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Offshore Piracy?

If you follow the Italian news, then you will know something of the amnesty designed to recoup the billions Italians have stashed out of the reach of Italy’s taxman in comfy offshore accounts.

Said amnesty has, so far, seen some 80 billion Euros return to Italian banks.  A not inconsiderable sum, I’m sure you will agree.  As a consequence of its success, the amnesty has been extended well into 2010 to encourage even more of Italy’s tax dodgers to bring their gains back within the grasp of Italy’s cash starved taxman.

Offshore Banking
Offshore Banking

Now, the odd thing is that some of those who have taken advantage of Italy’s amnesty will be more than a little relieved to place their dosh in the coffers of honest Italian banks.  Indeed, from what I have heard, some are literally scrambling to move their offshore fortunes onshore.

Why?It’s amazing what parents end up chatting about at children’s parties, isn’t it?  Well, it can be.

Yesterday, while at a party, I chatted with a parent, I will not say who, as I do not have this person’s permission.  Said person just happens to work for a rather large international bank.  I did ask him about his multi-billion Euro bonus, and was told that he was not one of the lucky beneficiaries and that he was glad to still have a job.

Diminished Fortunes

Anyway, we got talking about the crisis, and he told me that a number of the Italians who wanted to take advantage of the tax amnesty and had attempted to transfer their offshore funds back into Italy had been faced with a nasty surprise.  At the moment of transfer,that ten million offshore nest egg had, somehow, become around a million.  And this was despite account statements through the years saying that all was hunky dory.

Nobody Can Steal What You Have not Got

The people who discovered that their offshore fortunes were not quite as substantial as they had thought could do nothing.  After all, it’s a little difficult to make a report to the police concerning the disappearance of money you never had.

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Funnily enough, not many stories of dodgy goings on within offshore banks have made it into the press, as not many people are willing to admit to their embarrassing misfortune.  My friend who works in Italy’s banking sector told me that stories of mysteriously diminished fortunes are legion.

Those who have suffered from the effects of offshore piracy have, in the meantime, being spreading the word.  Which is why, apparently, others have been rushing to put their cash back into the relative security of an Italian bank.  There is a possibility, but this is pure speculation, that another reason for extension of the amnesty was to help a few friends of friends.

No Proof

Can I prove that any of this has happened?  No, I cannot, aside from having heard the story from a person who works in a bank.  You could, though, attempt to find out if this tale holds any (sea) water by trying this. The next time you dine with a banker, or a wealthy friend, mention this story to them.  If your wealthy friend should gag on his Montepulciano red, or appears to turn a whiter shade of pale, then you will know that he was one of those poor individuals who suffered at the hands of an unscrupulous offshore bank.

Sometimes avoiding tax evasion can pay.  Moral of the story: Make sure that offshore bank you choose is not run by pirates.

If anyone knows of other stories about this, or is aware someone who has suffered from offshore piracy, such as a friend of a friend who you heard about via an ex-acquaintance of an old school friend while you were holidaying on the Cayman Islands perhaps, then do spill some indirect hearsay beans.

Some further reading:

Financial Times: 23 December, 2009 – Italy tax amnesty yields record €80bn

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