Originally Published: June 13, 2018 6 a.m.
London's openess to corrupt finance
U.S. tried to regulate more like London in early 2000s
That financial and legal systems mostly favor the top, even to the point of ignoring harm to the rest, is such a given that it isn’t even hidden. Here is one recent example.
London’s equivalent of Wall Street -- their financial district they call The City -- has long had the open secret of lax rules which make it a welcoming place for tax cheats, corrupt rulers stealing from their people, crime cartels, and financial shysters who harm both big players and small pensioners alike. The Wall Street Journal, in a recent piece (https://www.wsj.com/articles/britain-takes-stab-at-wrangling-dirty-money-1527111693), says it has a reputation as, “one of the money-laundering capitals of the world.”
The story centers on London but it’s not isolated to them. Plenty of U.S. high-finance is conducted through London when the looser rules are helpful.
In the years just before the crash the U.S. Congress came close to passing rules loosening Wall Street regulations to be more like London’s out of fear of losing business to them. About the same time, our Security and Exchange Commission adopted rules to allow banks to be more self-policing.
The Brits are considering tightening rules a little, but only because it’s causing harm to some of the big players. Some in British government wanted to tighten the rules out of concern, “about human rights, tax evasion and social justice,” but that was never enough reason for change.
Now, the laundered money of Russians is going toward things like influencing the Brexit vote. Brexit is going to cost a lot of big players a lot of money. The heck with whether little people have been harmed all along. Now the problem is that some of the absurdly wealthy might become a little less absurdly wealthy. This is serious.
They are considering changes that would be a, “blow to the secrecy that is essential to the large-scale laundering of corrupt wealth that has long flowed into London.”
But the Journal is forthright about how far these changes can go.
“It is fanciful to expect that the shift in political mood will lead to any meaningful change in London’s openness to corrupt money. That would require a cultural shift in the City itself that shows little signs of happening.”
Additionally, “Domestic vested interests have blocked wider reform...leaving...a back door in Europe’s anti-money-laundering framework.”
The Journal says if anything it could get worse, “as the City, faced with the possible loss of lucrative European business, becomes even more focused on global deals.” Also, “The British establishment has put itself at the services of the world’s oligarchs.”
If it hasn’t beaten it’s way through out thick skulls yet, almost no one in positions of power gives a rat’s behind about the average person. I don’t mean to be absolute. There are good politicians, high-court judges and high-level prosecutors, but they’re just trying to hold back the tide. Unless people retake ownership of the system and compel it to be focused on them, nothing will change.
As things stand now, money is all, and people and organizations with a lot of it only care about that world. Anyone who doesn’t have tons of money, isn’t worth protecting or worth making sure things work right for them. If in the course of making an extra fraction of a percent of profit, little people get harmed, that’s just how things run these days.
London is the example. The Wall Street Journal is the documenter. The nature of the game is not hidden.
Tom Cantlon is a local business owner and writer and can be reached at comments at tomcantlon.com.