By Arno Froese
Midnight Call Ministries
Cyprus and the UK have been named by the World Bank as two of the world’s leading destinations for money launderers.
The Washington-based body in a new report noted that out of 150 high-level corruption cases exposed in recent years, the UK and UK overseas territories Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Isle of Man and Jersey hosted 172 companies used in criminal schemes.
Tiny Cyprus hosted 11. Non-EU countries in Europe - Liechtenstein (28) and Switzerland (7) - also played a big role. Atop this, the UK and Jersey were home to 30 dirty bank accounts. Cyprus hosted 15, Switzerland 76 and Liechtenstein 10.
“Corruption is estimated to be at least a $40 billion dollar a year business. Every day, funds destined for schools, healthcare, and infrastructure in the world's most fragile economies are siphoned off and stashed away in the world’s financial centers and tax havens, the author of the study, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian minister, said.
It costs just $1,950 to set up a company in the British Virgin Islands, which has a population of 25,000 people but is home to 500,000 international business firms, a number growing by 70,000 each year.
The World Bank also raised the alarm over “trusts” and “foundations” - non-profit financial entities which can also be used to make dodgy bank transfers.
Trusts can be impenetrable due to confidentiality laws protecting the identity of the owner. They also cause problems for asset recovery because once a trust has been formed, its assets do not legally belong to the person who gave the money. Trusts came up in just five percent of cases, but the survey noted with concern that Liechtenstein alone has more than 40,000.
The UK, the Netherlands Antilles and Liechtenstein were in the spotlight for still tolerating “bearer shares.”
Explaining the problem, the World Bank said:“The person in legal possession of the physical shares is deemed to be their owner and thus the owner of the company. The problem is knowing who owns the shares at any given point in time ... No legitimate rationale exists for perpetuating bearer shares and similar bearer instruments. We recommend that all countries immobilize or abolish them.”- euobserver.com, 1 November 2011
Money laundering, tax evasion, and “trust” funds are being identified as potential culprits of governmental financial shortcomings.
Much of such money becomes “tax free” or “tax exempt,” adding to the burden of many governments around the world.
Presently, the target country is Greece, which due to extreme mismanagement and unenforced regulations, has become the headache not only for Europe but also the rest of the world.
What does it all mean? Stricter, enforceable regulation, and that in turn will lead to increased control of banks, businesses, and individuals. Bible students know where this will lead, namely the ultimate control - the Mark of the Beast.
Merkel says Europe faces toughest challenge since WW2 - Reuters
World Bank shames EU on money laundering - EUobserver.com
Lagarde warns no country immune to euro crisis - New Zealand Herald
Mark Hitchcock on the Mark of the Beast - BPB (Nathan Jones)
Merkel pushes for closer political ties and tighter budget rules - Bloomberg