Ben Delicious reports from Gibraltar: Yep, it’s that time of year, people, when many politicians slip into obscurity for a while, travelling in disguise sometimes, to all sorts of exotic places, to spend some quality time with their lawyers who handle their off-shore bank accounts, checking whether their treachery has been properly rewarded. We are talking lots of moolah here, ladies and gents, for the current lot running Europe have been mighty active in the past year, doing their best to please the money men, big business, the arms producers and, of course, the wealthy Arabs and other rich foreigners who pay a lot for looking after them and their interests.
Gibraltar is one place where some of the politicians are having their interests registered using off-shore companies. It’s well located, smack in Europe’s underbelly, it’s got receptive lawyers with shifty eyes and sweaty palms and its local authorities have been looking the other way for decades. Not to mention, obviously, the very low taxes and excellent anonymity. Unlike, say, Switzerland or Lichtenstein or Luxemburg or Cyprus, which have all been known to give names of account holders to all sorts of authorities, allowing governments to freeze accounts of their citizens and pillage them. Politicians don’t like that sort of thing, you know. They work damn hard for their money to let someone take a bite at their secret fortunes.
But some politicians, especially form countries like Germany and France and the Nordic states prefer the warmer climates of the Caribbean where they may not just spend time with their off-shore accounts but bask in the sun and enjoy the sea and hook up with some of their friends from banking and big business. Lots of deals are done in the Caribbean during the Christmas breaks, with politicians returning looking refreshed and full of confidence in their future.
And let’s not forget British Virgin Islands, an excellent tax haven for anyone from the world of politics, with a proven track record in anonymity and discretion. Have you heard of anyone complaining about BVI? Exactly. A favourite of British politicians, for obvious reasons, and of officials from Ireland and the proud nations of the Commonwealth. Some well-known faces are expected to pay a visit to the BVI this Christmas break, to check on their bank balances and warn their managers of serious amounts coming in at the very end of this year and the beginning of the next one.
And then there’s Malta, a wonderful place, rich in history and tradition of locals keeping their traps shut about the many strange things happening there, failing to recognise famous people when they visit. Politicians have been slow in discovering the benefits of the place but as of recent years they have been showing keen interest in the island, especially as banks in the Baltics are now happy to look after the off shore companies registered there.
Mind you, the really big hitters, like presidents and prime ministers, don’t really bother to fly to tax havens as the have their fixers who do it for them. They can just have some fun during the Christmas holidays, safe in the knowledge that their financial status is secure, protected by some of the biggest names in banking, business and the underworld.