shell company. Such an arrangement is known as a Dutch Royalty Conduit.
Intertrust (former Fortis Intertrust) is the largest company dealing in tax avoidance in the Netherlands. BBC Worldwide Holdings BV is registered with Intertrust in Amsterdam, with no staff in attendance. BBC was asked: What is the role of BBC Worldwide Holdings BV? Is it a royalty conduit company? Where are funds passing through the company channelled to? Does it administer BBC royalties worldwide? (see, nicholaswilson.com)
They answered mainly about BBC Worldwide, a different company, ‘not subject to the Freedom of Information Act by virtue of 6(1) (b) (ii)’. BBC said, ‘in respect of state taxation’ they do not avoid paying tax, but refuse information about BBC WH BV, the subject of the request (see ee Focus).
• Workers’ share on national wealth was reduced during the presidency of CBK, exacerbated by so-called reforms. JR and Premadasa laid the groundwork by crushing the unions, the long-term effects felt long after they ‘left’ office? By opening up the economy to external competition JR killed the profitability of domestic capital. The only way to increase profitability was to decrease the labor share. CBK’s reforms included privatizing a lot of commanding heights of the economy, which boosts profitability in the short term but increases cost of production in the medium-long term. Her wave of liberalization went, in many respects, beyond that of JR and Premadasa. Many more sectors were handed over…
• This week saw the headline ‘Ever Ace world’s largest container ship sails for Malaysia after docking 24 hrs at Colombo Port’. Curious to see drug importer Hemas’ CEO Kasturi Chellaraja, the ship’s captain and ‘other dignitaries’ pose for a photo in front of Ever Ace! What did the ship unload? Meanwhile, Hemas continues to produce fake PR that subsidiary Morison produces drugs locally!
• The CIA is seen as behind the leak of Pandora Papers, ‘given the curious lack of focus on US nationals’. Major US, English and European banks, eg, JPMorgan Chase, Standard Chartered, Deutsche or HSBC are not named. The whistle-blower, OCCRP’s reporting partners are BBC and Guardian. BBC was headed by Rona Fairhead, 2014-7, a director of HSBC 2004-16. Fairhead’s husband, Tom, is a director of Campbell Lutyens, linked to NM Rothschild. The money-losing Guardian has a long lucrative relationship with HSBC. Billionaires such as eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and investor George Soros are also not named. They both provide funding to the ICIJ and OCCRP via their highly shady Luminate and Open Society ‘philanthropic’ enterprises. The OCCRP’s financiers also include National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and US Agency for International Development (USAID) both linked to US war machines.
• Sarvodaya-linked Capital Media’s Echelon magazine, linked to EconomyNext, Fitch, etc, is hosting an online forum with Lee Buchheit, international specialist who’s worked ‘on debt restructuring in soft-pegged countries like Argentina and Venezuela as well as Greece’. Buchheit worked with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, which represented Google in antitrust matters, as when it violated Europe’s competition rules, because major techy companies such as Google and Facebook mine people’s personal consumer and political data, compiling huge data sets that prevent new competition. Incumbent firms might have developed such sophisticated profiles of consumers, and can target advertising with such precision, new rivals cannot hope to catch up.
• The Australian settler ‘economist’ arrested in Myanmar, Sean Turnell, a professor at Macquarie University, is a ‘Principal Advisor’, along with Prissy Clapp, former US Embassy Chief in Burma, to the Rockefeller-funded Asia Society Task Force. ASTF luminaries include (ex) US General Wesley K Clark, George Soros, Amartya Sen, various USAID spooks, academic stipendiaries, promoting privatization of agriculture, health, education.
• The real teledramas (more correctly soap-operas, cos they’re usually funded by principal soap-maker Unilever) are those claiming to be ‘oppositional’. Take recent ‘striking testimony’ by fake Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who wishes to shut down the Myanmari and Ethiopian people’s access to ‘social’ media, which just happens to be US-controlled. It is time for Sri Lanka to assert its sovereignty, like China, Russia (even Australia) by providing alternate social media., also taking control of the cable system to ensure the country is connected even if NATO decides otherwise. ‘Free’ Media is like the ‘Free’ Market and ‘Free’ Trade, the monopoly of imperialists and their multinational banks & corporations.
• As it gets colder up there in NATO’s world, they like to glaze over their original sins, in fragmented palatable form for them, by selecting, framing and pacing of how they bring up the genocidal history of the settler states in the Americas. They divert from the national nature of the original people’s struggle, revealing one aspect at a time. The destruction of original families came after intermarriage (meticization), cohabitation, where settlers learned how to survive, borrowing industrial knowhow (snowshoe, canoe, fur trade etc), for which they kill turkeys and soon give thanks. They then waged horrific wars where they practiced scorched-earth policies, cutting off food supplies (boreal forests, buffalo), then killed or deported traditional leadership. They drove people off productive land onto ‘reservations’ (expertise they shared in Africa re Bantustans, & Australia) then renamed and divided people into tribes, bands, etc, planted fake leadership, promoted alcohol and drugs, split up families, forbade original languages, had a pass system curtailing movement, etc… Recall this together when merchants scare u at Halloween and get u fattened at Thanksgiving.
B. Special Focus_
B1. US Government Provides Another Trove of Offshore Papers of People It Dislikes
So there’s another ‘leak’ of papers about tax-evading offshore investments by people the US doesn’t like:
‘The secret deals and hidden assets of some of the world’s richest and most powerful people have been revealed in the biggest trove of leaked offshore data in history. Branded the Pandora papers, the cache includes 11.9mn files from companies hired by wealthy clients to create offshore structures and trusts in tax hideouts such as Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland, Cayman Islands…
“The files were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington. ICIJ shared access to the leaked data with select media partners including Guardian, BBC Panorama, Le Monde, Washington Post. Over 600 journalists have sifted through the files as part of a massive global investigation.
The Pandora Papers represent the latest – and largest in terms of data volume – in a series of major leaks of financial data that have convulsed the offshore world since 2013. The papers are said to come from a total of 14 offshore providers of legal vehicles which allow people to hide their money and to avoid tax payments.”
There’s however not hint of how these papers were acquired. Who had gained access to them? How? What was the chain of custody for these? Are these the complete files of those 14 companies or were some removed before publishing? Which ones? Are all of those files authenticated and verified or is some forged material mixed in between them?
Unfortunately none of the reports about the ‘leak’ have covered those questions.
But there are at least 2 big hints that these ‘Pandora papers’ are, like the ‘Panama papers’ 5 years ago, and the ‘Paradise papers’ 4 years ago, part of an ‘information operation’ by the usual 5-eyes suspects, the secret services of the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand.
On 3 June 2021 the White House held a Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials on the Fight Against Corruption:
“ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great. Thanks. Hi, everybody. Good morning and thanks for joining the call today. I am really excited to be speaking to all of you about the President’s anti-corruption agenda in advance of our rollout later this morning of a national security study memorandum – that’s NSSM – on the fight against corruption…
So, with the memorandum, President Biden is formally establishing the fight against corruption as a core national security interest of the US. That was a commitment that he made during the campaign. And his pledge was he would prioritize anti-corruption efforts and bring additional transparency to the US and international financial systems.”
The memorandum in question is quite short. Under ‘Section 2: Strategy’ there are several interesting points:
‘(c) Hold accountable corrupt individuals, transnational criminal organizations, and their facilitators, including by, and where appropriate, identifying, freezing, and recovering stolen assets through increased information sharing and intelligence collection & analysis, criminal or civil enforcement actions, advisories, and sanctions or other authorities, and, where possible & appropriate, returning recovered assets for the benefit of the citizens harmed by corruption;…
(e) Support and strengthen the capacity of civil society, media, and other oversight & accountability actors to conduct research & analysis on corruption trends, advocate for preventative measures, investigate and uncover corruption, hold leaders accountable, and inform and support government accountability and reform efforts, and work to provide these actors a safe and open operating environment domestically and internationally;
(f) Work with international partners to counteract strategic corruption by foreign leaders, foreign state-owned or affiliated enterprises, transnational criminal organizations, and other foreign actors and their domestic collaborators, including, by closing loopholes exploited by these actors to interfere in democratic processes in the US and abroad’
With yesterday’s ‘leak’ we see a first implementation of the June strategy. The US is using its intelligence capabilities, i.e. to hack into the systems of offshore service providers, and selectively releases whatever it might find useful for its aim to the ‘civil society’ and media who publish (or not) whatever dirt they are given. In the Q&A of their background briefing the ‘senior administration officials’ confirmed that was exactly what they were planning to do:
“Q: Thank you for doing this. As you know, anti-corruption activists periodically urge the US government to use its various assets and capabilities, including the intelligence community, to expose specific cases of corruption overseas, to name and shame corrupt officials — and the arguments they make are familiar — but also include not only, you know, a deterrent to corruption, but also a possible contribution to the promotion of democracy.
Does the memorandum – does the program include any component that connects with that?
Senior Administration Official: What I can say on that front is that the memorandum includes components of the intelligence community. So, the work on that front, in part, remains to be seen, but they are included – the Director of National Intelligence and CIA.
So we’re just going to be looking at all of the tools in our disposal to make sure that we identify corruption where it’s happening and take appropriate policy responses.
And I’ll take the opportunity to mention that we’re also going to be using this effort to think about what more we can do to bolster other actors that are out in the world exposing corruption and bringing it to light.’
So, of course, the US government has its own internal methods, but, largely, the way that corruption is exposed is through the work of investigative journalists and investigative NGOs.
The US government – to my point earlier, in terms of the support we’re already providing – in some instances provides support to these actors. And we’ll be looking at what more we can do on that front as well.
Q: What does the word “support” mean in that context?
Senior Administration Official: Well, sometimes it boils down to foreign assistance. There are lines of assistance that have jumpstarted investigatory journalism organizations. What comes to my mind most immediately is OCCRP, as well as foreign assistance that goes to NGOs, ultimately, that do investigative work on anti-corruption, as well.”
The allegedly independent Organized Crime And Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) is funded, like the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, through various ‘western’ foundations and ‘western’ governments. As the ‘senior administration official’ admits it was ‘jumpstarted’ by the US (& UK) government.
The US has copied the model of WikiLeaks. In 2017 the Trump administration designated WikiLeaks as a ‘non-state hostile intelligence service’ for publishing secret government papers given to it by whistle-blowers who exposed murder, hacking and other misdeeds by the US government.
