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Crotch-sniffing Caymanian Wonder Dog

Tax havens and offshore islands are not quite as “free” — at least in terms of personal liberties — as people might think. R.

  1. Hettinga tells some stories about “Triumph, the Fabulous

Crotch-Sniffing Caymanian Customs Wonder Dog, … and (the Cayman-born expat’s kid) who was literally exiled from the island when the island constabulary discovered a marijuana seed or three in his summer-break rental car a few years back.”

I guess it’s back to the oil rigs then ;)

Date: Sun, 11 Aug 2002 12:31:56 -0400
From: “R. A. Hettinga” (spam-protected)


At 3:36 PM +1000 8/11/02, David Hillary wrote:
> I think that tax havens such as the Cayman Islands should be ranked
> among the freest in the world. No taxes on business or individuals
> for a start. Great environment for banking and commerce. Good
> protection of property rights. Small non-interventionist
> government.

Clearly you’ve never met “Triumph”, the Fabulous Crotch-Sniffing Caymanian Customs Wonder Dog at extreme close range, or heard the story about the expat’s college age kid, actually born on Cayman, who was literally exiled from the island when the island constabulary “discovered” a marijuana seed or three in his summer-break rental car a few years back.

I mean, his old man was some senior cheese at Global Crossing at the time, but this was back when they could do no wrong. If that’s what they did to *his* kid, imagine what some poor former junk-bond-hustler might have to deal with someday for, say, the odd unauthorized Cuban nightlife excursion. A discretely folded twenty keeps the stamp off your passport on the ground in Havana, and a bottle of Maker’s Mark goes a long way towards some interesting nocturnal diversion when you get there and all, but still, you can’t help thinking that Uncle’s going to come a-knockin’, and that Cayman van’s going to stop rockin’ some day, and when it does, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

Closer to home, conceptually at least, a couple of cryptogeeken were hustled off and strip-searched, on the spot, when they landed on Grand Cayman for the Financial Cryptography conference there a couple of years ago. Like lots of cypherpunks, these guys were active shooters in the Bay Area, and they had stopped in Jamaica, Mon, for a few days on the way to Grand Cayman. Because they, and their stuff, reeked on both counts, they were given complementary colorectal examinations and an entertaining game of 20 questions, or two, courtesy of the Caymanian Federales, after the obligatory fun and games with a then-snarling Crotch-Sniffing Caymanian Wonder Dog. Heck, I had to completely unpack *all* my stuff for a nice, well-fed Caymanian customs lady just to get *out* of the country when I left.

Besides, tax havens are being increasingly constrained as to their activities these days, because they cost the larger nation-states too much in the way of “escaped” “revenue”, or at least the perception of same in the local “free” press. Obviously, if your money “there” isn’t exchangeable into your money “here”, it kind of defeats the purpose of keeping your money “there” in the first place, giving folks like FinCEN lots of leverage when financial treaties come up for renegotiation due to changes in technology, like on-line credit-card and securities clearing, or the odd governmental or quango re-org, like they are wont to do increasingly in the EU, and the US.

As a result, the veil of secrecy went in Switzerland quite a while ago. The recent holocaust deposit thing was just the bride and groom on that particular wedding-cake, and, as goes Switzerland, so goes Luxembourg, and of course Lichtenstein, which itself is usually accessible only through Switzerland. Finally, of course, the Caymans themselves will cough up depositor lists whenever Uncle comes calling about one thing or another on an increasingly longer list of fishing pretexts.

At this point, the “legal”, state-backed pecuniary privacy pickings are kind of thin on the ground. I mean, I’m not sure I’d like to keep my money in, say, Vanuatu. Would you? Remember, this is a place where a bandana hanging on a string across an otherwise public road will close it down until the local erst-cannibal hunter-gatherer turned statutorily-permanent landowner figures out just what his new or imagined property rights are this afternoon.

The point is, any cypherpunk worth his salt will tell you that only solution to financial or any other, privacy, is to make private transactions on the net, cheaper, and more secure, than “transparent” transactions currently are in meatspace. Then things get *real* interesting, and financial privacy — and considerably more personal freedom — will just be the icing on the wedding cake. Bride and groom action figures sold separately, of course.

Cheers, RAH (Who went to FC2K at the Grand Cayman Marriott in February that year. Nice place, I liked Anguilla better though, at least at the time, and I haven’t been back to either since. The beaches are certainly better in Anguilla, and the “private” banking system there is probably just as porous as Cayman’s is, by this point. If I were to pick up and move Somewhere Free outside Your Friendly Neighborhood Unipolar Superpower, New Zealand is somewhere near the top of my list, and Chile would be next, though things change quickly out there in ballistic-missile flyover country. In that vein, who knows, maybe we’re in for some kind of latter-day Peloponnesian irony, and *Russia* will end up the freest place on earth someday. Stranger things have happened in the last couple of decades, yes?)


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  1. A. Hettinga

The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation 44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA “… however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity, [predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to experience.” — Edward Gibbon, ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’

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