The Guardian

The Guardian September 5, 2001


Culture and Life

by Rob Gowland

The wonders of Capitalism

I know some of you think I have been a little harsh on capitalism in 
these columns of late, and perhaps you are right. In fact, I think it's 
time to give capitalism its due.

Let's face it, only capitalism lets you buy phony passports over the 
Internet, or open anonymous foreign bank accounts or purchase the academic 
degree of your choice or avoid paying tax to your government by setting up 
a company in the Cayman islands or Nauru or any one of a number of "tax 
havens".

Want to avoid your creditors, prevent the authorities from tracing your 
financial dealings, money laundering, drug trafficking? Then you need 
anonymous Internet banking, an anonymous Czech savings account, and an 
anonymous GSM Czech phone number.

Those stodgy Commies who ran socialist Czechoslovakia used to actually 
frown on this kind of entrepreneurism. In fact, they were inclined to put 
you in jail for engaging in what is after all only legitimate business 
practice.

But since Vaclav Havel's so-called "Velvet Revolution" and the overthrow of 
socialism there, the authorities in Prague are much more understanding of 
the, er, special needs of the business community.

However, if the Czech Republic's not to your taste, there's plenty of other 
places which understand the capitalist motto "Money talks!".

For only $2,200 you can have your very own Channel Island company with 
Internet online accounts already set up and a Maestro Debit card already 
issued  in nominee names, of course, to ensure you have "100 percent 
anonymity".

Also included is your own company seal, business cards, stationery, a phone 
number (with answering service), fax number, e-mail address. Your mail will 
be forwarded by your "competent and discrete staff".

Providing this corporate identity along with the "discrete staff", all the 
while preserving your anonymity, is of course the business of yet another 
business. See how wonderfully productive capitalism is when governments 
don't interfere?

Look at Nauru. A dot in the ocean about 3000 kilometres from Sydney, with a 
population of only 9000, it was faced with finding a revenue earner when 
the island's phosphate deposits became exhausted in the 1990s.

Extraction of phosphate (by British capitalism) has left the island largely 
barren and unable to be used for growing food. Most foodstuffs and all 
manufactured goods have to be imported. Capitalism was able to provide 
several ingenious solutions.

As long ago as 1972, a far-seeing Nauru Government put in place laws to 
enable foreigners to register corporations and trusts there, free of any 
income tax.

Nauru trusts and companies can be used in several handy ways: they can hold 
land in other countries or manage stock portfolios. They are great for 
avoiding inheritance and estate duties.

This useful facility can be yours for a mere US$900, the cost of 
incorporation in Nauru. About eighteen banks service the island, testimony 
to the appeal of a tax haven for financial institutions (compare that to 
your average Australian country town).

One reason for this is that Nauru generously allows foreign companies, such 
as finance companies, to set up in-house banks based in Nauru with as 
little capital as US$100,000. The fee for the relevant licence is only 
US$20,000.

Unlike some other countries, no local directors are required. You do have 
to have an office in Nauru and a company secretary, but a local legal or 
management firm could provide that (just like the Channel Islands).

But capitalism is never content; it is always looking for new ways to make 
life better for business people. The international corporate community is 
campaigning for government services to be privatised.

Nauru has acted on this issue and handed over its immigration control to a 
private company, Transpacific Development, based in Hong Kong and 
Washington.

This company can now sell Nauruan citizenship and passports. They are 
available to anyone, in the name of your choice, for US$50,000, no 
questions asked. Compare that with the petty restrictions governments 
impose.

Nauru now earns about US$10 million a year from the sale of passports. The 
scheme has been criticised, by Canada and Australia amongst others, for 
providing people smugglers and criminals with legal documents allowing them 
to change identities. Such churlish comments should be treated with 
disdain.

These critics, and those who claim the scheme is being used to "feather the 
nests" of key members of the Nauru cabinet, should be reminded that 
"business is business". As the Chief Secretary of Nauru points out, theirs 
is not the only "citizenship scheme" operating in the region. Nauru, in 
fact, is, as he says, only "one player in the process".

If there is a need, the capitalist market can be relied on to meet that 
need  for a competitive price. If your assets are threatened by the 
possible election of a socialist government, if your business is restricted 
by currency controls or you are not allowed to invest your money where and 
when you want, then companies can be found that will arrange for you to get 
a second passport.

An Irish passport is the most highly recommended, but Irish citizenship is 
also the most costly. The next best is Venezuela, whose passport provides 
"excellent visa-free travel" at a fraction the cost of Ireland's.

These passports, and citizenship papers, are provided on payment of the 
necessary fees and after a wait of only one to three months, in 
Switzerland, which does not stamp visa-free passports. You can enter on 
your existing passport and exit the country on your new one.

If you want to check out just what capitalism can do for you, look up the 
Carlton Press website,

http://www.offshore-manual.com

You'll be surprised.

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