Where would Vladimir Putin be without the Russian oligarchy? Without Russia’s oligarchs, political leaders of the Western world have concluded, Putin would be tottering. Western leaders have made squeezing Russia’s richest a central piece of their strategy to end Putin’s Ukraine cross-border assault.
These same Western leaders, unfortunately, have failed to take seriously what ought to be an equally pressing question: Where would Russia’s oligarchs be without the West, without the Wall Streeters, wealth managers, and assorted other high-finance riff-raff “paid millions,” as Institute for Policy Studies analyst Chuck Collins puts it, “to help billionaires sequester trillions”?
Western leaders have essentially been ignoring this question almost ever since the old Soviet Union collapsed. And now we’re paying the price. Those Ukraine sanctions against Russia’s oligarchs? They come with a huge loophole. The Western world’s opaque web of tax havens and anonymous corporations is essentially rendering much of those sanctions ineffective.
Sanctioned Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, for instance, has used the West’s “wealth defense industry” to shift formal ownership of major chunks of his $18.4-billion personal fortune beyond the reach of sanction orders. Tax havens like the British Virgin Islands, notes Transparency International UK’s Steve Goodrich, “have long been a destination of choice for …read more
Source:: Institute for Policy Studies