The US has for many years propped up competition to Wikileaks by founding and/or supporting OCCRP, ICIJ and similar organizations who are fed with materials provided by 5-eyes intelligence agencies. These organizations are ‘non-state friendly intelligence service’ for publishing private papers of people the 5-eyes dislike.
A lengthy recent Yahoo piece on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks (see corrections to its ‘Russiagate’ nonsense) explicitly made that point:
‘We’re kind of post-WikiLeaks right now,’ said a former senior counterintelligence official.”
Yet spy services are increasingly using a WikiLeaks-like model of posting stolen materials online. In 2018 the Trump administration granted the CIA aggressive new secret authorities to undertake the same sort of hack-and-dump operations for which Russian intelligence has used WikiLeaks. Among other actions, the agency has used its new powers to covertly release information online about a Russian company that worked with Moscow’s spy apparatus.
The program was not launched under Trump but is, like the Biden memorandum above, just an extension of a program that has existed for years. OCCRP was founded in 2006 and at first hit only at East European governments. The ‘Panama papers’ came out in 2016. The new ‘Pandora papers’ are just a new variant of these.
A main purpose of these releases of stolen data is propaganda. Just look at the picture the Guardian put on top of its story about them. The by far biggest head in that picture is of Russia’s president Putin. He is however not mentioned at all in the ‘Pandora papers’ and there is no evidence that he has any offshore holdings or is exceptionally rich. The only relation he has with the story is this:
“King Abdullah is among dozens of current and former leaders whose overseas investments were exposed. Other leaders included President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whose alleged former lover was found to have purchased an apartment in Monaco.”
So some rich Russian girl, who some 20 years ago allegedly(!) had an affair with Putin, bought an apartment in a foreign country using an offshore vehicle. (The ‘alleged’ affair is btw a never confirmed rumor that was spread by the Russian outlet Proekt which was financed by the anti-Putin oligarch Khodorkovky who is living in London.)
How can that justify to lead the release, which names 35 current and former national leaders (but not Putin), many officials and dozens billionaires, with Putin’s picture? (In 2016 Guardian did the same with the ‘Panama papers’. Putin was not mentioned in those either but led in the Guardian story about them.)
Another hint that this is all US government filtered propaganda (& blackmail material) comes from the lack of names of US billionaires & corrupt politicians in the provided material.
That none of their names are to be found in the published offshore services’ files points to a careful elimination of these.
The published papers are a system’s fake critique of itself. While they support US foreign policy objectives by accusing people the US does not like they will also lead to more support for financial surveillance and spying. By disgracing or eliminating overseas competition they promote US tax hideouts like Alaska, Nevada; Delaware to foreign ‘customers’:
“The Pandora Papers contains details on over 200 trusts set up in the US in recent years. In dozens of cases, clients have abandoned more traditional havens, such as the British Virgin Islands& Bahamas, in favor of the US.
“The most popular destination has been South Dakota, where the past decade has seen the value of assets held in trusts reach more than $360billion. State laws in S Dakota allow for the establishment of secret trusts which don’t have to pay a cent of tax to the state for any earnings. Unlike most states, which restrict the life of trusts to a century or less, South Dakota trusts are also ‘perpetual,’ meaning they have no end date. This means they can continue making tax free gains and passing them on to future generations – theoretically forever.”
So the US set out to blame offshore tax hideouts & foreign leaders of corruption while it itself is the biggest sinner with regards to both. There is a pattern in this. Whenever the US accuses some foreign person or government of doing ‘something’ there is a high probability that ‘something’ is exactly what the US is doing itself.
B2. The Pinstripe Mafia – Bankers, Lawyers & Accountants & their Tax Hideouts
‘The huge number of legal entities formed in the US each year are around 10 times more than in all 41 tax hideout jurisdictions combined. Because so little information is collected on US companies, it is impossible to tell how many are shell companies and not operational companies, but US law enforcement consistently has indicated that the number is high enough to cause grave concerns. To judge from our interviews with Trust and Company Service Providers and from advertising, US shell companies are a popular choice among non-US residents.’
– The Puppet Masters, How the Corrupt Use Legal Structures to Hide Stolen Assets & What to Do about It, Emile van der Does de Willebois, etal), World Bank 2011
Tax Hideouts (THs) – misnamed Offshore Financial Centres (OFCs) by the IMF to give them respectability – are set up by imperialist countries, to provide legal and financial camouflage to help allied ruling classes, multinational corporations and High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) to escape economic sanctions, taxes and anti-money-laundering regulation.
THs evolved in close linkages to England, Europe and their settler-colonial states, booming after so-called decolonization. Their corporations, banks and financial service providers have set up a constantly shifting array of subsidiaries dedicated to exploiting lenient fiscal and legal regimes that could be set up in former colonial outposts. These imperialist governments supported TH development as long as they have profited from it, sometimes sacrificing tax income to corporate profits.
They have been clinically defined as ‘Jurisdictions that deliberately create legislation to ease transactions undertaken by people who are not resident in their domains, with a purpose of avoiding taxation and/or regulations, which they facilitate by providing a legally backed veil of secrecy to obscure the beneficiaries of those transactions’.
THs have 2 key characteristics. They are often located in small ‘city-like states’ (English-dominated Singapore & Hong Kong, etc.) with close ties to large imperialist countries; and they boost local public revenue for allied puppets by attracting businesses and wealthy investors from elsewhere. They offer low tax rates, low and ‘flexible’ regulation, low supervision, and stringent confidentiality about client data. Only overseas corporations and individuals can use them; locals cannot.
In 1856 Charles III of Monaco set up a casino to generate revenue for his impoverished princedom, since roulette and gambling were prohibited in neighbouring France. A direct railway line to Nice (1868) and prohibition of gambling in Germany (1872) enabled him to abolish all direct taxes to avoid having to consult his subjects. This zero-tax concept became a highly popular destination for HNWIs, and banks specialising in managing private portfolios soon followed.
Two states in the US pioneered a second concept for THs to generate fiscal income: low regulation. In 1889 New Jersey introduced special laws to attract corporations away from New York on the other side of the Hudson River. This legislation freed corporations from the much more restrictive NY legislation about monopolies, mergers and takeovers, and trusts. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust, and many other companies, moved their formal seat to a New Jersey shell company, keeping head offices in NY.
Nearby Delaware, settled by the DuPont family (19thC counterrevolutionaries fleeing France & Haiti) quickly copied the low-regulation concept to counter budget shortfalls. With little oversight, companies registered there rose from 1,400 in 1902 to 4,800 in 1919. 40% of Delaware public revenue soon derived from registration duties and corporate taxation. US President Biden represents Delaware!
The increasing divergence of state and local corporate taxes across the US opened opportunities for tax avoidance via shell companies. Delaware responded by lowering taxation on shell companies. Royalties paid to a Delaware company by its US subsidiaries, eg, were made tax-free, though the company would still be liable to pay federal corporate tax. By cleverly routing their revenue flows via Delaware shells, US companies could reduce their tax bill by 15-24%. Shell companies offered the additional advantage of confidentiality, because the beneficial owner of the revenue flows could choose to remain hidden.
By 2011 Delaware counted more corporations than inhabitants, 945,000 against 898,000. Those corporations generated some $860million in duties and taxes, about 25% of public revenue.
The Birth of the Tax Hideout – The Swiss financial hideout began in the 1920s when, after WW1 and the USSR Revolution, the main warmongers involved had to increase taxes on large fortunes.
Throughout the 19th century, the richest European families were allowed to accumulate wealth by paying little or no taxes. After the USSR revolution, the world changed. The state vowed to compensate generously those who had suffered during the war and to pay for the retirement of veterans. That year the top marginal income tax rate rose to 50%; in 1924 it reached 72%. The industry of tax evasion was born.
The hideout-business birthplaces – Geneva, Zurich, Basel – enjoyed fundamentally favorable trends that were already popular. Banks had formed a cartel in the early 1900s (Swiss Bankers Association set up 1912) and were allowed to make the Swiss government pay relatively high interest rates, which made Swiss banks very profitable. From 1907 they had benefited from having a last-resort lender, the Swiss National Bank, which could intervene in the event of a crisis and ensure the stability of the entire system. So by WW1, Switzerland had a financial industry with clear support and a major network of credit establishments. Switzerland had enjoyed the guarantee of perpetual neutrality since the Congress of Vienna in 1815, and emerged from WW1 and related social upheavals unscathed.
The boom in the tax-evasion industry was also made possible by the transformation of the nature of wealth. In industrialized countries, financial wealth had, since the mid-19thC, overtaken land ownership. In 1920 the richest people in the world usually held financial securities: stocks and bonds issued by public authorities or by large private companies. Securities were pieces of paper like large banknotes. Like notes, most securities did not bear names, but had the phrase ‘pay to bearer’: with possession deciding the legal owner. Unlike individual notes, stocks and bonds could have an extremely high value, as high as several million dollars today. It was possible to hold a huge fortune anonymously.
Banking secrecy (the 3rd concept common to THs) was fairly widespread at the beginning of the 20th century. France, England, Germany and the US had it, amongst others, and the authorities there could lift it under certain conditions. By contrast, Switzerland attached such importance to banking secrecy that even the country’s own tax authorities had difficulty in obtaining the information required.
Political pressure from Switzerland’s neighbours caused the country to dig in during 1930s. Trying to track wealth hidden abroad, Germany and France tried to obtain Swiss account data. In 1931 Berlin sent over agents to infiltrate bank staff. In 1932 Paris harassed local subsidiaries of Swiss banks, conducting police searches, instigating legal proceedings, sequestrating deposits, and imprisoning bank officials.
When frightened foreign clients began withdrawing deposits from Switzerland, causing one Geneva bank to collapse, the government reacted by beefing up its banking secrecy. Under legislation adopted in 1934 any violation became a criminal offence and prosecution of it mandatory whether or not the client affected filed a formal complaint, which, combined with the long-established practice of using numbered rather than named accounts, formed an effective shield for asset ownership.
The Swiss banking secrecy law therefore served to facilitate tax evasion. Swiss banks’ foreign deposits rose 28% by 1937. Switzerland thus invented anonymous accounts, maintaining the strictest secrecy.
