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Laundering earnings vs laundering money

Written By: - Date published: 4:49 pm, May 13th, 2016 - 35 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, colonialism, Economy, International, kiwisaver, loan sharks, Mining, overseas investment, tax - Tags: , , ,

Prof Michael Hudson, economist, 1/8th Chippewa indian, whose father was a Trotsky stalwart, recently appeared on RT’s Keiser Report.

Hudson was promoting his new book “Killing the Host,” on how financial parasites and debt bondage is destroying the civilised world.

The following is my interpretation of a few things that Hudson said to Max Keiser during episode 910 of the Keiser Report:

Keiser Report Hudson

Hudson worked for Chase Manhattan Bank (these days part of JP Morgan) in the late 1960s and helped do work for the US government in developing the financial rationale for tax havens.

The US Government of the day was facing a severe balance of payments crisis, partly due to needing to pay for the Vietnam War. Michael Hudson, as an employee of Chase Manhattan Bank, was asked how much money the US could get flowing in from cash rich international criminal enterprises, in order to fix this balance of payments hole.

I presume this meant everything from gunrunners to drug cartels to prostitution and human trafficking.

The US also eliminated the witholding tax on US Treasuries to further incentivise cashed up criminal enterprises to invest in (i.e. lend to) the US government. Essentially, the US wanted to replace Switzerland as the place where criminal enterprises stashed their large cash takings.

Also while at Chase Manhattan, one of the clients Hudson serviced was Standard Oil. A Standard Oil executive carefully explained to a young Hudson how from his New York Standard Oil office, the executive could decide with a stroke of a pen where exactly in the world Standard Oil would make its profits for the coming year and where it would make its losses, in order to get the best tax result for the shareholders.

This is where Panama becomes relevant. Central_America_Map

Michael Hudson says that in some ways, Panama cannot be considered a real country – it does not have its own currency (it uses the USD) and it does not have its own income tax system.

Panama was originally used by the oil industry and mining industry in the 1920s to set up their system of “flags of convenience.” In other words, Panama was set up as the location where these huge companies decided to attribute their worldwide profits to, via their “shipping affiliates” and other associated companies.

In this complex system, various oil corporations’ massive capital investment in deep sea drilling rigs and gigantic oil refineries are all financially designed to provide the parent corporations with zero return on investment. Hudson says that the gargantuan and very expensive infrastructure end up run as charities which sOil_rig_2336975bubsidise the very profitable operation of the international (i.e. tax haven based) shipping and sales affiliates of the parent corporation.

Another great aspect of Panama to these corporations it is no more than an extension of the the US financial system. Back in 1967, for reasons already discussed, the US government convinced major US banks to open branches there. This meant that a US corporate could deposit money into a Panamanian branch of a big US bank, pay whatever taxes Panama required on those monies (none), and then access the funds straight away via a New York City branch of the same bank.

I would not be surprised if physical money and checks could be deposited into the New York premises of such a bank. The bank teller would simply credit the deposit to an account ostensibly held by the Panamanian branch of the bank. Which might potentially be nothing more than an office cubicle in Panama City with a name plaque, desk and fax machine inside.chase

The money would never actually leave the US, although it would appear as a current account flow.

Hudson says that many other industries have now adopted the efficient tax operations pioneered by the oil and mining industries.

To be clear, the activity carried out is that of laundering earnings, not of laundering money. Hudson differentiates between the two. In laundering money, the true owners of the money attempt to conceal how the money was obtained, where the money came from, and who it belongs to. A system which Hudson refers to as a “Veil of Tiers” (i.e. a complex hierarchy of shell organisations) is used to obscure these details.

In contrast, when laundering earnings, corporations like Apple are completely upfront about where the money came from, who it belongs to, who the directors of the company are and who the shareholders are.

The aim therefore is not to obscure any of those details, the aim is simply to minimise the tax those monies are subject to by making it look like the profits are legitimately made in Panama. (Or in Ireland, as is the case with Apple, Microsoft, Pfizer and Google).

