Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson, 2011, Excerpts
The world tax havens can be divided roughly into four groups: a set of continental European havens, a British zone of influence centered in the City of London and parts of Britain’s former empire, a zone of influence focused on the United States, and a fourth category holding unclassified oddities like Somalia and Uruguay.
Each jurisdiction offers one or more offshore specialties. Each attracts particular kinds of financial capital, and each develops a particular infrastructure of skilled lawyers, accountants, bankers, and corporate officers to cater to their specific needs.
The drug smugglers, terrorists, and other criminals use exactly the same offshore mechanisms and subterfuges – shell banks, trusts, dummy corporations, and so on – that corporations use. Offshore connects the criminal underworld with financial elites and binds them together with multinational corporations and the diplomatic and intelligence establishments. Offshore drives conflict, shapes our perceptions, creates financial instability, and delivers staggering rewards to les grands, the people who matter. Offshore is how the world of power now works.