Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tax Havens

Apparently Mme Bettencourt isn't the only one:

Wealth protected offshore is now estimated at between $7 trillion and $15 trillion. The figure is based on “high net-worth” individuals – not corporations. That’s equivalent to a fifth or a quarter of world GDP, varying analysts say.
A 2005 figure by the Tax Justice Network, an international group of lawyers, scholars, and accountants found $11.5 trillion. “We think it is a low estimate,” says John Christensen, director of TJN. “Most of us would be surprised today if the figure is lower than 15 trillion. Wealth management firms believe the high-net wealth category has recovered [from 2008], often with spectacular gains.”

Is this possible? An astonishing figure! Summing up:

“The Bettencourt story embodies the quintessential French paradox,” argues Karim Emile Bitar, editor of the Paris journal ENA. “The French are very resentful of inequalities and privileges. They refer fondly to the “Nuit du 4 août” [in 1789, that ended the monarchy and abolished privileges]. At the same time, every French Tom, Dick and Harry tries to maximize and protect his own privileges. He wants to eradicate abusive tax shelter deals but would vehemently protest if the fiscal authorities investigate his own books too closely.”

(h/t KEB)