This is an interesting claim

I get bored by hearing this nonsense. There is not the slightest evidence that anyone has ever been subject to kidnap, extortion or any other crime after criminals spent hours pouring over company records.

Let me be clear: I am not saying that people do not live without the fear of these crimes. I know they do. But how will the victims be identified? I suggest that lifestyles of conspicuous consumption might be the best indicators to criminals of their potential victims.

Again, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying anyone should be a victim of crime because they conspicuously consume. That is utterly unacceptable.

All I am saying is that to suggest that offshore secrecy prevents crime of this sort is absurd. It simply does not. It does nothing of the sort. And I am bored by the apologists for offshore tax havens making these wild and wholly unjustified claims aimed at base human emotions, like fear, that have no credibility at all. Those of us opposing tax haven secrecy are not siding with criminals. We’re opposing a system widely abused by criminals. And I think those making these ridiculous excuses know that.

I know someone who was extorted as a result of having opened a bank account.


I opened a corporate back account in Russia one day. Three days later, the information having been passed along, the local mob turned up and demanded their bit. It’s all known as krisha.

I fear that the Egregious Professor doesn’t understand quite what the world out there is like….

27 thoughts on “This is an interesting claim”

  1. Tin foil hat, ear defenders, refusal to read or engage with dissenting opinion, lives alone in an unimpressive semi in a backwater cul de sac of Ely, doesn’t watch TV, mingles and socialises only with brown nosing sycophants, only real source of info or news the Guardian, main hobbies trainspotting and bird watching

    Not surprising really is it?

  2. The Pedant-General

    Candidly, you are merely reproducing anecdata.

    And the “local mob” – your description clearly reeking of neo-liberalism – were simply taxing back the surplus to prevent inflation.

  3. The information that is made public for UK companies right now is already being used by fraudsters. They find a company in the line of work they’re looking for, one that is either dormant or does not trade publicly (ie has no customer facing website) and register a website in that company name, put the company details all over it (including their VAT number if applicable), then put loads of equipment for sale at bargain prices (usually agricultural/construction/grounds keeper type stuff) and promise the earth, delivery to Antarctica if required etc etc, along with loads of fake customer recommendations, and pictures of the machines nicked off the web, and just wait.

    While most buyers will spot its a fraud straight off, enough gullible fools will deal with them entirely by the phone or internet, and not try and see the items, and then wire money to their bank account for a purchase, which they never see again. The bank account will be a UK one, but will be cleaned out as soon as any money hits it, to some god-forsaken part of the world where it will never be traced. The company details are crucial to the fraud, because it adds a degree of official legitimacy to the ‘business’ – look, we’re registered with the UK government! People can look up the company number and see the details on the public register match the website and are satisfied its legit.

    Here is a thread from the farming forum I frequent that covers the sad tale of one of these frauds, costing the victims tens if not hundreds of thousands:

  4. He is making increasingly lurid claims, that he is the one behind ending tax havens, PFI etc. He is also claiming to be equivalent to a full Professor now as well.

    Is he still the 0.2 Prof he used to be, or has he gone full time? Is he actually teaching and who is funding him? He seems to have an awful lot of time for blogging…..

    Anyone have any idea what is going on there?

  5. Tyler, can you remember (before he became a professor of practice) when it was pointed out that Professor Mike Devereux and Judith Freedman were real tax professors at Oxford no less? Richie would snort along the lines of ‘so what, they are neoliberals in the pockets of the corporations’ or something like that.

    Now he is Professor of Useless Bollox 101, he’s playing the card.

  6. Ironically, didn’t he refuse to identify one of his donors in his accounts to “protect their identity”?

  7. Adrian,

    I do remember this. I get the distinct impression though that he has been telling porkies (than usual, him being an expert on everything despite no practical or academic experience) – that he is equivalent to a full Professor and he teaches and has students etc.

    My understanding is that he is currently teaching no courses and has little or no interaction with students, and that his pay comes from Europe somewhere, not the University itself.

