Monday, April 11, 2005

guernsey: the terrorist's friend

Remember when British mercenary Simon Mann was nicked in Zimbabwe en route to attempt a coup in Equatorial Guinea? (If your memory wants refreshing, read this).

He said he was 'only' on his way to run the security at a diamond mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mineral mining there is a brutal military operation, the engine of the biggest war on earth since World War Two.

Mann and cohorts have, in fact, run mercenary military operations to change regimes in a variety of countries in order to take hefty chunks of the mineral resources on the lands under dispute. Whether it be oil in Angola, copper in Bougainville or more oil in Equatorial Guinea, these people are the new colonialists; wealthy Europeans killing people in poor countries in order to take their natural resources.

Mann has business bank accounts at the Royal Bank of Scotland International in Guernsey.

Guernsey has the peculiar status of 'British dependency'. As if the UK wasn't already constiutionally confused enough (why do we play football and rugby as four countries, yet go to the olympics as one team? And why is that team called Team GB when GB is only three of the four nations?).

'Dependency' is the status of several places like the Isle of Man and Guernsey's fellow Channel Islands. It's a closer integration than 'dependent overseas territories' like the assortment of islands around the globe we still have a hand in, but it's still sort of independent. They get to set their own tax laws and the like.

That doesn't affect ordinary people directly, excepting those who've sussed that it's cheaper to buy from Amazon Jersey than Amazon.co.uk. But if you're filthy rich, and especially if you're an international terrorist with a respectable facade, such places are essential to make sure your dodgy money is kept out of the usual paper trails.

This week, the Guernsey Court of Appeal has overturned the decision to allow the government of Equatorial Guinea access to Mann's account records and safe deposit boxes. The records are believed to show who financed and organised Mann's attempted coup against them.

Financiers included Jeffrey Archer (who 'denied' it with a solicitor's statement saying he'd never personally met Mann, but didn't address the question of why Mann's account had $134,000 paid in by one JH Archer). Also accused are numerous other British citizens, and indeed it seems the coup was planned here.

In deciding not to allow Equatorial Guinea access to the records, Guernsey's appeal court is effectively saying it's got nothing to do with Equatorial Guinea, that they believe Mann's claim that he was on the way to DRC rather than the coup in Equatorial Guinea.

Which is odd because other people involved in the operation - including 'Sir' Mark Thatcher - were prosecuted in South Africa, and they admitted it was indeed a coup against Equatorial Guinea and were convicted accordingly.

Basically, the court is saying that Mann is one of ours and so we have to help him out, even if we hold the evidence that he is an international terrorist who contravenes the Geneva Convention.

As if to prove they were sticking their fingers in their ears and going la la la, the court said they were unaware of any UK criminal investigation into the affair, despite the widely reported inquiry currently being conducted by the British Anti-Terrorist Branch.

They have to say this because if they were to release Mann's records it would make anyone else taking advantage of Guernsey's financial rules - criticised by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development for lack of transparency and 'harmful' tax practices - get very worried.

If Guernsey loses its appeal to tax exiles and business scammers then it loses the overwhelming majority of its economic life. The financial sector employs 20% of Guernsey's population and is 60% of its GDP.

There's serious talk on those islands of becoming separate independent countries rather than comply with British financial laws.

So instead of scaring its rich residents with the prospect of making them subject to the same laws as the rest of us, Guernsey's establishment lines up behind Simon Mann and they become the newest in the list of people prepared to help mercenary killers for their own financial gain.

1 comment:

leesun said...

loved the post. LOVED it. bravo. keep up the good work! :)

ps i'm serious. i'm not taking the mick.