In my view, and in this context, the fact that Key turned NZ into an international tax haven is partially irrelevant. In contrast, why he did it is everything.

 

 

 

35 comments on “Laundering earnings vs laundering money ”

  1. Paul 1

    Thank.
    Most interesting.

    • Chooky 1.1

      +100…the crux is …”the fact that Key turned NZ into an international tax haven …WHY he did it is everything”.

      WHY… is the tip of the iceberg imo..it is a signpost as to what he is doing elsewhere unseen and what his values are…the fact that he has the lawyer he does is also a sign post ( does he have similar tax avoiding trusts overseas?…questions need to be asked in Parliament)

      …he is probably the worst and most corrupt PM New Zealand has ever had

      …PMs and MPs should be totally transparent about what they do with their money, how they get it , and tax…their position is one of responsibility to a nation and to New Zealanders….they should not be rorting New Zealanders

      National Party members should also be asking questions and examining who and what they are voting for

    • Here’s a few interesting explanations :

      ‘How does a country benefit from from the rich storing their money there? ‘…

      You put the money into a bank in that tax haven.
      Banks, when they look after your money, don’t just leave it sitting in the safe doing nothing. They invest it! They might do this by lending it to other customers (for a fee), or by investing in the stock market or the currency exchange market. But that money is busy earring the bank money.
      (I don’t know the rules in Singapore, but in some tax havens – the Cayman Islands, for example, tax is very low for money earned offshore. But money earned in the tax haven is taxed, albeit not at a massive rate – but the money the bank makes probably will be taxed.

      Also to add that tax-haven states normally have some sort of sovereign-ties to a nice stable G8 country, often as a legacy of their colonial relationship. The Cayman Islands is a territory of the UK for example, and therefore has nice easy access to a large international-trading hub in the form of The City of London.
      This in turn explains why countries are often reluctant to close tax-loopholes or deal with tax avoidance in their off-shore territories; they bring in significant amounts of money to their parent countries in the form of investments which raises money for the parent country as well as keeping their booming financial services industries busy and employing a LOT of people.
      ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

      The internet is a wonderful thing, is it not?

      ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

      And so…we have a PM who rubbed shoulders with the elites in Merril Lynch and has shares in the Bank of America… the same bank that was done for corruption a while back ie: money laundering. And who also promised the Key led govt 2.5 billion dollars if there was a zero rate of taxation for foreign trusts in NZ …

      The Key govt who also could afford tax cuts for the rich ( settlors/beneficiaries? ) but has systematically dismantled our publicly funded welfare and health , prison and education etc by saying ‘ we cannot afford it ‘…

      So Voila !!!

      The problem to all our ills is to suddenly privatize the last vestiges of our welfare state ie : state housing as an example…

      Kind of obvious even to a child whats really going on now, isn’t it…

      Just watch them play Monopoly and you will see what I mean.

  2. Keith 2

    Its a a rich mans piss take, literally use a independant country to benefit themselves. What these mega wealthy corporations need is a safe bolt hole to launder earnings through, a platter of options in case one of those countries elects an ethical government. And they need someone to ensure that happens, someone so morally bankrupt and focused on self enrichment, someone unique and electable.

    In walks John Key, acting for the big corporations he once worked with full time and part time ever since and through his ability as the PM he has set up NZ as a safe place for them to legally launder their money. Those close to the action will be rewarded handsomely and Key delivers and one assumes is also soundly rewarded. We the citizens get nothing out of it and this is the illogical part of all this shit unless you accept that he’s only PM to use the NZ government as a vehicle to assist his business connections

    If you use that logic to assess why National do what they do everything becomes a whole lot easier to understand!

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      We have the appearance of an independent country, most days, is what I’ll say.

  3. Paul Campbell 3

    Yes well explained … So for example when a company like Compass sends “fees” and the like to it’s parent corporation it counts them as costs against their income reducing their tax bill in nz. Apple sends theirs to Ireland because corporate taxes there are far lower there than in NZ or the US.

    • dukeofurl 3.1

      One of the longstanding ways is ‘loans’ from shelf companies in tax havens, but with ridiculous interest rates.