    I was wondering if anyone could shed any more light on it though.

  8. The Meissen Bison

    Again, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying anyone should be a victim of crime because they conspicuously consume. That is utterly unacceptable.

    Capt. Potato must have done some earnestly conspicuous consuming down the years to become such a mountain of blubber.

  9. Sure.

    Then we ran the business through an offshore account they didn’t know about.

    Rather the point the Professor missed really….

  10. It’s only recently I realised how common that is, for countries with stupid rules and punitive taxes.

    Do as much of your business offshore as possible, only bring onshore what you physically need to, like living expenses and equipment.

    We aren’t even talking about secret coporate registers in far flung islands – it’s a major reason Miami is a boom town; it’s where Latin America actually does its business.

  11. ‘All I am saying is that to suggest that offshore secrecy prevents crime of this sort is absurd. It simply does not. It does nothing of the sort’

    ‘It simply does not’ – merely because Murphy sez so……..

  12. “Also, it’s ‘poring over’.”

    Candidly, I don’t have time to waste on pendants complaining about my grammer.

    As you are not contributing constructively to the real debate you will not be posting here again.

  13. That share registers are used by fraudsters to locate the names and addresses of potential victims was so well known that the names of those who subscribed to the BP Rights Issue when the share price was below the price of the “Rights” were kept secret by a special government dispensation. I have had two emails from companies in the last couple of years warning me of attempted scams targeted at, in one case, shareholders and, in the other, regular subscribers to their information bulletins. I have also had several approaches from scammers who didn’t reach the notice of the company’s officers.
    That IS evidence.
    There are two possibilities – either Murphy does not know what he is talking about, in which case he is just a pompous fool – or he does, in which case he is worse than that.

  14. There are two possibilities…

    I’ll take door number one, Monty!
    That doesn’t mean that Murphy isn’t worse than just a pompous windbag, of course!

  15. The ‘kidnapping’ thread on TRUK is worth a look – he’s been taken apart & is blustering his way through it.

  16. Bloke in North Dorset

    Argh, the Monty Hall problem rears it’s head. It was good for over 200 posts on the sailing forum and stil some people refused to get it. I wrote a web program for them to play that kept score or could run 50k simulations, but they still refused to change their choice.

  17. The problem with the Monty Hall problem is that it’s usually not stated clearly. “Monty offers you a different door” when it should be “Monty *always* offers you a different door after he removes a door that *always* has a tiger behind it”.

  18. Anyone have any idea what is going on there?

    Yes, Tyler; Spud is a mentally-ill fantasist who is growing increasingly deranged as his public profile shrinks.

    There was a brief time when it looked like he might have won some influence but I think it is fair to say that time has passed.

    I haven’t looked at his blog for a while but as I recall there’s a handful of sycophants, a couple of experts honestly trying to correct his idiocies and a bunch of people teasing him until they get banned.

    My personal view is that the time for Ragging on Ritchie has passed.

  19. Forgot to say, a mate of mine set up a business in Moscow in 2009ish and had the same experience as Tim.

    She said the local mob apologised and said they normally gave new businesses a year’s grace before they made their demands, but times were hard etc…

  20. Apart from the violence but, is the Russian mafia turning up for their cut that different from the local council trippling your business rates because you manage to make some money?

  21. @ Benaud
    Bribes in foreign countries are now illegal in the UK even if they are an accepted cost of doing business, so if you enter them in your tax accounts you will go to jail.
    Under Nehru, Indian civil servants didn’t get pay rises to match inflation (I *think* that they didn’t get any at all) so theycould not even eat, let alone pay the rent or buy clothes on their salaries so their income came from charging customers for the work done. Labour, for whom Nehru was a hero, decided to pretend this was not a problem and that Indians could live on thin air and copied the USA in making “bribery” in foreign countries a crime, regardless of whether it was corruption or just paying a widely recognised fee to get the civil servant to do his job.

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