As early as the 1920/30s, other countries followed. The Bahamas used the competitive advantages of its zero-tax regime to attract HNWIs from the US and Canada, followed by Bermuda. Luxemburg introduced low taxes for holding companies, Switzerland added Delaware-style permissive corporate regulation to its attractions, and Liechtenstein copied the Swiss banking secrecy law. This was only the beginning.
Unilever & the Caribbean – Curaçao was designed as a tax hideout by purposely combining low taxation, low corporate regulation, and confidentiality.
The Dutch Caribbean islands were not economically important for the Netherlands or for Dutch corporations and investors until the discovery of oil in neighbouring Venezuela. Royal Dutch/Shell built a refinery on Curaçao to process Venezuelan oil; a US company linked to Standard Oil did the same on Aruba. In 1918 Shell’s refinery became the company’s biggest, and the world’s third biggest by 1938.
In 1936, Unilever co-founded the Anglo-German Fellowship. In 1937, Unilever set up ‘an outlet for blocked Marks’ and to import raw materials without using foreign exchange, helping to build a German whaling fleet, named Unitas Deutsche Walfang GmbH, launched with Unilever’s African trading company UAC, which did big business with Germany. Their whaling fleet was confiscated after WW2.
During their WW2, in 1940, following the German attack on the Netherlands, Royal Dutch chose Curaçao, since it was between the US and England, and closer than Indonesia. By 1942 some 140 companies also set up similar offices. These offices looked like shell companies: they did no more than perform administrative corporate formalities such as convening and minuting annual general meetings. The board and business operations of those companies remained abroad. However, the offices differed in purpose. They served to safeguard Dutch corporate assets from sequestration by the ‘Allies’ and did not facilitate tax avoidance, paying customary dues. Moreover, the offices were all wound up after the war.
The Bretton Woods’ institutions – WB, IMF, WTO – shaped the foundations for governance of international finance following their WW2.
In 1950 Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij (NHM), forerunner of ABN AMRO, was the only Dutch bank that had continued its international operations throughout the war from its New York office. Wealth taxes were driving capital away from the countries imposing them. To shield investors from ‘fiscal difficulties’ by inserting a third-country trust or holding company between them and their investments, they chose Curacao. Such companies proliferated in Luxemburg, but the bank needed something closer to the US for serving Dutch investors in the US.
They set up the NHM Trustkantoor Curaçao, the island’s first unit dedicated to tax avoidance.
In 1951 the acting governor submitted draft legislation to the parliament granting shell companies a 90% tax exemption on dividends received. In September 1952 the business tax for shell companies was reduced to 2.4-3 %, one-tenth of the normal rate, but did not apply to locals. The government then decided to find countries willing to conclude tax treaties with favourable rates on money flowing into shell companies so that investors paid little or no tax at source and a pittance in Curaçao. The authorities prioritised negotiations with the US, England and the Netherlands.
For those talks Curaçao needed and gained Dutch support. An Interim Agreement concluded in 1951 was enshrined in the 1955 Statute of the Kingdom of the Netherlands redefining the legal and administrative ties within the realm. The Antilles became largely autonomous while retaining close ties with the Netherlands. Those ties were of vital importance for Curaçao as a TH. They lent its service industry the necessary aura of reliability, notably because the The Hague High Court remained the realm’s court of highest instance. Moreover, Curaçao could rely on the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs for negotiating tax treaties with third countries.
In 1951 the Antillian government formally requested, more or less at the same time as the first legislation on shell companies, to be permitted to join the tax treaty between the US and the Netherlands, concluded 3 years before. Talks were conducted in Washington through the Dutch embassy there, and closely followed by the Ministry of Finance back in The Hague and by Dutch businesses like auditing firm Kraayenhof, later a constituent member of KPMG, and Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever. Royalty & interest payments to Curaçao shell companies were exempted from the 30% US tax at source and the rate for dividend payments was reduced to 15%. Unilever’s NY representative set up a subsidiary of the company’s finance division, Unitas. The number of shell companies more than doubled from 180 in 1956 to 400 in 1957.
In 1952 the Antilles had also asked to join the tax treaty between the Netherlands and England. In 1965 the Belastingregeling Koninkrijk (BRK, Tax Arrangement for the Realm), gave the Antilles the exemption of dividend taxes at source and gave the Netherlands an emergency brake, if the tax drain reached the undefined ‘intolerable proportions’. In short, the Dutch government, by accepting the BRK, willingly and knowingly created a conduit for tax avoidance in its own country.
Dutch corporations and financial institutions influenced this outcome. Multinational corporations Unilever, Royal Dutch Shell, Philips and C&A freely influenced the Dutch Ministry of Finance, solicited or unsolicited and directly or through banks like the NHM. The treaty’s tax exemption for dividend payments to Curaçao also opened up fresh corporate tax avoidance opportunities via the Netherlands. MNCs could now choose to concentrate dividend or royalty payments from subsidiaries elsewhere in an Amsterdam shell company and from there send the money tax-free to Curaçao for further low-duty uses. The advantages of such constructions could be considerable.
The Dutch government rendered options more attractive by purposely building the widest possible array of bilateral tax treaties with low mutual taxes on dividends and royalties. Funnelling a growing flow of money from around the world via the Netherlands to Curaçao, those treaties generated tax revenue and income for the Dutch legal, financial and accounting sector. Thus the BRK not only boosted Curaçao as a TH, but laid the groundwork for the Netherlands as a tax hideout as well.
Offshore financial services as a development strategy emerged in conjunction with formal ‘decolonisation’ in the 1960s.
The Antillean government systematically expanded available facilities to attract customers from all over the world. Key steps were a revised law on patent holding companies (1957), long-term legal guarantees of shell company tax rates (1958), individual and confidential tax rulings for special arrangements proposed by offshore companies (1967), and low entry requirements and an exemption from supervision for offshore banks (1972)
Tax rulings and the absence of offshore banking supervision worked hand-in-glove with a policy of utter discretion. The Antilles government fully understood the importance of shielding the identity of beneficial owners, as did Delaware, and it adopted a self-imposed, informal banking secrecy regime, not a formalised, legal one like the one the Bahamas copied from Switzerland in 1965. Banks and trust companies gave no information, unless ordered to do so by an Antillean court. Even a simple requirement for offshore banks to file notice of unusual transactions foundered on strong objections from the sector. Information requests from the Dutch tax authorities were put off for as long as possible, requests from other countries ignored unless the customers concerned agreed with their being answered.
Then again, as a rule, obtaining information about the owner or beneficiary of a given shell company’s assets was practically impossible, because bearer shares or the stacking of shell companies provided efficient shields… Opening what became known as the Antilles Route or the Antillean Window, these initiatives boosted both the number of shell companies and public revenue from profit taxes.
Dutch investment funds then found more ways for clients to profit from Curaçao facilities. Mutual funds from other countries followed. Second, Dutch and other corporations increasingly discovered the advantages of routing revenue flows via the Netherlands and Curaçao; the flow of dividends from the former to the latter.
Big inflows and the shell companies that fed on them were managed by subsidiaries, trust companies, and offshore banks set up by Dutch banks. All main auditing and tax consultancy firms also had Curaçao subsidiaries.
From mid-1960s the Curaçao offshore sector internationalised and diversified when the Eurodollar and Eurobond markets moved from Europe to the Caribbean, notably to the Bahamas, which became the second largest Eurodollar market after London.
Curaçao profited from US corporations setting up finance subsidiaries there to borrow in Eurodollars and profit from a special tax ruling, which allowed corporations to offset interest paid as costs against interest payments received from the US and granted them a fictive profit rate on their Curaçao subsidiaries of only 1% of money borrowed.
After 1969 such US corporate finance subsidiaries borrowed billions on the Eurodollar market via Curaçao. Eurodollar operations also boosted the number of offshore banks, the Bahamas already counting 200 such banks in 1967. Dutch banks in Curaçao were soon heavily outnumbered. Foreign banks in 1989 included 16 from Venezuela, 3 from the US, and 2 each from Canada, France, Italy, Switzerland.
With the liberalisation of national economies and the reduction of financial regulation from the 1970s problems emerged to encourage the return of some regulation within international finance. The IMF and World Bank’s structural adjustment policy and the creation of super-structural institutional agents such as the WTO and the World Economic Forum, boosted ‘globalization’ and this multiplied the THs, through ‘free’ trade, privatisation, and the transnationalisation of production processes.
During its 1970s and early 1980s peak, the variety of services widened considerably with mutual funds, real estate companies and insurance companies, offering a wider array of specialised financial, fiscal and legal services. However, Curaçao still lagged behind rival THs in the region like the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, or British Virgin Islands.
All that economic activity generated very little local employment, labour intensity being low. A typical trust company office scene showed: 2 staff members sit at a desk. One opens the annual general meeting of shell company A, takes the chair and appoints a colleague as secretary. They sign the list of shareholders present for the proxies they hold, leading the chairman to conclude that the company’s entire capital is represented. The 2 then tick off the points on the agenda, after which the chairman closes the meeting. Requiring very little manpower, TH Curaçao had a high unemployment rate of local people. Yet Aruba soon joined, and the Dutch and Antillean governments recommended further expansion of commercial services
During the late 1970s public opinion about THs began to change. Newspapers began criticising corporations from the Netherlands and abroad avoiding taxation by funnelling dividends and royalties to Curaçao. Offshore finance could continue to provide a means for economic development motivated several Caribbean states to establish OFCs in the mid-1990s. They were impelled by the decline in the agricultural production resulting from the elimination of preferential trade quotas on bananas
Tax Hideouts were implicated in the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, capital flight from the periphery to the core and with facilitating money laundering and tax evasion. The Dutch government in 1997 passed legislation stimulating multinationals to repatriate finance subsidiaries back to the Netherlands.
The 1990s also saw a growing international concern with tax avoidance and tax evasion, money laundering, and financial stability. Though the OECD and the EU limited themselves to non-binding reports about tax avoidance and evasion and fiscal competition, their lists of jurisdictions specialising in such practices helped to change public opinion about using THs from generally accepted to doubtful or even dubious. In 1989 the G7 countries launched the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), considerably widening its remit in 1996 and 2001. The taskforce issued detailed recommendations to countries about combating money laundering, monitored compliance, and punished non-compliers by blacklisting. The Financial Stability Forum, set up by the G7 after the 1997 Asian financial crisis, did the same for banking supervision. Attempts to combat the financing of terrorist organisations following the 9/11 attack on the NY World Trade Center increased the pressure on tax hideouts to adopt international standards of supervision, transparency, and information exchange.
