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World's top 10 tax havens

Last updated on: November 13, 2013 10:39 IST

World's top 10 tax havens

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“The biggest providers of financial secrecy are not small, palm-fringed islands as many suppose, but some of the world’s biggest and wealthiest countries,” finds the Financial Secrecy Index.

According to the report, $21-$32 trillion of private financial wealth is located, untaxed or lightly taxed, in secrecy jurisdictions around the world.

Illicit cross-border financial flows add up to an estimated $1-1.6 trillion each year.

India ranks 32nd on global ranking of financial secrecy. India accounts for less than 2 per cent of the global market for offshore financial services, making it a small player.

The report further noted "India's 46 per cent secrecy score shows that it must still make major progress in offering satisfactory financial transparency."

The index was compiled by the Tax Justice Network, a global research and advocacy group focused on tax matters.

Take a look at the world’s 10 most secretive financial destinations…


Image: A woman displays euro and U.S. dollar notes at foreign currency exchange counter.
Photographs: Kham/Reuters

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Switzerland

Rank: 1

FSI Value: 1,765.2

Secrecy score: 78 

“Switzerland is the grandfather of the world’s tax havens, one of the world’s biggest financial centres, and biggest secrecy jurisdictions or tax havens,” says the Financial Secrecy Index.
In 2012, around $2.8 trillion in assets were under management in Switzerland, or about a quarter of the world’s total, according to the Swiss Bankers’ Association.

This ranking is based on a combination of its secrecy score and a scale weighting based

on its share of the global market for offshore financial services, says the Financial Secrecy Index.

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Image: Swiss franc banknotes of several values are sorted in a money counter in a bank in Zurich.
Photographs: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

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Luxembourg

Rank: 2

FSI Value: 1,454.4

Secrecy score: 67

Luxembourg plays a big role in accounting for over 12 per cent of the global market for offshore financial services, making it a big player.

It offers a range of international and offshore services like wealth management, asset management, international  loans, insurance and structured finance.

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Photographs: Reuters

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Hong Kong

Rank: 3

FSI Value: 1,283.4

Secrecy score: 72

Hong Kong is one of the world’s fastest growing tax havens.

Hong Kong accounts for over 4 per cent of the global market for offshore financial services.

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Image: Yuan notes are counted at a currency exchange office in Hong Kong.
Photographs: Bobby Yip/Reuters

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Cayman Islands

Rank: 4

FSI Value: 1,233.5

Secrecy score: 70

A British overseas territory located in the western Caribbean Sea, Cayman Islands accounts for over 4 per cent of the global market for offshore financial service. 

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Image: Cayman Islands
Photographs: Reuters

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Singapore

Rank: 5

FSI Value: 1,216.8

Secrecy score: 70

One of the world’s fastest-growing centres for private wealth management, Singapore accounts for about 4.3 per cent of the global market for offshore financial services. 

Singapore is likely to overtakeSwitzerland as the world’s largest offshore wealth centre by 2020.

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Image: Singapore currency notes are seen through a magnifying glass among other currencies in this photo illustration taken in Singapore
Photographs: Edgar Su/Reuters

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United States

Rank: 6

FSI Value: 1,212.9

Secrecy score: 58

The United States accounts for over 22 per cent of the global market for offshore financial services.

The United States provides a range of offshore secrecy services. It provides secrecy for non-residents, both at a Federal level and at the level of individual US, states the Tax Justice Network study.  

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Photographs: Reuters

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Lebanon

Rank: 7

FSI Value: 747.8

Secrecy score: 79

Lebanon accounts for less than 1 per cent of the global market for offshore financial services.

“Combined with the secrecy, in common with many other secrecy jurisdictions, Lebanon offers significant tax exemptions for non-residents, including on profits, on stamp duties on  contracts, inheritance taxes, corporate income taxes, dividend distributions, capital gains, interest,” states the Financial Secrecy Index.

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Photographs: Reuters

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Germany

Rank: 8

FSI Value: 738.3

Secrecy score: 59

Germany has been placed in the lower mid-range of the secrecy scale.

Germany accounts for over 4 per cent of the global market for offshore financial services, making it a large player in the market. 

“Germany offers a worrisome set of secrecy facilities and instruments. Like many other OECD  countries, Germany does not sufficiently exchange tax-related information, automatically or  otherwise, with a multitude of other jurisdictions,” the Financial Secrecy Index points out.

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Image: A money suitcase (Geldkoffer) containing chocolate euro notes is pictured outside the headquarters of Germany's federal bank Deutsche Bundesbank.
Photographs: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

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Jersey

Rank: 9

FSI Value: 591.7

Secrecy score: 75

A small player, Jersey accounts for less than 1 per cent of the global market for offshore financial services.

Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, lies south of the UK.
 
The island hosts a major offshore financial centre in its capital, Saint Helier.

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Image: A picture illustration of U.S. dollar, Swiss Franc, British pound and Euro bank notes.
Photographs: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

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Japan

Rank: 10

FSI Value: 513.1

Secrecy score: 61

Japan accounts for over 1 per cent of the global market for offshore financial services, making it a small player.

“Japan’s fairly weak provisions on transparency and information exchange, combined with its tax-free treatment of various forms of foreign investment and exemption from financial regulations, have made it a significant destination for illicit financial flows,” states the Financial Secrecy Index.

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Image: Japanese 10,000 yen bank notes and coins.
Photographs: Toshiyuki Aizawa/Reuters

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