Knowledge Centre

The following documents set out the evidential basis for the benefits and use of IFCs

Global Shell Games

For criminals moving large sums of dirty money internationally, there is no better device than an untraceable shell company. This paper reports the results of an experiment soliciting offers for these prohibited anonymous shell corporations.

By: Sharman et al

Updated: 1st July 2019

MPs hijacking Brexit legislation do not understand offshore tax havens

There is a lot more behind the angry headlines surrounding tax havens, Juliet Samuels explains in this article in the Telegraph. 

By: Juliet Samuel, The Telegraph

Updated: 5th March 2019

All at Sea

Several of the United Kingdom’s Overseas Territories, such as the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Bermuda, have governments that impose no tax on the profits of businesses they incorporate. That is why they are commonly called tax havens. And it partly explains why they have become offshore financial centres (OFCs).

By: Jamie Whyte, IEA

Updated: 1st March 2019

International financial centres and development finance

Since 2008, there has been a focus on reforming the global financial system to enable it to deliver growth and prosperity while avoiding a repeat of the financial crisis. These reforms are particularly significant for developing countries, because their economic growth – and the poverty alleviation that depends on it – is being held back by a lack of finance.

By: Judith E. Tyson, ODI

Updated: 1st January 2019

Offshore Bet

So much of public policy on international tax is driven by sensational reports of (unrepresentative) individual cases and the misuse of statistics that the actual role of offshore jurisdictions remains unknown to most people.

By: Diego Zuluaga, IEA

Updated: 1st June 2018

Transparent, Sophisticated, Tax Neutral

The truth about offshore alternative investment funds


Updated: 22nd November 2017

Why do Development Finance Institutions use offshore financial centres?

Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) invest public money in private enterprises, with the aim of accelerating the economic development of low- and middle-income countries. One of the greatest threats to development is popularly perceived to be the network of tax havens that drain billions from developing countries, in part by allowing cross-border investors to avoid taxes. And yet these public institutions that exist to promote development regularly route their investments through tax havens. Why?

By: Paddy Carter, ODI

Updated: 1st October 2017

In defence of ‘tax havens’: offshore banking is not the same as dodgy dealing

Offshore investors are not just the uber rich highlighted by the Panama Papers. Many are hardworking people looking for better returns and more flexibility

By: Nigel Green, The Guardian

Updated: 13th April 2016

David Cameron is guilty of bad spin – and nothing more

At last! We can now see why David Cameron tried to keep this quiet. He sold his shares in January 2010 – just as the recovery was starting. What a dunce! His £31,500 would be worth a lot more by now if he’d held, and diversified his portfolio. So can you trust him with the nation’s finances? And this, as far as I can make out, is the limit of the scandal. All else is spin and smear.

By: Fraser Nelson, The spectator

Updated: 8th April 2016

Panama Papers: It’s not a crime to do business offshore

Where does the most British tax go missing these days? Perhaps in Panama, you think. Or Dubai. Or some tropical island where heartless rich people are drinking piña coladas served by starving local children.

By: Juliet Samuel, The Telegraph

Updated: 6th April 2016

Tamper with tax havens at your peril

Revelations in the Panama Papers have caused concern that so-called tax havens lie at the centre of a web of criminal conduct. Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party, has demanded that British finance centres be “shut down”. The uproar invites examination of the role these centres perform in the global economy.

By: Richard Hay, Financial Times

Updated: 1st April 2016

Moving Money

Money "moves" internationally through electrons and physically among financial institutions and non-financial institutions as part of global trade in legitimate goods and services and as part of legitimate transnational capital investment, and, regrettably, as part of criminal enterprise. Some analysts argue that the movement of a large amount of these funds' through offshore financial centers (OFCs) suggests a problem with the financial system that puts "global financial capital. .. beyond the control of any one national government, able effectively to cast judgment on the fiscal and monetary policies of nation states themselves through the disciplinary fear of capital flight."

By: Richard Gordon and Andrew P. Morriss, Texas A&M University School of Law

Updated: 1st January 2014

Turn Down the Heat, Switch on the Light

The conventional wisdom on tax havens - reinforced in recent months in the discussion on tax and the corporate sector (for example, Starbucks, Google, Amazon, and so on) - is that they are the scourge of responsible countries with ‘proper’ tax regimes. As with much conventional wisdom, the reality is different.

By: Jamie Collier, IEA

Updated: 1st June 2013

The Puppet Masters

Corruption is estimated to be at least a $40 billion dollar a year business. Every day, funds destined for schools, healthcare, and infrastructure in the world’s most fragile economies are siphoned off and stashed away in the world’s fi nancial centers and tax havens. Corruption, like a disease, is eating away at the foundation of people’s faith in government. It undermines the stability and security of nations. So it is a development challenge in more ways than one: it directly aff ects development assistance, but it also undermines the preconditions for growth and equity. We need mobilization at the highest level so that corruption is tackled eff ectively.

By: Emile van der Does de Willebois, Emily M. Halter, Robert A. Harrison, Ji Won Park J.C. Sharman, World Bank

Updated: 1st January 2011