Banks have been enabling wealthy tax cheats for many decades

“Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” — Thucydides

I thought of this quotation while reading about another Swiss private banker, Rudolf M. Elmer, who has come forward to reveal how Swiss banks have long helped wealthy clients avoid paying taxes:

Mr. Elmer, who ran the Caribbean operations of the Swiss bank Julius Baer for eight years… continues to disclose the inner workings of Julius Baer — one of many Swiss institutions that investigators say help clients evade billions of dollars in taxes by routing money through offshore havens in the Caribbean and Switzerland.

“It is a global problem, and I am only the messenger who provides the bad news, or even better, the truth,” Mr. Elmer, 54, wrote in a recent e-mail message. “Offshore tax evasion is the biggest theft among societies and neighbor states in this world.”

Mr. Elmer contends that his documents detail the undisclosed role of American investment management companies in funneling American, European and South American clients who wished to avoid taxes to Julius Baer; the backdating of documents to establish trusts and foundations used to evade taxes; and the funneling of trades for hedge funds and private equity firms from high-tax jurisdictions through Baer entities in the Cayman Islands.

Posted by James on Tuesday, January 19, 2010