Another astonishing set of statistics relates to global investment. Available data show with striking consistency that approximately 30% of all FDI is invested, or at the very least passes, through tax hideouts. UNCTAD data show a slight increase in foreign direct investment flows through tax hideouts since the mid-1990s. Why do tax hideouts play such a central role in global FDI?
What is missing in this tax-hideout debate is data. Tax evasion by the wealthiest individuals and large corporations can be stopped, but only if there are statistics to measure it, to implement proportional penalties against the countries that facilitate it, and to monitor progress.
An economic study of tax hideouts is limited to the available sources on the international investments of countries, the balances of payments, the on- and off-balance sheet positions of banks, the wealth and income of nations, the accounts of MNCs, and the archives of Swiss banks… Tax evasion is doing just fine. There has, in fact, never been as much wealth in tax hideouts as today.
The technical meaning of foreign direct investment can be misleading. Economists distinguish broadly between 2 types of cross-border investments. Portfolio investment was traditionally the passive holding of foreign securities such as stocks, bonds, and financial assets; whereas foreign direct investment involved “real” facilities in foreign lands, including factories, offices, distribution networks, subsidiaries, and so on.
Since the mid-1970s, however, the OECD has adopted a new definition of FDI: ‘an incorporated or unincorporated enterprise in which a foreign investor owns 10% or more of the ordinary shares or voting power of an incorporated enterprise or the equivalent of an unincorporated enterprise’. The OECD is perfectly aware that the 10% cutoff line is arbitrary. Nonetheless, the term FDI now represents the holding, active or passive, of 10% or above of shares in a foreign enterprise. As a result, FDI figures no longer register “real” investment in production, manufacturing, or services in foreign land, but rather represent ownership structures. This important distinction goes a long way in explaining some of the surprising statistics relating to FDI in tax hideouts. They suggest that MNCs use their tax hideout subsidiaries on a massive scale to invest in foreign countries.
Such statistics beg the question whether MNCs are truly investing in THs or merely using hideout subsidiaries to invest elsewhere (ie, do they serve merely as entrepôt centers?), and why would MNEs choose to re-route their investments through tax hideouts?
They do so primarily, we believe, for tax reasons. Tax, however, is not the only cause of statistical oddities. Some of the small British Caribbean dependencies are among the largest recipients of US FDI, and BVI is still the second largest source of FDI to China. Although there is much talk of the rise of China in the world economy, in 2006 Bermuda alone received 5 times more US FDI than China. Similarly, data concerning England (1st destination), the Netherlands (3rd), Switzerland (5th), Ireland (6th), Switzerland (8th), and Luxembourg (10th) are misleading. England apart, it is very unlikely this so-called FDI remains in these countries. We know that FDI from Hong Kong and BVI is largely a matter of Chinese capital being re-routed either for political reasons or in order to gain tax advantages. In other words, a considerable portion of FDI into China is not FDI at all but is local money being invested via an offshore location, a process called round tripping. The same pattern has been witnessed in Mauritius, which has emerged as the largest foreign investor in India, about 50% more than the US. This is solely, many experts believe, because of the benefits included in the taxation treaty between India and Mauritius. Tax hideouts are used, therefore, primarily as intermediaries to the world’s FDI flows or as entrepôt centers.
The global rich held in 2007 approximately $12trillion of their wealth in tax hideouts. It is as if the entire US annual GNP were parked in tax hideouts.
Finance is thought of as a hyper-mobile, decentralized and globalized web of impersonal units of risk trading. In this web London is normally ranked as either the largest or second largest wholesale financial center in the world. London is in practice the leading international financial center, whether one thinks of international banking credit activities, foreign exchange and over-the-counter derivatives transactions, marine insurance premiums, or international bonds issues.
Conventional rankings of international financial centers are founded on a debatable assumption, that British Crown Dependencies such as Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man, as well as British Overseas Territories such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, BVI or Gibraltar are independent and separate from England. Remove this assumption, and a far larger string of international centers emerges, accounting for nearly one-third of cross-border bank assets and liabilities in June 2008. If we add former colonies of the English state such as Singapore and HK, the impact of a political entity long considered defunct – the English Empire – on the contemporary financial system appears decisive, accounting for a 37% share of all international banking liabilities and 35% share of assets.
A closer examination of the list of international financial centers reveals 2 additional anomalies. One is the importance of mid-size European states such as Switzerland, the Benelux countries and Ireland in international finance. Each is a significant financial center in its own right; combined, they account for nearly 20% of international banking liabilities.
A second anomaly involves political entities long thought insignificant in the modern world: city-states. Among those, best known are Singapore, Hong Kong, and Luxembourg, but we could certainly add the Caymans, Jersey, Guernsey, Bahrain, Monaco, and, of course, the City of London, as modern variants. City-states, excluding London, accounted for nearly 17% of cross-border banking liabilities in March 2008, and with London, they account for roughly 28% of international banking liabilities.
This little exercise in reconfiguration of well-known statistics raises some intriguing questions. The exercise suggests we should pay special attention to the role of the English Empire in the creation of an English-dominated offshore economy. And we also should pay attention to the unique role played by the European intermediate hideouts. Both are used for tax avoidance and evasion purposes, which is the English-dominated pole of the offshore economy. However, these same English-influenced locations have also been closely linked to the rise of investment banking since the 1980s, whereas the European hideouts have specialized instead in what may be described as the harvesting of profits from intangibles (such as logos, brand names, etc.), in which they encourage companies to relocate into specialized low-tax vehicles registered in their domains.
Since April 2009, when countries of the G20 held a summit in London and decreed the ‘end of banking secrecy’, the amount of money in Switzerland has increased by 18%. For all the world’s tax hideouts combined, the increase is even higher, close to 25%. And we are only talking about individuals here.
Corporations also use tax hideouts. Corporate filings show that US companies are shifting profits to Bermuda, Luxembourg and similar countries on a massive and growing scale. 55% of all the foreign profits of US firms are now kept in such hideouts. Since MNCs usually try to operate within the letter – if not the spirit – of the law, this profit shifting is better described as ‘tax avoidance’ rather than outright fraud. But its cost is enormous – $130billion a year for US firms alone – and since equity ownership is very concentrated, it essentially benefits only the wealthiest among us.
The hedgefund industry has discovered the delights of tax hideouts. According to some estimates the big 4 Caribbean hideouts – the Caymans Islands, British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Bahamas – are home to 52% of the world’s hedgefund industry. But these figures are disputed. The Cayman Financial Services Authority claims that 35% of the world’s hedgefund industry is located in its territory alone (Cayman Islands Monetary Authority figures as reported in GAO 2008), and some cite an improbably high figure of 80%. This unresolved debate is disconcerting: it shows how little we really know about the hedgefund industry.
On a global scale, 8% of the financial wealth of households is held in tax hideouts. According to the latest available information, in the spring of 2015 foreign wealth held in Switzerland reached $2.3trillion.
‘It would, however, be erroneous to conclude from the media coverage that politicians and businesspersons in advanced capitalist countries are paragons of virtue. Far from it. On the contrary, the one country that is responsible for overseeing the working of as many as 18 tax hideouts is England; these tax hideouts include the Isle of Man, Guernsey, British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, and Cayman Islands.’
… Not all tax hideouts are idyllic treasure islands; some are located within national jurisdictions of countries like the US (states like Delaware, Florida, Arizona) and in principalities and microstates of Europe (Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino). During the 2016 US presidential election campaign, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had refused to explain why they both had companies registered at the same address – 1209 North Orange, Delaware, using a loophole that reportedly cost other US state governments $9bn in lost taxes. Not surprisingly, many argue that the US is the world’s biggest tax hideout of the 90-odd tax hideouts across the globe.’
‘The Tax Free Tour, a documentary by Marije Meerman, begins by detailing the round-tripping of funds carried out by MNCs such as Apple. The figures are startling: Apple’s evasion of taxes, involves selling 20 million iPads a year for about $500 each (which comes to about $10billion) while paying Chinese labourers $800million to make them. Apple pays only 1.9% tax on its profits generated outside the US, and parks about $2.2bn of royalties offshore in tax hideouts. The routes are structured and have even acquired nicknames…’ according to Paranjoy Guja Thakurta’s Thin Dividing Line
‘Where do multinationals pay taxes & how much?’ Gaining insight from international tax experts, tax hideouts, the people who live there, and the routes along which tax is avoided globally, these routes go by resounding names like ‘Cayman Special’, ‘Double Irish’, ‘Dutch Sandwich’. A financial world operates in the shadows surrounded by a high level of secrecy. A place where sizeable capital streams travel the world at the speed of light and avoid paying tax. The Tax Free Tour is an economic thriller mapping the systemic risk for governments and citizens alike. Is this the price we have to pay for globalised capitalism? At the same time, the free online game Taxodus by Femke Herregraven is launched: the player can select the profile of a MNC and look for the global route to pay as little tax as possible. – youtube.com/watch?v=d4o13isDdfY
The statistics are certainly impressive. Some estimate there are 46-60 active tax hideouts in the world right now, home to an estimated 2 million international business companies (IBCs) – a term used to describe a bewildering array of corporate entities, most of which are extremely opaque, and 1000s (if not millions) of trusts, mutual funds, hedge funds, and captive insurance companies. About 50% of all international banking lending & 30% of the world’s stock of FDI are registered in these jurisdictions. Some very small islands are among the world’s largest financial centers: the Caymans, a small set of islands in the Caribbean and a British Overseas Territory, is the 5th-largest international financial center in the world. That list also contains the small British Crown jurisdictions of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man, as well as what we call intermediate hideouts, such as Switzerland, Luxembourg, Ireland, Singapore.
The World Bank claims to have grave concerns that the very high annual number of new legal entities in the USA, around 10 times more than in all 41 tax hideout jurisdictions combined, includes a large number of shell companies with hidden owners.
