How Britain can help you get away with stealing millions: a five-step guide (posted by Comsure in 6 postings 2/6)
Dirty money needs laundering if it’s to be of any use – and the UK is the best place in the world to do it. = part 2
<To read part 1: "Dirty money needs laundering if it’s to be of any use – and the UK is the best place in the world to do it" please click here>
Step 1: Forget what you think you know
If you have ambitions to steal a lot of money, forget about using cash. Cash is cumbersome, risky and highly limiting. Even if Danske Bank had used the highest denomination banknotes available to it, that €200bn would have weighed 400 tonnes, an amount four times heavier than a blue whale. Just moving it would have been a serious logistical challenge, let alone hiding it. It would have been a magnet for thieves, and would have attracted some unwelcome questions at customs.
If you want to commit significant financial crime, therefore, you need a bank account, because electronic cash weighs nothing, no matter how much of it there is. But that causes a new problem: the bank account will have your name on it, which will alert the authorities to your identity if they come looking.
This is where shell companies come in. Without a company, you have to act in person, which means your involvement is obvious and overt: the bank account is in your name. But using a company to own that bank account is like robbing a house with gloves on – it leaves no fingerprints, as long as the company’s ownership information is hidden from the authorities. This is why all sensible crooks do it.
The next question is what jurisdiction you will choose to register your shell company in. If you Google “offshore finance”, you’ll see photos of tropical islands with palm trees, white sands and turquoise waters. These represent the kind of jurisdictions – “sunny places for shady people” – where we expect to find shell companies. For decades, places such as Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar and others sold the companies that people hide behind when committing their crimes. But in recent years, the world has changed – those jurisdictions have been cajoled, bullied and persuaded to keep good records of company ownership, and to reveal those records when police officers come looking. They are no longer as useful as they used to be.
So where is? This is where the UK comes in. When it comes to financial crime, Britain is your best friend.
Here is the secret you need to know to get started in the shell company game: the British company registration system contains a giant loophole – the kind of loophole you can drive a billion euros through without touching the sides. That is why UK shell companies have enabled financial crime all over the world, from giant acts of kleptocratic plunder to sad and squalid frauds that rob pensioners of their retirement savings.
So, step one: forget what you think you know about offshore finance. The true image associated with “shell companies” these days should not be an exotic island redolent of the sound of the sea and the smell of rum cocktails, but a damp-stained office block in an unfashionable London suburb, or a nondescript street in a northern city. If you want to set up in the money-laundering business, you don’t need to move to the Caribbean: you’d be far better off doing it from the comfort of your own home.