Tax justice focus
Forth Quarter 2020 ■ Volume 11 ■ Issue 4

Offshore, national security and Britain’s role

Editorial: Offshore, National Security And Britain’s Role

The British public is used to being warned of systemic threats: terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, Russian espionage, even climate change have been front and centre of the national debate over the preceding decades. However, the British public is much less used to a sustained presentation of the acute risks posed to national security by ungoverned spaces in the financial sector that is supposed to be the country’s competitive advantage. This special issue of the Tax Justice Focus aims to fill this void in the public’s understanding of these threats from the murky world of offshore finance.

The Financial Infrastructure of Corruption

National security practitioners have become increasingly aware of the threat of ‘Kleptocratic regimes’ and ‘strategic corruption’ to the internal politics of liberal-democratic polities. In the classical version of this narrative, authoritarian regimes exploit global financial and business networks to penetrate the internal politics of democratic societies and secure their domestic rule by exploiting the self-interest of particular business groups.

Systemic Corruption and the Oligarchic Threat to National Security

Corruption seems to be everywhere, despite multiple laws, rules, guidelines, and institutions aimed at increasing government transparency and punishing undue influence. This is because corruption is seen as an individual crime rather than a systemic tendency. We need to move away from the ‘bad apples’ approach, in which corruption exists only because there are corrupt people in office, and look at the structure in which these corrupt elites are embedded. What I call systemic corruption refers to the inner functioning of the state order, independent of who occupies the places of power in it.

The Elephant Trap: The Language of National Security and the Politics of Liberation

Discussing the wildfires that were ravaging the West Coast of America, Joe Biden recently called Donald Trump a ’climate arsonist’ as he called climate breakdown a threat to America’s national security. In a bid to display his patriotism, Biden has frequently drawn on the theme of national security – an issue generally reserved for those on the right; he recently tweeted that every day Trump is in office is ‘another day our enemies are emboldened and the American people are at risk.’

Tax havens harm our well-being and security

Our beleaguered societies should learn a trick from the Weebles, an egg-shaped children’s toy popular in the 1970s which always righted itself after you pushed it over. As the advertising jingle put it: “Weebles Wobble But They Don’t Fall Down.” The secret was the weight in the toy’s base.

Getting a Grip on Global Financial Infrastructure

When President Trump defied the international community and left the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, he had an unlikely partner: the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). The Belgian SWIFT provides the payments-messaging services that, in the words of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, are ‘part of almost every international money transfer. So when SWIFT decided to ban certain Iranian banks from its services—over the protests of European governments—it packed a major punch to Tehran’s economy.

Guest Editors: Jack Blum. Charles Davidson and
Ben Judah
Managing Editor: Dan Hind
Contributing Editor: John Christensen
Design and layout:
Email: info(at)
Published by the Tax Justice Network Ltd.
© Tax Justice Network 2020
For free circulation, ISSN 1746-7691