The G7 requested in 1996 that the OECD Secretariat counter the ‘distorting effects of harmful tax competition’. This activity led to the publication of Harmful Tax Competition: An Emerging Global Issue, and a campaign against the hideouts of non-member states (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1998). A second OECD report, Towards Global Tax Co-operation: Progress in Identifying & Eliminating Harmful Tax Practices, identified harmful tax regimes (in semiperiphery/periphery) and preferential tax regimes (located in the core). The dichotomy of this breakdown between core and periphery is a byproduct of the evaluation criteria used by the OECD. This fact combined with the notable absence of jurisdictions identified by other organisations as tax hideouts (i.e. Singapore) and served to increase the intensity of the debate. In addition to several reports on the progress of the program against tax competition, the OECD has formed a Global Forum on Taxation in an effort to be more inclusive and broaden its mandate to create global regulations. This global forum now includes non-OECD states in its deliberations, but the meetings of this and other OECD forums remain dominated by the issues and concerns of the core states.
The situation confronting the small jurisdictions was characterised by Ronald Sanders in 2002 as ‘fiscal colonialism’. In his view, the OECD harmful tax competition project was ‘nothing less than a determined attempt by the world’s wealthiest economies to bend powerless countries to their will’. Certainly, the emphasis on ‘good governance’ by core states is undoubtedly biased towards the needs of core-based global finance.
Altogether these investigations, initiatives and reports [against money laundering] coincided with deliberate attempts by core countries to remove anti-competitive “onshore financial distortions”. The intent is to 1) position onshore tax hideouts to attract flight capital escaping the poor economic policies of some Third World countries, and 2) blunt the comparative advantage offshore tax hideouts enjoy.
Together with transfer pricing and weak domestic tax administrations, capital flight makes it very difficult for peripheral states to secure local capital for investment and development.
Their concern here rests not with the efforts made by core states to interdict capital flight from the core, as represented by the OECD project on harmful tax competition. Rather it is with the essentially undemocratic way in which regulations are developed before emerging from these institutions to become global financial governance. This governance reproduces standards and procedures consistent with the domestic structures of core states, methods that challenge the capability and capacity of ‘semi-peripheral and peripheral’ states. These procedures are of far greater benefit to core imperialist states, their bankers, lawyers and core-based global accounting firms (Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Ernst & Young (EY), and Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler, KPMG), than they are to our countries. (For references used in this essay, please email ee)
C. News Index______________________________________________
• ee News Index provides headlines and links to gain a sense of the weekly focus of published English ‘business news’ mainly to expose the backwardness of a multinationally controlled ‘local media’:
(ee is pro-politics, pro-politician, pro-nation-state, anti-corporatist, anti-expert, anti-NGO)
ee Sovereignty news emphasizes sovereignty as economic sovereignty – a strong nation is built on modern industrialization fueled by a producer culture.
• Sri Lankan government fails to deploy Prevention of Terrorism Act & emergency regulations
‘The food hoarding fracas, and the State’s inability to control private sector mafias, should hence point us to … who’s really calling the shots and running the show’
• Trinco oil tanks not given to India; Gammanpila misleading country: Vijitha
• Has India any moral right to pressure Sri Lanka to abide by the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord
• Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane to visit SL to observe Mitra Shakthi
‘From October 3 to 17, the India-Sri Lanka bilateral joint Exercise will get underway with Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment (VIR) troops at the Combat Training School in Ampara’
• Indo-Lanka talks: Trinco issue, foreign reserve crisis on agenda
‘Why was the Minister tasked by Prez to settle the ‘oil tank farm’ problem not involved …’
• Gammanpila: Trinco oil tank farm handed over to India under Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987
• Gammanpila denies meeting Indian Foreign Secy. over Trinco Oil Tank Farm
• Indian Foreign Secretary at new Lanka IOC product launch in Trinco
• India’s National Investigation Agency arrests ex-LTTE member from Chennai for smuggling
• Indian Foreign Ministry Secretary visits Trincomalee Oil Tank Farms
‘Two Trincomallee oil tank farms operated by public sector Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), though not wholly yet, India is upset by periodic statements by some SL hosts about imminent repossession. New Delhi does not want the tanks to fall into wrong hands — China now as it was the US during the Cold War. …During his visit to Kandy and the upcountry, he will inaugurate the a 1 project to build 1250 houses for plantation families under India’s flagship Indian Housing Project in Sri Lanka to construct 50,000 houses with a total allocation of US$ 270 million in grants…4,000 houses are being constructed in the plantation regions of Central, Uva, Sabragamuwa and Southern Provinces of SL.’
• Shringla tells TNA to take its demands to Sri Lanka govt.
• Reflecting on the PTA and Amirthalingam
• Must look at weaknesses and strengths of 13A: President tells Shringla
• Unions challenge Minister to an open debate about the selling of the port
• Adani, JKH sign WCT deal amidst SLPA concerns
• India, Sri Lanka to conduct 12-day military exercise; focus on counter-terror ties
• LTTE involved in arms, drugs smuggling – Indian National Intelligence Agency
• Tiger By The Tail: When The LTTE Held Sway And Sri Lanka Was A Bloody Mess
• SLAF Chief phones new Indian Chief of Air Staff VR Chaudhari
‘An alumnus of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, he has served as a Directing Staff there. He has also served as Directing Staff at DSCSC in Zambia’
• Moragoda meets 12 Delhi-based Heads of Missions concurrently accredited to SL
‘Denmark, DPR Korea, Estonia, Kenya, Malawi, Malta, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Somalia, Tunisia and Zimbabwe attended’ma
• Trio of Japanese warships in SL
• German War Attachés on a working visit to Colombo
• Sri Lanka’s objection to Canada’s charge of genocide during past conflict
• Iran-Sri Lanka Relations
• War crimes allegations: SLAF Chief’s diplomatic appointment to Italy rejected again
• China’s Port Investments in Sri Lanka Reflect Competition with India in the Indian Ocean
• Reminiscing about Sino-Lanka ties on China’s National Day
‘My father also told me that ‘Sinhala’ is referred to in Chinese as Shenjayalo where Shen means ‘Sangha’
• The Politics, Economics and Technology of US Sanctions
‘the US uses sanctions as a political tool against a host of countries, using the SWIFT payment mechanism and the US control over it…’
• Christian missionaries oppress by bringing indigenous culture under monopoly of church
• With eyes on Taliban, US to reset Uzbek ties
‘agreement with US to transfer Afghan military pilots and their families to a US military base’
• England fires the first shot in the New Great Game
‘Simon Gass (concurrently chairman of Joint Intelligence Committee and formerly English ambassador to Iran) went to Kabul, with Martin Longden, the C’dA in the English Embassy’
• Taliban receives overtures from near and far
“The foreign minister of Qatar; the special envoys of Russia, China and Pakistan; the High Rep of England’s Prime Minister; and the foreign minister of Uzbekistan who visited Kabul on Thursday’
• Can the Myanmar Opposition Really Create a Viable Government — and a Formidable Army?
• China – Human Rights – Right to Life
• Biden-Xi Jinping summit is in the cards
‘US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan talks with Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi, Zurich’
• China Used Stolen Data to Expose CIA Operatives in Africa and Europe (2020)
• CIA Laments About Loss Of Spies In Russia And Elsewhere
• Imperialism and the Horn of Africa
• Shell Shocked in Amhara, Ethiopia: “I don’t even want to hear the word ‘America’ ”
• Mali’s junta negotiating mercenary contract with Wagner Group linked to Russian government
‘Mali is Africa’s third-largest gold producer, but its industry has suffered from jihadist attacks’
• Let Haiti Breathe – CORE Group Out of Haiti
• The dangers of depending on the Democratic Party to enact any meaningful change.
‘Democratic Party has been unwilling to oppose the Biden administration’s mass deportation of undocumented immigrants , privatization of Postal Service , and abandonment of police reform’
C2. Security (the state beyond ‘a pair of handcuffs’, monopolies of legitimate violence)
ee Security section focuses on the state (a pair of handcuffs, which sposedly has the monopoly of legitimate violence), and how the ‘national security’ doctrine is undermined by private interests, with no interest in divulging or fighting the real enemy, whose chief aim is to prevent an industrial renaissance as the basis of a truly independent nation.
• Powerful businessmen fleecing the public during COVID-19: Sobitha Thera
“The doctors who practise indigenous medicine too hold degrees from government funded universities. These establishments have been cash strapped for decades. Give these institutions money to conduct research and to develop indigenous medicine”
• Software engineer further remanded
‘arrested in connection with National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA)’s data loss…. fresh medicine suppliers are rejected from the tender process, and tenders are given to the medicine mafia who thereafter artificially create a shortage of medicines in the local market for price manipulation’
• Ideal Motors presents SL Police with two Mahindra Mojo motorcycles valued at Rs 2.4 million
• PCR lab built at cost of USD 5 mn at BIA idling!
‘The disruption of the BIA project occurred close on the heels of the Association of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes (APHNH) seeking an opportunity to partner the government’
• British American Tobacco London Headquarters Oversaw & Financed South African Spy Ring
• 225 Chief Inspectors promoted as ASPs
• Three Women SSPs promoted as DIGs
• Easter Sunday Attack Tragedy and Farce
• “New Zealand in talks with Sri Lanka on security cooperation to curb extremism”
• The Concocted Threat by Sunday Guardian Live about New Zealand cricket tour of Pakistan
‘This Indian media outlet is owned by MJ Akbar former Minister of State for External Affairs, an active member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.’– lankaweb.com/news/items/2021/10/02/the-concocted-threat/
• A case for overhauling SL’s judicial system
‘Over the past one year, five subcommittees and 23 advisory committees have been devising ways in which to reform laws and processes to make justice more digestible.’
• UN Resident Rep addresses Justice Ministry Consultative Committee
• Spotlight on Attorney General’s Department and Public Service Commission
• US Agency for International Development provided AV equipment to Ministry of Justice
• Lanka tells Secretariat on Ottawa Convention: Nearly 12,000 landmines destroyed by SLA
• “The Jaffna” and the Bird Aeroplanes
• War & Peace: The Corporate Power for profit
‘In short, political centralisation is invoked to promote corporate power’
• Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna will earn over $133bn in revenues by the end 2022 on vaccines
‘Yet none of them – nor indeed any other Western producer – will openly share their know-how so others can produce the vaccines we need. They thrive on the secrecy which boosts their profits.’
• Vaccine Access Gap Widens in Latin America and the Caribbean
‘After Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean is the region that has the lowest vaccination coverage’
• Africa’s COVID-19 Vaccine and the Scandal of the Centuries
‘African nations might have produced a patent free vaccine that would have benefitted the whole world. Instead they purchased patented vaccines which enriched pharmaceutical corporations outside of the continent.’
