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Attacks by the “onshore” powers against “offshore” centres are not new. Almost fifteen years ago now, some predicted their demise with the introduction of compulsory anti-money laundering procedures and regulation . The OECD launched its campaign against “harmful tax” . Proclaiming the goal of a “level playing field”, it pitted the offshore centres against each other, whilst overlooking that within its own membership there continue thriving examples of two-tier tax systems (UK)and where customer due diligence does not meet international standards (US). The offshore centres countered that they are legitimate financial centres, providing competitive services to international commerce.
In the private client context, we contended there was no argument against the need for customer due diligence and protecting against the proceeds of crime including tax evasion. Further, offshore centres provide real values for the international private client: stability, confidentiality, freedom of testamentary provision, flexible and innovative trust and company law. This proved to be correct, with unprecedented growth in the offshore centres in the last decade in numerous sectors including the funds industry (Cayman), insurance (Bermuda) and corporate vehicles (BVI).
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