Mar 1, 2011

Mubarak, Gaddafi and western bankers

There is an interesting piece of exchange in the Bond movie "World is not enough" which most people miss out, focussed on the girls and excitement and violence...

'Swiss banker':  I am just trying to return the money to its rightful owner
Bond: And we know how hard that is for a Swiss banker

Let us consider these snippets:
  • Financial Times reports that UK has frozen about $1.5 billion of Gaddafi funds with more to come and says some estimates suggest it could be 20 billion pounds!
  • And the Swiss freeze Mubarak's assets - several dozens of millions of francs to quote WSJ.
And we all know of Benazir Bhutto/Zardari and other corrupt South Asian politicians holding vast sums in western banks..

Why do these countries allow such investments and deposits in in the first place? After all if it is some unknown Patel or Shah or Mohammad they can pretend not to know (that is not true, it is just 'look the other way' but then that is a story for another day)about possible tax evasion and immoral earnings, but it should be plain as daylight in high profile cases?

And why do they bend over backwards to handover lists of clients to Uncle Sam, violating every principle of secrecy and confidentiality they swear to, when it is not even claimed with evidence, let alone proved, that all the folks in the list are tax evaders,  but hem and haw and quote legal and moral principles (as if they have any) when a poor or weak country asks for well known criminals' and politicians' (I am repeating myself here) records?

The rightful owners of these funds are the people of the countries that have been looted and plundered.

It should be returned to them.

As Bond quips, why is it so hard for a Swiss (or UK) banker to do this?

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