• Thousands of US Police Killings Are Unreported
C3. Economists (Study the Economists before you study the Economics)
ee Economists shows how paid capitalist/academic ‘professionals’ confuse (misdefinitions, etc) and divert (with false indices, etc) from the steps needed to achieve an industrial country.
• Debunking some ‘arrant nonsense’ about inflation – Illanperuma
• Loss-making state & private institutions can succeed on the solidarity principle – Vitarana
• A Wolf at the Door: Globalist Threat to Sri Lanka’s Poor – Wijetilleka
• The Krugman-linked economic policy discourse – Goonetileka
• Gazette issued giving Ministry of Finance more responsibilities
• Economic Sovereignty: Insights of Potentially Alarming Trends – Gunaruwan & Wickremeratne –
• Crisis, Class and Consumption – Ahilan Kadirigamar
‘SL foreign earnings have always come from the sweat and suffering of its working people, particularly working women. That is the tea-plucking women toiling in the estates, the young women exploited in the garment factories and the migrant workers – including domestic female and manual male workers subject to gruelling working conditions without labour rights – in the Middle East…
The irony of SL political economy is that while the working people earned the foreign exchange, the elite in this country spent it in luxurious imports; including fancy vehicles and fittings for their houses’
• World Bank forecasts clouded medium term outlook for SL
‘latest South Asia Economic Focus titled ‘Shifting Gears: Digitization and Services-led Development’, …Food insecurity could also worsen and poverty reduction could slow down if food prices remain elevated and shortages continue.’
• Controlling non-essential imports key to sound forex management – Weerakkody
• Mass deprivation of food, petrol, gas, medicines and bare necessities due to shortage of foreign currency and inappropriate policies – Sanderatne
• Success of export-oriented economies – Abeyratne
‘High-income OECD countries in the world had about 75 percent of the world exports in 1990. Today, about 30 years later, this export share has declined to little more than 50 percent.’
• Repatriation & surrender requirements: Has blame game infected Central Bank? – Wijewardena
‘exchange control was introduced to old Ceylon during World War II by the British rulers to prevent the country’s foreign exchange resources from falling into the hands of the enemies, namely, the Germans and the Japanese.’
• Central Bank’s Road Map lacks monetary policy framework, avoids IMF bailout – Colombage
• Decorative Consumption and Socio-Demographic Antecedents: Revelations from a study on wristwatches and houses among Colombo office workers –Karunanayake & Gunaruwan
• SL’s economic crisis: How did the country get here? – Thowfeeq
• Central Bank co-hosts CBSL-ADBI-APAEA Online Macroeconomics Conference
‘with the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) and the Asia-Pacific Applied Economics Association (APAEA), on Emerging Issues for Macroeconomic Stability…. Peter J. Morgan, Senior Consulting Economist and Vice Chair of Research of ADBI.’
• IPS to host webinar series with release of State of the Economy 2021
• US Echelon online forum with sovereign debt restructure specialist Lee Buchheit
‘Following multiple rating downgrades in a short time to CCC+ and high premiums Sri Lanka is now locked out of global markets…Buchheit retired after 43-years with Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.’
• Pathfinder-Daily FT ‘In Conversation’ webinar tomorrow with ex-IMF’s Anoop Singh
• Consumer Affairs Authority Act has the power to regulate – Advocata
• The Truth About Money – Howard Nicholas
‘The explosion of QE, the epic monetisation of debt, the rise of crypto-currencies, frothy stock markets and furlough schemes seem to imply we have an endless supply of money. But it also means that we now see money very differently’
• The Enigma of China’s Growth
‘One of the most widespread forms of so-called evidence is that the Chinese economy “emerged,” and its growth “took off,” after the reforms of the late 1970s, specifically those implemented after Chairman Mao Zedong’s death in 1976.’
• China at a turning point?
‘it is time for the Chinese government to make a turn back towards state investment and planning of housing, technology and public services and involve China’s highly educated industrial and urbanised workers in that planning.’
• Anti-China hysteria lies at heart of action against IMF’s Georgieva
• Progress and its discontents
‘After the global financial crisis in 2008…left a trail of destruction… Protest movements…swept through major cities… a backlash was building…billionaires, pundits and commentators began to rally around a new narrative. This doom and gloom is all wrong, they said: zoom out just a bit and take a moment to appreciate the fact that human progress is, in fact, accelerating…’
• How Michel Foucault Got Neoliberalism So Wrong
• MMT and Marxist monetary theory – a reply to Bill Mitchell by a man with no name
‘precisely because MMT ignores that very social structure, its pursuit of achieving full employment through the ‘tricks of circulation’ of money will fail’
• Policy and institutional bases of neoliberal project remain entirely intact
• World Bank: Is doing business (index) really dead?
‘Many progressive economists have railed against it because of its admittedly neoliberal bias. But the index also highlighted important shortcomings in many developing countries, where cronyism among big business and government, along with high bureaucratic costs, crush individual enterprise and cripple small businesses’
• Doing Business crisis: IMF Executive Board meets IMF MD
• Does Capitalism Make Us Crazy?
• “Sooner or Later We’ll Find an Alternative to Capitalism” – Galtung
• The buy-back binge: Motives and effects on corporate investment policies
‘to improve valuations and send strong signals about managements’ confidence in growth prospects of companies….major global companies such as Diageo PLC, Unilever PLC and BP PLC have incorporated share repurchases as a part of their distribution strategy’
C4. Economy (Usually reported in monetary terms)
ee Economy section shows how the economy is usually measured by false indices like GDP, etc, and in monetary terms, confusing money and capital, while calling for privatization and deregulation, their constant moaning about debt and balance of payments without stating the need for industrial production to overcome such issues, etc.
• Nivard sticks to his guns over quicker return of earnings by exporters
‘widespread rebuttal by leading private sector export lobbies including the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce-linked Exporters Association of Sri Lanka (EASL) and the Sri Lanka Association of Manufacturers and Exporters of Rubber Products (SLAMERP), and
several international banks overseas…’
• Sept. inflation eases on declining food prices but non-food prices accelerate
• First 9 months’ exports amounted to $ 8.8 billion
• Low-interest regime profits: Rs. 365 b for private sector; Rs. 331 b for public sector
‘the reduction in finance cost as a result of lower interest rates ensured by former Governor Prof. W.D. Lakshman played a part too’
• Value of the rupee against USD to remain stable in Q4 2021
• Sri Lanka importers forced to purchase black market dollars
• CB relaxes import controls, mandatory conversion of export proceeds
• SL elevated risk profile deters suppliers
• Central Bank to downsize weekly T-bill auction to below Rs.50bn
• Sri Lanka gets five proposals for foreign currency term loan
• Sri Lanka to optimize existing structure before new taxes: Jayasundera
• Basil’s 2022 Budget with wealth tax included to be presented on November 12
• Sri Lanka 2021 budget deficit hits trillion rupees by July, Rs549bn printed
• Sri Lanka Treasuries yields up across maturities, 3-month up 45bp
• Fitch hints at likely rise in Excise tax on alcobev industry in November budget
‘Distilleries Co. (DIST) controls over 70% of the country’s spirits market.… DIST and its parent Melstacorp PLC… has 51% of leisure sector’s Aitken Spence…’
• IMF tells Pakistan to impose Rs225b more in income taxes
‘The IMF also asked for expediting the work on privatisation of the power sector.’
C5. Workers (Inadequate Stats, Wasteful Transport, Unmodern Plantations, Services)
ee Workers attempts to correct the massive gaps and disinformation about workers, urban and rural and their representatives (trade unions, etc), and to highlight the need for organized worker power
• Trade Unions meet Ex-President on controversial LNG deal
• Sri Lanka teachers promise more protests on World Teachers’ Day if salary crisis not resolved
• Dinesh refuses to divulge details of teachers’ salary hikes
• If no solution to teacher- principal issue, waves of protests could add to COVID spread: GMOA
• Health workers demand a stop to political interference in transfers.
• GMOA to begin island wide token strike on Oct.13 over Annual Transfer List
• Ministerial Consultative Committee on Labour to present Employees’ Provident Fund (Amendment) Bill for second reading
• Jobless rate falls to 5.1% in 2Q; but shows signs of shrinking labour force
• Chartered Institute of Personnel Management focuses on ’Global crises and future of work’
‘President CIPM Sri Lanka Jayantha Amarasinghe, Senior Prof. Sampath Amaratunge, Chairman, University Grants Commission, Sri Lanka, Keynote Speaker, Dr. Aquil Busrai, CEO, Aquil Busrai Consulting, India, Prof.(Dr.) Prasadini Gamage and Indika Kaluarachchige participated in the event.’
• Private companies reintroduce discarded concept of minimum output to avoid paying Rs. 1,000.
‘64,000 hectares of tea land owned run by Tata, one of India’s leading enterprises,have been taken back by the Kerala Government and handed over to the workers’
• Planters’ Association calls for impartial probe over trade union violence in Talawakelle Estate
• Ganesan condemns attack on estate officials, but says workers do such acts in sheer frustration
• 45,000 engaged in electrical profession; 95% lack adequate qualification: PUCSL
• Importing Technology critical to transform education sector: UNDP Seminar
• South Asia immigration barriers hindering industrial hub potential
‘region’s labour force is primarily made up of youth, only about half of these young people are actively engaged in industry’
• Ruling on two Sri Lankans’ deportation from Japan found to be unconstitutional
• India’s National Investigation Agency names six from TN for trafficking Sri Lankans
• Sri Lankan found dead near Belarus-Lithuania border
• Implementing a mobile application ‘SL- Remit’ to facilitate foreign remittances
• Sri Lanka’s elderly population is on the rise compared to the rest of the world
• Chinese builders in Sri Lanka pledge patriotism on China’s National Day
‘the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway (CKE), the first-ever highway in the country was the project where Sri Lanka adopted Chinese standards for highway construction for the first time’
• English Government’s Chevening Scholarships in Sri Lanka open until 2 November 2021
• US Sheriff Deputies Settle Schoolyard Disputes and Black Teens Bear the Brunt
• Teachers and Education Beyond Symbolism: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
• GM Silao Workers in Mexico Reject Protection Contract
C6. Agriculture (Robbery of rural home market; Machines, if used, mainly imported)
ee Agriculture emphasizes the failure to industrialize on an agriculture that keeps the cultivator impoverished under moneylender and merchant, and the need to protect the rural home market. Also, importation of agricultural machinery, lack of rural monetization and commercialization, etc.
