Yes, yes, that’s right

The Prime Minister has suggested Nigeria and Afghanistan are corrupt. And he’s right if you think that corruption is solely about those who abuse public office or tax systems for personal gain.

He failed to mention the fact that a whole of army of lawyers, accountants and bankers, many in tax havens, are required to undertake this abuse. Prof Prem Sikka has called them The Pinstripe Mafia.

And if you think more broadly about corruption then having a banking system that systemically mis-sells, where key financial data has been routinely rigged and where we permit 400,000 companies a year to disappear without trace because we cannot be bothered to enforce company law might also be considered signs of serious failure with regard to corruption.

But David Cameron is looking in the wrong direction. As a result he thinks Nigeria and Afghanistan are spectacularly corrupt. Actually we are too. A tax gap of £120 billion is the evidence of that.

Time to take action on the home front, I suggest.

The voices say that my musings on simple and efficient company registration mean that Britain is as corrupt as the most corrupt places on the planet.

18 thoughts on “Yes, yes, that’s right”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    And if you think more broadly about corruption then having a banking system that systemically mis-sells, where key financial data has been routinely rigged and where we permit 400,000 companies a year to disappear without trace because we cannot be bothered to enforce company law might also be considered signs of serious failure with regard to corruption.

    Because in Nigeria, God knows banks never mis-sell anything.

    Fatuous tosser. Foreign places aren’t like Milton Keynes. They are actually very different.

  2. Ritchie is of course totally bonkers, but he’s accidentally said something which could be twisted into a real point.

    The UK doesn’t have corruption of the traditional variety, to any great extent. It does, though, have corruption. It’s just that instead of a million quid of corruption involving a direct bribe of a million quid in cash, and costing a million quid, we hide it better – so the politicians still get their million quid, but it comes through investing in some company that’s going to win the contract for some government-funded scheme or other, and costs us maybe £100m or £1b in padded contracts for every £1m actually extracted.

    I have long argued that it’s pointless to try and achieve zero corruption, and that instead we should give politicians what we might call a nepotism and corruption allowance.

  3. First, define ‘corruption’ in an entirely spurious and arbitrary way.
    Then claim the UK is massively corrupt based on said definition.

    The life of an internet tax expert, explained.

  4. “a whole of army of lawyers, accountants and bankers, many in tax havens, are required to undertake this abuse.”

    From what I’ve heard of Nigeria, it mostly isn’t. Cash in hand to officials; no lawyers, accountants or bankers needed.

  5. Having suffered the horrors of Nigeria on a number of occasions in my working life; I can honestly say that we have no idea what corruption is in this country. Richard make the totally valid point that cash paid to the officials at the airport, docks and other “official” places, plus the other amounts of dash to get anything done, don’t go through the banks.

  6. I wonder what Nigeria’s “Tax gap” is, what with all this untaxed bribery going on. Murphy’s head would burst trying to work it all out. $47tn probably.

  7. PF

    Oh. We’re back to £120bn again are we. I thought his hammering during Corbyn’s election to Labour Leader would have put him off that. But no, if you’re shameless the world is.much easier to navigate.

  8. If your evidence of corruption includes the capital allowances Parliament intended to be claimed actually being claimed, then you have found no corruption.

  9. Dear Mr Worstall

    ” … a whole of army of lawyers, accountants and bankers, many in tax havens, are required to undertake this abuse. Prof Prem Sikka has called them The Pinstripe Mafia.”

    That’s the ‘mafia’ which ensures that all of the ‘abuse’ is in fact perfectly legal and fully compliant with the law. Is Mr Murphy accusing the government of being a bunch of organised criminals? If so, I would agree with him, though mostly on different grounds.

    @ Dave May 11, 2016 at 10:11 am

    ” … we should give politicians what we might call a nepotism and corruption allowance.” That’s called ‘expenses’.

    DP

  10. Daedalus:

    Back in 1962, I brought in a mixed bag of reptiles from southern Mexico (Colima) through the Matamoros/Brownsville entry port–all illegal of course, (both as exports and imports). I
    had rattlesnakes, boas (including over 100 babies), about 50 iguanas (both black and green). and various other varieties of lizards and snakes.

    Inspection on the Mexican side of the border went smoothly. . When I tendered a $50 “tip” to the polite officer in charge, he said, “Oh, no, sir! I cannot accept. Your people have made all necessary arrangements on both sides of the border. Have a nice trip home.”

  11. If you want to know what corruption in the UK looks like, look at the list of names and organisations in that Danny Dorling bit. All fat on the hard-earned of taxpayers.

  12. Gene Berman siad:
    “Back in 1962, I brought in a mixed bag of reptiles … rattlesnakes, boas (including over 100 babies), about 50 iguanas (both black and green). and various other varieties of lizards and snakes.”

    All hidden down your trousers? No wonder Texans all walk the way they do.

  13. Richard:

    Lived in TX only temporarily. Most of my life in the vicinity of Philly.

    Actually brought ’em back by third-class bus (a decrepit version of a yellow school bus)–a 3-day trip with stops in every village along the way. My stock had to ride on the roof and I had to get up there and water them down 3 or 4 times a day to counteract the heat of the sun.

    The more important animal smuggling was parrots, parakeets, and canaries. The most successful parrot smuggler was a guy (also a reptile dealer) who, later in life, achieved near-billionaire status as the inventor of the well-known Nautilus line of exercise equipment. Parakeets and
    canaries, quite some years ago, went to Germany and were sold all over Europe at almost no profit (to eat the birdseed that was the family’s real business) until, being Jewish, they saw the “handwriting on the wall” and came to the U.S,, staying with folks in Brownsville who’d been shipping birds to them (and, subsequently, starting a company named for the
    region of their origin in Germany: Harz Mountain).
    .

  14. Having suffered the horrors of Nigeria on a number of occasions in my working life; I can honestly say that we have no idea what corruption is in this country.

    Seconded.

  15. From what I’ve heard of Nigeria, it mostly isn’t. Cash in hand to officials; no lawyers, accountants or bankers needed.

    Corruption in Nigeria takes every form imaginable, and several more unimaginable.

  16. Jeez, only in the comments section of Tim Worstall’s blog would we come across a former reptile smuggler. That beats the expert on bell-ringing that popped up here some time back. I love this place.

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