One of the great attractions of dealing in offshore financial centres is the matter of confidentiality. Many people, especially if they are high-wealth individuals, do not want others peering into their financial affairs and structures. They require privacy. This is particularly so if the would-be inquirer is the individual's Commissioner of Taxation.
Fast communications and jet travel have made the world smaller, resulting in business being transacted worldwide by people who are constantly on the move in the conduct of their business. To achieve the best bottom-line results for their business and for themselves personally, it is commonplace for international structures to be put in place to minimize the tax burden. This is the province of international tax experts. They look to find where their clients will have a safe haven, where the taxpayers will enjoy low taxation and privacy about their finances. All this is perfectly reasonable and the inevitable result of high-tax countries.
However, there is a dark side. Around the world crime is flourishing. This may involve theft in the simple form of robbing a bank or other financial institution (like the Great Train Robbery in England) or in the form of expropriation by a tyrannical leader of a country, who, through his position as head of state, milks that country's economy and spirits away the funds into secret bank accounts. There are many types of theft between these two extremes. But in all cases the perpetrator has to be able to launder his ill-gotten gains so that what has happened is hidden from the outside world and from those trying to follow the money trail. Banking confidentiality is a blessing to these thieves; it throws a cloak over what they have done. This is still true today, even when so many institutions are practising due diligence.Intertax