• Rising price of rice in Sri Lanka: Roots and remedies
• Managing modern irrigation projects in Lanka to achieve self-sufficiency
‘Unfortunately, most of those village tanks were excluded from modern systems developed during the last century. It was a serious design error’
• Permanent solution to perennial potable water shortage facing people of North
• ‘No use of CAA, shut it down to save money,’ – Former Consumer Affairs Chief
• “Members on CAA Board have lesser qualifications than my driver” – Gunawardena
• Cartel power of Polonnaruwa rice millers override governmental power
• Sri Lanka Minister apologizes for creating shortages, gives up on price controls
• What can be done about rising prices?
‘There are two principal ways to constrain the market power of the likes of Araliya and Nipuna-Menaka-Hiru. One is to empower the small rice millers. The other solution is to import rice to discipline the cartel’
• How to End Sri Lanka’s Food Crisis – Harvard Business School
‘Ignoring economists and committing human rights violations come at a high cost for the economy.’
• Stringent rules to control pesticide imports amidst smuggling
• Renaissance Sri Lanka, Monlar and Greenfem webinar series on organic farming
• Top 15 best organic fertilizers with their NPK value
• Renaissance SL, MONLAR & Greenfem launch webinar on building local organic farming
‘After WW II, a ‘green revolution’ was launched globally to increase food production to meet the population’s requirements. The traditional Asian farming methods were transformed into an advanced, scientific agricultural system by the 1960s. Hybrid seeds that produce high yields were introduced, but they highly depended on agrochemicals, resulting in a threat to the people, animals and environment.’
• Oil Palm Cultivation: Where Are We?
‘Sri Lanka also imports palm oil and related products from Malaysia, as we only produce just 17% of the vegetable oils required. We are forced to fulfill the remaining 83% through imports. In 2019, the country had to spend about 37 billion rupees for importing vegetable oils and fats which was in fact higher than the amount spent over importing chemical fertilizers required for the whole country.’
• Plantation industry believes govt. will change course on fertiliser
• SJB challenges chemical fertiliser import ban in SC with FR petition
• Sri Lanka ‘organic’ tea prices may have to rise 75-pct to offset hit from fertilizer ban
• Issues thrown up by detection of harmful bacteria in imported organic fertilizer –Balachandran
• Cabinet nod for milk powder price hike
• Shift to liquid milk amid milk powder shortage to benefit local dairy producers
‘Lanka Milk Foods PLC (LMF) suspended imports due to the increase in controlled price according to Nation Lanka Equities (Pvt) Limited, a stock brokerage. LMF owns Lakspray and Ambewela
Imports account for 60 percent of the annual milk demand. Harry Jayawardena controlled Milford Exports (Ceylon) Private Limited held 33.57 percent in LMF by June 30, 2021 being its largest shareholder.
• Garlic scam: Trade Minister Bandula says Govt. must exonerate him
• Hambantota Special EPZ to promote coconut-based agro-ecosystem
• SL spends US$ 9 million a year to import medicinal plants from India: Env. Minister
• First-ever study to gauge the carbon footprint from energy use in tea production
‘This research had been funded by the National Research Council and the University of Colombo.’
• Uswatte Confectionery: Asia’s first ever multi-grain nutritional cracker with 9 grains
• The Elephant in Sri Lanka Parts 5-14
• Tycoons backed by pettifoggers eyeing Wattegama-Kebilitta forest for corn cultivation
• Concerns raised over ivory poaching in Sri Lanka
• INSEE Cements New Mangrove Restoration Project
• A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka
• Study supports theory that dragonflies migrate across the Indian Ocean
• Of Indigenous Peoples, Environmentalism, and Atonement
‘’Much of the western USA is federal public land, but all of the USA was once Indigenous land’
• Indigenous knowledge and the persistence of the ‘wilderness’ myth
‘many iconic “wilderness” landscapes – such as the Amazon, forests of Southeast Asia and the western deserts of Australia, are actually the product of long-term management and maintenance’
C7. Industry (False definitions, anti-industrial sermons, rentier/entrepreneur, etc)
ee Industry notes the ignorance about industrialization (versus handicraft and manufacture), the dependence on importing foreign machinery, the need to make machines that make machines, build a producer culture. False definitions of industry, entrepreneur, etc, abound, and the need for a holistic political, economic and military strategy to overcome the domination by merchants and moneylenders.
• COPE examines highway robberies at SLTB in 2018
‘Rs. 89 million in excess of funds allocated for purchase of computers in 2018’
• VAT levied on coal imported causes Rs 125 million loss to govt
• Swiss Nestlé’s Bandula Egodage re-appointed Chamber’s Industrial Association Chair 21/22
‘Sanjev Perera of Vision Fund Lanka was re-elected Senior Vice Chairman and Brahaman Balaratnarajah of Haycarb PLC as Vice Chairman…Executive Committee: Safraz Careem, Alpha Industries; Lasantha Wijeweera, Associated Motorways; Daham Gamage, Ceylon Biscuits; Sudesh Peter, Ceylon Tobacco; Pushpika Janadheera, Dipped Products; Mohamed Riyaz, Expack Corrugated Cartons; Wasantha Ariyathilake, Hettigoda Industries; Upul Gunasekera, Litro Gas Lanka; Nishantha Deetiratne, Polypak Secco; Palitha Piyanandana, PGP Glass Ceylon; Kamantha Cooray, Richard Pieris & CoKelum Kospelawatte, Singer Industries; Chulodhara Samarasinghe, The Swadeshi Industrial Works, Shiran Jansz, The Lion Brewery; and Harini Rajadasa…’
• USA’s Chevron & National Transport Commission provide relief for 17,000 private bus owners
‘Chevron is the leading marketer of Caltex, Havoline, Delo and Lanka branded lubricants in Sri Lanka, providing engine oils including passenger car oils, motorcycle and scooter oils, etc.’
• USA to support develop local transport sector
‘Chief Political/Economic Officer of the US Embassy, Susan Walke met Transport Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi…US Embassy Commercial Attaché Luis Salas an Private Secretary to the Transport Minister, Kanchana Jayaratne’
• New Fortress Energy, Sri Lanka, and Planet Earth
‘The signing apparently took place in the dead of the night, at 12.06 a.m., and the foreigner who came for the signing swiftly returned to the US on a flight at 2 a.m.’
• Petroleum Resources Bill passed in Parliament
• Cabinet approval to be sought on ‘Fuel Price Stabilisation Fund’ again: Gammanpila
• LP gas crisis may aggravate from November onwards: Lobbyists
• Pro-Litro activists urge buyout or lease of LAUGFS storage facility over JV
• US energy company NFE unilaterally announces sole-sourced deal
• LNG Scam
• Energy Minister warns New Fortress deal could impede SL prospects in gas & oil production
• CEB in crisis due to unpaid bills amounting to Rs 400 mn during pandemic
• HC Moragoda meets Indian Petroleum Minister
• High Commissioner Moragoda calls on Indian National Security Advisor
• Lanka turns to China to buy oil on credit basis
• Sri Lanka rejects Oman land-for- interest request in US$3.6bn oil supplier’s credit: Minister
• Oil steady ahead of OPEC+ supply policy meeting
• President says no coal, but CEA exploits loopholes to approve king coal project
• Litro-LAUGFS combined Siyolit in limbo
‘’Litro unions have been resisting the creation of the new entity saying it was a ploy to “rescue” the debt-ridden LAUGFS, and that this will have a negative impact on the State-owned entity.’
• Cabinet green light to establish a CPC subsidiary for LP gas production
• Gas monopoly terminated
• Transshipment volumes at Colombo Port decline for second straight month in Aug.
• ADB: Southern Expressway best in South Asia
• Industrialist wants BOI rules relaxed to save foreign exchange outflows
‘companies operating in Export Processing Zones should sell in the local market’
• Access Engineering backs pioneering research on fibre optic monitoring technology
‘Partners University of Moratuwa with support from Cambridge and Oxford University’
• India’s HCL Technologies’ Lankan investment to get tax concessions
‘HCL is also the anchor tenant of a large real estate project in Sri Lanka’
• Each year, the apparel industry imports around $1.8 billion worth of fabric,
• Eravur Fabric Park could transform sustainable textile manufacture in Sri Lanka
‘Sri Lanka has approximately 300 apparel manufacturing facilities across the country. By contrast, it has only 7 textile and raw material factories capable of producing fabric for export, and for conversion into garments for export. At its peak, Sri Lanka imported over 250,000 MT of fabric both for export-oriented apparel manufacturing and for local consumption in 2019, at a cost of US $ 2.2 billion.’
• US-Korea donates $500,000 worth of PCR test kits and PCR test machines to Sri Lanka
• UNDP signs MoU with Kaduwela MC to expand incineration capacity to tackle hospital waste
• US$150 million of vaccines from ADB’s Trade and Supply Chain Finance Program (TSCFP).
• ADB approves USD 110 mn loan in additional financing to improve primary health care (PHC)
• ADB to promote Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.
• Most World Bank-funded projects in e-Government sphere fail
‘the World Bank remained the largest multilateral financier to Sri Lanka with US$ 134.4 million in loans being disbursed in the first four months… into projects related to roads, water supply and sanitation, ground transport, power and energy and disaster management’
• Access projects –a 20-year journey of innovating & pioneering aluminium doors, windows & facades industry
• DIMO TECH facilitates industrialists with free technical inspections
‘handling world-renowned engineering brands such as MTU, Detroit Diesel and John Deere’
• ‘Gamata Sannivedanaya’ to go nationwide to offer high speed internet
• EU-SL 5th Working Group on Governance, Rule of Law & Human Rights concludes talks
• USA Confronts Japan: How U.S. Big Tech Nationalism Spawned a “Global Electronic Kraken”
‘It was the 1980s. A resurgent Japan was colonizing one civilian market after another through sheer diligence and ingenuity.’
• English Military Distribute Petrol
‘Rishi Sunak: supply chain crisis could lead to higher productivity’
C8. Finance (Making money from money, banks, lack of investment in modernity)
ee Finance tracks the effects of financialization, the curious role of ratings agencies, false indices, etc., and the rule of moneylenders.
