Prosecution of Wegelin & Co. is good for the offshore world

If the U. S. Government’s allegations against Switzerland’s oldest private bank, Wegelin & Co., are true, i.e. that the bank actively encouraged and helped U. S. taxpayers conceal their assets from the IRS and, it would be logical to assume, their other creditors and victims, the bank represents the worst of the offshore world and it would be convincing evidence that the bank’s managers at the time of the conduct were talentless morons.

I use the phrase ‘talentless morons’ deliberately and carefully. After all, any idiot can make money by engaging in illegal conduct. All it takes is a willingness to lie and deceive and a lack or absence of empathy for victims, whether they be those killed in the holocaust, old people defrauded in get-rich-quick schemes or a government (yes, even them; after all, when you cheat a government, you cheat each and every person who pays any and all taxes they owe, including me).

There are few things more annoying to me than a half-wit banker, regulator, politician, auditor, or other service provider living in an expensive home, driving a luxury car, and generally being obscenely materialistic, thinking they are h@t s@@t simply because they grubbed the proceeds of crime by providing services to criminals.

When OffshoreAlert was launched in February, 1997, the offshore world had more than its fair share of wealthy idiots, who, in their capacities as regulators, politicians, bankers, or other service providers, were making bucket loads of money by offering nothing more than a willingness to be dishonest on behalf of their foreign clients. I have nothing but contempt for these people because, over the last 15 years, I have seen the human misery to which they significantly contribute in their pursuit of easy money, or moron money, as I like to call it (because they do not possess the necessary brain-power or talents to become wealthy legitimately).

Names that readily spring to mind include Michael Creft, Grenada’s former chief offshore regulator; Keith Mitchell, Grenada’s former Prime Minister; Michael Misick, former Premier of the Turks & Caicos Islands (and other TCI politicians too numerous to mention because it would bore you); Jonathan Curshen, a convicted money launderer and St. Kitts & Nevis’ former Honorary Consul in Costa Rica; Marc Harris, CPA, formerly of Panama; Irvin BonCamper, of St. Kitts & Nevis; and McKeeva Bush, current Premier of the Cayman Islands and the only one mentioned above whom I know still to be ‘active’, although he is currently being criminally investigated for suspected corruption (but don’t hold your breath on any meaningful action being taken since the Cayman authorities historically prefer the sweep-everything-under-the-carpet approach – as perfected by the British – to diligent investigations and enforcement).

It takes intelligence, honesty, hard-work and/or luck to have a stab at creating significant wealth legitimately and in a manner that allows a normal person to sleep soundly at night, whether you are onshore or offshore.

There are plenty of people operating in the offshore world who fit this bill and it is offshore jurisdictions where such people are in the majority, not the minority, that have every chance of thriving in the modern global economy, regardless of what governments of major countries throw at them. Good luck to them, I say. Governments of major countries are far from perfect, with many being an absolute mess of corruption and incompetence, so any offshore jurisdiction that offers legal products and services that meet generally-accepted standards of morality (accepted by the sane, that is, and does not include religious whack-jobs, wherever they may be) deserve to succeed.

Jurisdictions where dishonest activity has historically been the norm, rather than the exception, such as Grenada, Antigua, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Nauru and Vanuatu, have deservedly failed as OFCs. Whether Switzerland’s private banking industry falls into this category remains to be seen but enough of its bankers and U. S. clients of its banks have pleaded guilty in the U. S. to know there was and maybe still is a serious problem.

Providers of legitimate offshore products and services, including those in Switzerland, should applaud the efforts of the U. S. to hold financial criminals accountable for their actions because it weeds out the riff-raff, who are an embarrassment to any jurisdiction that cherishes its credibility, and benefits society as a whole.


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