Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson, 2011, Excerpts
Along with Britain and Europe, the United States anchors the third big offshore pole. At the federal level, on the top tier, the United States dangles a range of special tax exemptions, secrecy provisions, and laws designed to attract foreign money in true offshore style. U.S. banks may, for instance, legally accept proceeds from a range of crime - such as handling stolen property – as long as the crimes are committed overseas. Special arrangements are made with banks to make sure they do not reveal the identities of foreigners parking their money in the United States.
The next tier involves individual U.S. states. Florida’s banks have a long history of harboring mob money, often in complex partnerships with the nearby British Caribbean havens. Other U.S. states like Wyoming, Delaware, and Nevada have specialists in offering low-cost and very strong forms of almost unregulated corporate secrecy, which has attracted illicit money, and even terrorist money, from around the globe.
The third U.S. offshore rung is the U.S. Virgin Islands, a minor haven used by Bank of America, Boeing, FedEx, and Wachovia, among others. The Marshall Islands provides the anything goes, unregulated flag, among many others, the Deepwater Horizon, the BP-operated rig that caused environmental chaos off the U.S Gulf Coast in 2010.
The biggest tax haven in the U.S. zone of influence is Panama. The country is filled with dishonest lawyers, dishonest bankers, dishonest company formation agents and dishonest companies. The Free Trade Zone is the black hole through which Panama has become one of the filthiest money laundering sinks in the world.
The U.S. government and many others have allowed tax havens to proliferate because the elites who use them are the world’s most powerful lobbyists. Nearly every multinational corporation uses tax havens, and their largest users – by far – are on Wall Street.