  4. Pat 4

    the whole drive of this administration has been to take the soft option to entice investment to prop up our economy…..instead of making the changes necessary that would likely resulted in national being a one term wonder they have used immigration and dodgy investment sources that have overvalued our currency and provided the credit to fuel a property bubble.

    It will not end well

  5. Graeme 5

    Why has he done it, I think you hit the nail on the head in your comment on the other post CV

    Colonial Viper 7.1.1
    13 May 2016 at 2:32 pm
    Pretty much. I wonder how painful our current account would look without these foreign hot money inflows.

    Is there any way to quantify how much is coming in and the effect it’s having? If it was keeping interest rates down by 2-3% (because the banks are getting cheap money) the effect could be profound. I presume the inflow would be holding the dollar up as well, but that has been blamed on dairy expansion over the last 5 years, but maybe not the case with the trust industry?

  6. Gristle 6

    Since the currency was floated, the volume of NZ Dollars being traded seemed to be way too high given the size of the NZ economy. Is this linked to laundered earnings and or money laundering?

    • dukeofurl 6.1

      The volume of currency traded, thats is real dollars, is only that which is needed for foreign currency exchange.
      What they do trade in vast quantities is a piece of paper that is a futures contract, it may be sold 50 x a day until the day it becomes due.

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        The volume of currency traded, thats is real dollars, is only that which is needed for foreign currency exchange.

        That’s a misleading statement.

        The Reserve Bank publishes statistics of actual NZD volumes traded on the FX markets. The volume traded annually far exceeds the entire GDP of NZ.

        The NZD is the 11th most traded currency in the world.

        NZ ranks no. 55 in the world by GDP. Australia is no. 13.

        http://www.interest.co.nz/charts/exchange-rates/foreign-exchange-trading-volumes

        • Gristle 6.1.1.1

          So my question is why is the trading level disproportionately high?

          Years ago I was advised by a rather wealthy individual not to invest in anything but the biggest companies listed on the NZ bourse. This was on the basis that he and his ilk regularly would coordinate and drive the stock prices of smaller companies this way and that: to their advantage of course.

          Is the NZD treated the same by larger players with currency?

          • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.1.1

            I’ll just point you to my answer the other day: Carry Trade

            • Gristle 6.1.1.1.1.1

              I understand the concept of carry trades but I don’t understand the volume. Arbitrage and carry trade typically refer to short duration aberrations that are extinguished as the market gains awareness. The volume of NZ trading has been sustained for many years. I don’t believe carry trade activity explains long duration situations. Are there structural issues inherent to NZ which encourage the development of arbitrage and carry trade?

        • dukeofurl 6.1.1.2

          That just tells the total trading value, which is public knowlege, what it doesnt say is how the trading occurs.

          Just think about, say one trade for a minute, the value of the kiwi dollar in a weeks time, and how you would do that. And do that at the lowest cost, which means using only a little of your own money, thats what future trading contracts are all about, a piece of paper which says you will buy/sell that amount of $kiwi at a set point.
          means they dont need real money to play with.

          Same goes with poker machine turnover, is in the billions, but the real money in and out is far less.

  7. Joy FL 7

    This piece is much appreciated. Has any party leaders’ office head hunted you? You should be their top special advisor.

    • save nz 7.1

      Yep, time the Labour party held out an olive branch to CV (vice versa). Labour needs to keep all it’s supporters on side and voting for them, even if there is a difference of opinion on policy.

      In my view Labour are on the up. The first step for Labour has been to acknowledge that they went too far in the 1980’s (Grant Robertson apologised in one of the Waatea episodes), the 2nd is to get rid of TPPA (which they have voted against), and get rid of the MP’s that are refusing to back down from Rogernomics agenda (Phil Goff) etc, acknowledge lazy immigration is being used as a tool by the government to hide their appalling record on the economy, but is increasing the housing, social welfare and transport crisis for Kiwis, be much more on top of corruption which seems to have turned into a malignant cancer in this country. Then heal the rifts for their members and supporters.

