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Wildy's Book of the Month: January 2014
There is a common perception by developed countries, such as members of the OECD, that individuals and corporations utilising offshore services are hiding behind a wall of secrecy that facilitates tax avoidance, money laundering and the financing of terrorism and that large amounts of funds by citizens and residents of developed economies are stashed away in offshore bank accounts, and that there is a great need for more transparency respecting all offshore operations.
The various offshore services that provide a degree of secrecy or a high level of confidentiality through the use of corporations, trusts, foundations and banks, and the use of such services for diverse legal reasons, on the one hand, and the onshore need for more transparency on the other hand, has set up a conflict between these legitimate interests.
Already the enactment by developed countries of laws to combat money laundering, the financing of terrorism and other criminal activities has marked the beginning in the piercing of the so-called wall of secrecy that is a common feature of virtually all Offshore Financial Centres. Most OFC’s have opened their secrecy provisions, particularly where fraud, criminal or tax evasion activities are established.
This publication examines the conflicts between secrecy and transparency, and it should serve as a useful tool for onshore individuals and corporations, plus their advisors and service providers, in their consideration of using offshore corporations, trusts, foundations or banks, and in understanding the current legal and regulatory environment that governs such offshore entities. It should also enhance the considerations that should be made in selecting an appropriate offshore jurisdiction.