• CBSL expands debt moratorium extension for leasing, finance companies customers
• Citi Bank remains credit neutral on SL despite CB short-term Road Map
• Eyon Lanka Finance plays out Rs. 10 b from depositors
• Private sector credit growth at desired levels despite policy tightening: First Capital Research
‘licensed commercial banks expanded their total outstanding private sector credit by Rs.76.6 billion in the month… In the first 7 months, such credit on a cumulative basis grew by Rs.491 billion, surpassing total private sector credit of Rs.374.1 billion in the whole of 2020 and Rs.235.5 billion extended in 2019, reflecting key economic health gauge’
• CB mulls revival of six failed finance companies
• Finance company deposit rate ceiling up on rising T-bill rates
• Bandula Egodage appointed to Commercial Credit and Finance Board
‘He also serves Nestlé Lanka, Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology Lanka, Ceyline Holdings, SL Coconut Research Institute, Sri Lanka Maldives Business Council, Industrial Association, SAARC and Swiss Business Circle. B.G. Investments controls 50% and Group Lease Holdings owns 30% stake…Board of Directors: Chairman E.D.P. Soosaipillai, Managing Director R.S. Egodage, G.R. Egodage, K.D.V. Weele, P.T. Fisher, Rajiv C. Chitty, Lasantha Wickramasinghe, T.M.L. Paktsun, Gillian A.M. Edwards, Dr. Rajan Sarawanamuthu, and Bandula Egodage.’
• Commercial Leasing and Finance together with tile sector keeps CSE ticking
• People Merchant Finance taps shareholder funds again to meet regulatory capital
‘with the abundant support of Sterling Capital Investments (SCIL)… PMF’s main focus is to meet the core capital requirements of Rs.2.5 billion due in December 2021… a profit before income tax and tax on financial services of Rs.100 million for year ended 2020/21, after a span of 8 years.’
• Empowered by over Rs. 3 b capital, SMB Leasing gears for higher growth
‘the provision of finance leasing, pawning and loan facilities’
• ComBank expands ‘Dirishakthi’ scheme to transform value chains in rural Sri Lanka
• Sri Lanka looking to adopt policy on blockchain technology, digital banking, crypto mining
‘Crypto Currency Mining Companies Welcome to Invest in Sri Lanka’
• The Charade of a ‘Bad’ Bank
‘entire exercise seems to be motivated by the desire to clean up the balance sheets of public sector banks so that these are dressed up for sale to private entities’
• Heat on the SEC to Investigate Fed Officials for Insider Trading
• US Fed Scandal Includes Two Wall Street Banks It Supervises: Goldman Sachs & Citigroup
• “Culture of Corruption” at the US Fed
• Gallup poll shows that Big Business ranks even lower than banks and technology companies
• Chief U.S. Citgroup Equity Strategist Death Investigated as Homicide
• Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan Was Gathering His Own Market Intelligence
C9. Business (Rentierism: money via imports, real-estate, tourism, insurance, fear, privatization)
ee Business aka ee Rentier focuses on diversions of the oligarchy, the domination by a merchant mafia, making money from unproductive land sales, tourism, insurance, advertising, etc. – the charade of press releases disguised as ‘news’
• WTO still refuses to allow vaccine production
‘The WTO’s 12th ministerial conference is to be held in Geneva from 30 November to 3 December’
• USAID’s Sri Lanka@100’s Knowledge Sharing Webinar
• Ever Ace world’s largest container ship sails for Malaysia after docking 24 hrs at Colombo Port
‘Hemas Group CEO Kasturi Chellaraja, ship’s captain and other dignitaries pose in front of Ever Ace’
• CBSL to write off Rs. 15 b in accrued interest of COVID-hit businesses
• CIA behind leak of Pandora Papers, given curious lack of focus on US nationals?
‘BBC, Guardian and Washington Post…reveal…”
• AKD reveals how Water Project funds ended up in Nadesan’s accounts
• Lasitha Gunaratne appointed to Automobile Association of Ceylon
• ‘Yudy’ Kanagasabai named new Chairman at Dankotuwa Porcelain
‘He serves Ceylon Tobacco Co, Eswaran Brothers Exports and Millennium IT ESP, and Director of Cargills Ceylon, Hunter & Company and Lanka Canneries, Cargills Food Co, Cargills., and South Asia Textiles Ltd. He was the Chairman of the Audit Committee of Union Bank, and a Commissioner of the Insurance Regulatory Commission…Senior Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sri Lanka and Maldives… Board of Dankotuwa Porcelain comprises of Yudy Kanagasabai as Chairman, M. Boyagoda, S.E. Gardiner, P.P. Maddumage, R.T. Devasurendra, R.P. Peiris, N.S. Wijesekera and C.S. Karunasena (alternate to Maddumage).
• Hayleys’ planned asset sale at Singer could deliver about Rs.10bn in proceeds
‘Hayleys PLC is one of the most diversified companies in Sri Lanka, which has interests in 12 sectors and generates close to 90 percent of its operating income from dividends from its group entities.’
• E B Creasy Declares 60% Dividend for 2021! Pays out Rs 253.5Mn
• Ex-Pack, wholly-owned subsidiary of Aberdeen Holdings, previously Expolanka Investments
‘Managed by joint investment bankers, Capital Alliance and Asia Securities’
• Sri Lanka’s Lion Brewery ‘AAA(lka) rating confirmed by Fitch, tax hike expected
• Kia Motors (Lanka) appoints COO Andrew Perera as Managing Director
‘He serves automobile importers as an Executive Committee Member of the Ceylon Motor Traders Association (CMTA) affiliated with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce…was at IWS Holdings and MAS Holdings’
• Condominium market loses steam in 2Q
• Additional state land allocated for commercialisation of Lotus Tower
• China’s property sector default woes deepen amid Evergrande disquiet
• US Red Scare Attacks on head the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
‘the federal regulator of national banks…’
• PSU Privatisation: After 68 Years, Air India Sold Back to Tatas
• Unpacking the Pandora Papers Revelations
‘exploiting loopholes in our tax laws, park their money and buy assets in tax sanctuaries’
C10. Politics (Anti-parliament discourse, unelected constitution)
ee Politics points to the constant media diversions and the mercantile and financial forces behind the political actors, of policy taken over by private interests minus public oversight.
• Only executive presidency can control parliament, judiciary & bureaucracy
• President Premadasa’s genius for getting things done
• Dedicated public officer, true patriot, friend of downtrodden, Susil Sirivardana
• The Rajapaksa Legacy – Then and Now – Anila Dias Bandaranaike
‘they were exciting times with Sir Ponnabalam Arunachalam leading us, how his speeches attracted big crowds …. Then he said how it was sad the way our people let him down, not giving him a place in the Reformed Legislative Council of 1920. That was the beginning of our present ethnic troubles…’
• Speaking Truth to Power: Complementary Roles of Qadri and Rajani
• Rishad’s fall from Rajapaksa grace – Jeyaraj
• Regime’s Religious Far-Right Vs. the Church Militant – Jayatilleka
‘Martyrdom is part of the genetic code of Catholics; who unlike jihadists, will not kill for their cause but will die for it. ‘
• Shringla’s scan, GR’s gambit – Jayatilleka
‘the Tamil parties need the endorsement of a state to offset aggressive asymmetry, but not even the USA will take a stand unilaterally on the Tamil question, and will always defer to India’
• Ranil Wickremesinghe re-enters Parliament as an MP
• Jeevan Thiagarajah appointed as new Northern Province Governor
• Norwegian Tamil MP Swam Lake to Escape Shooter
• Chinese Democracy (Part I): How Chinese democracy is like ancient Greece
• Proclamation by Jean Jacques Dessalines, the first leader of a free Haiti
• German Election: Losses for Establishment Parties, Defeat for Die Linke
‘75% of the electorate will not have voted for the leading party in the next government… in many parts of eastern Germany the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) has surpassed the CDU and has even become the strongest party…’
• Left/Right in Context: Historicizing Bourgeois Eternity
‘The left/right baggage of capitalist society is worse than useless to the proletariat, for it denies its very existence and historical purpose, submerging its real social conflicts into the class-neutral terrain of bourgeois politics.’
• Pinker’s Pollyannish Philosophy and Its Perfidious Politics
‘Pinker apparently wants us over here in “the West” to adopt an Islamic State–level commitment to our “values,” which he then equates with “classical liberalism”’
C11. Media (Mis/Coverage of economics, technology, science and art)
ee Media shows how corporate media monopoly determines what is news, art, culture, etc. The media is part of the public relations (corporate propaganda) industry. The failure to highlight our priorities, the need to read between the lines. To set new perspectives and priorities.
• Editors Guild condemns CID for hounding editors
• Data Protection Bill receives Cabinet nod
• Indigenous marketing in Sri Lanka
• The musings of ‘Kothu’ as National brand
• A Literary appreciation of the “Commando Regiment”
• Beautification of Colombo: A negative move
• Gemunu Silva: “The best engineers were the ‘baases’”
• Sri Lankan Prehistorian Dr. Siran Deraniyagala passes
‘In 1968 Deraniyagala discovered ancient human burials in the Fa Hien Cave’
• Lalitha. K. Witanachchi, veteran teacher, talented journalist, award winning author
• The Buddhist Youth Magazine (1969)
• The Yohani phenomenon has opened a window on the little known Sinhala and the Sinhalese
• World of Prasanna Vithanage
• Pablo Neruda’s Life as a Struggling Poet in Sri Lanka
• Welsh through Sri Lankans’ eyes
• Facebook’s role in Myanmar and Ethiopia under new scrutiny
‘“What we saw in Myanmar and are now seeing in Ethiopia are only the opening chapters of a story so terrifying, no one wants to read the end of it,” Haugen said’
• Singapore passes controversial law to counter foreign interference
‘Nations such as Australia and Russia have in recent years passed laws to deter foreign interference.’
• How The ‘China is a Threat’ Fake News Cycle Works
‘’ Some ‘officials’ make some (false) claims. Some scribe writes those down in a dramatic tone. Other scribes then copy and rewrite the ‘exclusive’ without ever checking its validity.’
• ‘An Ugly Truth’ Lays Bare Facebook’s Murky Business Practices
• Will English National Union of Journalists act over Murray’s ‘first in world’ prison sentence