      • Chooky 7.1.1

        +100 save nz….and they are certainly on the way up with David Cunliffe taking a more prominent role…he is very impressive

        never-the-less it is important that people like CV keep critiqueing Labour

        • Gristle 7.1.1.1

          David is playing in his little square of the playground that he has been given. He is making a silk purse from a sows ear. It’s a pity that his area has been made so small and that there are danger cones around him warning others in the sandpit from playing with him.

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.2

        Unfortunately Labour isn’t interested in people realising what the truth of these matters are.

        If they did, it would become obvious that what needs to be done about is more than a little tweak here and a little tweak there, and pretending that the status quo is sustainable.

        The TPP is nothing but a gift to corporates and a depowering of sovereigns, led by a US Gov which has facilitated corporate power over small states for a hundred years now.

        You wouldn’t want to risk scaring the horses or not looking like a credible “government in waiting” now would you.

        • save nz 7.1.2.1

          @CV – I really feel Labour have turned a corner from even a few months ago. Clearly it is not easy when their own MP’s are so divided into two camps. Maybe it is time for their ex voter critics to give them a break (but still say what policy you think they should be aiming for) rather than saying they will never change. The UBI was an example of looking at the future and getting new ideas – even if you do not agree with the details Labour are engaged with change and new ideas and more importantly not committed to selling our country to cronies.

          • Colonial Viper 7.1.2.1.1

            I think optimism is a marvellous trait for youth to have. For veterans of the wars, less so.

            Btw Labour have shown no signs of banning foreign property purchases in Queenstown, Wanaka, or Auckland.

  8. Panama, originally a province of Colombia was literally stolen by bullying Columbia into giving it tot the US by Teddy Roosevelt in order to 1/ dig a canal 2/Be set up as a legal free zone for Mining and oil companies and 3/ a tax haven by JP Morgan and the same thugs that set up the Federal Reserve bank system in 1903.

    The same year by the way the self same JP Morgan and his banking mates set up the Bankers trust bank which served to provide trust services to customers of state and national banks throughout the country. It also served as a de facto Reserve bank.

    In fact when the Bankers cartel finally got their US Federal Reserve bank system in place the then President Benjamin Strong Jr. became the first governor of the New York Federal Reserve.

    It was the same Bankers Trust bank which pioneered the New financial products now collapsing the system and the first time they used them to attack an an entire country’s currency was when Andrew Krieger and John Key attacked the NZ $ in 1987.

    John Key has been at this a long time and he knows exactly what he is doing!

    • save nz 8.1

      And job losses are humorous to him…. from Wiki about John Key

      “Some co-workers called him “the smiling assassin” for maintaining his usual cheerfulness while sacking dozens (some say hundreds) of staff after heavy losses from the 1998 Russian financial crisis.”

    • Colonial Viper 8.2

      Thanks for the background, travellerev.

    • dukeofurl 8.3

      When the US does it- forces a country to lose a province, its good. When Russia does it to Ukraine, its bad.
      When Turkey invades a former province but which is now an independent country, like Cyprus, its good, But when Russia is involved with a former province like that is bad.
      When Saudi Arabia is involved with and openly uses its airpower in a neighbors civil war, its ok. They dont get sanctions from West but get intell help and get to fill up stocks of weapons.

      • travellerev 8.3.1

        The Russians didn’t force anything. The people of Crimea voted almost unanimously, including the Tartars, to return to Russia and Russia was happy to accommodate. In East Ukraine the Russian people are being slaughtered on a daily base and Russia has so far resisted any intervention apart from Humanitarian food missions.

        • Colonial Viper 8.3.1.1

          Russia is very aware that it is walking a tight rope at the moment. Especially with NATO aka USA building up military forces right on its borders.

          The last time someone did this to Russia was 1941.

          PS do you read The Vineyard of the Saker?

  9. This sounds like such a huge conspiracy theory. Every government has its own agenda when it comes to finance and money. As long as nobody finds out about it or the end result benefits the greater good and all that… I personally just shake my head and pray that we’re not digging ourselves a bigger hole for letting the little problems slide like this.

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