February 26, 2014
Pop quiz: When really nasty criminals and dictators want to hide their illicit gains, which country do they go to?
I’ll make this easy for you– multiple choice:
b) British Virgin Islands
c) Hong Kong
With all the drama, history, and stigma surrounding Switzerland, most people would choose (A).
Yet over the last few years, Switzerland has worked hard to shed this reputation, even going so far as to propose laws making it easier for them to freeze dictators’ funds.
But in reality, the correct answer to the question is (D), none of the above. It’s the United States of America.
Despite being at the forefront for every other country in the world to eradicate banking privacy, the US government has hardly done a thing about the huge cracks in its own banking system… at least when it comes to foreigners.
Many states ranging from Delaware to New Mexico boast corporate entities that can be completely private, especially for foreign shareholders.
Not to mention, attorney-client privilege laws in the US mean that a lawyer can be inserted between a foreigner and their Delaware bank account, making the funds virtually untraceable back to the original shareholder overseas.
Last– the US banking system is so large with hundreds of billions of dollars of inflows and outflows, it’s quite easy for several hundred million to slip right past the radar.
So if you’re a villainous dictator who has plundered your citizens’ wealth, you’d be a fool to stash that cash away in Switzerland. Wall Street banks are waiting with open arms, and Saul Goodman is just a phone call away.
None of this, by the way, is any wild conspiracy theory. It’s all fact… validated by the US government itself.
You see, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an agency of the US Treasury Department, sent out a rather frantic email blast to banks across the United States yesterday about former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Mr. Yanukovych recently fled his home country and is on the run from mass murder charges. And as you can imagine, he has spent years plundering the wealth of Ukraine.
FinCEN recognizes that Yanukovych has substantial assets stashed away in the Land of the Free… and they’re keen to avoid yet another embarrasing public scandal in which the US banking system is caught financing a fugitive dictator.
So their email yesterday was a not-so-subtle suggestion to banks across the country that they should sound the alarm bells with respect to “suspicious movements of assets related to Viktor Yanukovych. . . and other senior officials resigning from their positions or departing Kyiv.”
It certainly begs the question– why would FinCEN send out such an admonishment to US banks?
Simple. Because while ordinary citizens are treated like dairy cows and medieval serfs, FinCEN knows that the United States is the #1 financial safe haven in the world for foreign criminals and dictators.