February 28, 2014

Capitals of ordinary citizens should also have rights to political asylum.

Sir I refer to your “Close the account on Swiss secrecy” February 28. If I wanted to be politically correct, I guess I would have to loudly shout out a “Hear, hear!”

BUT, I need to add that in the same vein there is political asylum granted for people being persecuted in their homeland, there should also be asylum rights granted to capital when these are being persecuted, beyond reason. Otherwise the closing down of a possibility to hold secret accounts seems a bit like a wet dream of a Global Sheriffs of Nottingham mutual admiration club.

I have no firm idea of how to go about it, but perhaps there could be a Global Council of Citizens, in front of which a citizen could anonymously make a specific country based appeal. When? Perhaps when taxation becomes too high, let us say over 50%; when the government role in the economy becomes too high, let us say 40% of GDP; or when there are notoriously public displays of government waste.

But of course, the capitals of anyone who has held a government office within a period, like for instance the last 20 years, should possess no such rights.

Really, is there anything to be gained by retaining all capitals of all citizens in a country, if all that means is that the capital gets all wasted?

I remember when my country, Venezuela, in February 1983 woke up to a huge financial disaster, mainly as a consequence of the government having acquired too much debt and keeping the Bolívar from devaluing too long. At that moment most politicians swore that the cause of it all was capital flight, and this even when they all must have known that had there been no capital flight, it would all have been wasted. The truth is that the capital reserves built up abroad by some Venezuelans, by quite a few in fact, then allowed Venezuela to recover fairly fast from the disaster… unfortunately only to start the buildup of the next one.

Also, FT, do you really want to close Switzerland down as a haven for secret capital flight when that might only mean promoting other deeper and darker havens?

PS. Granted you might not really know what it is to be living in countries like Zimbabwe.

PS. I recently ended and Op-Ed in my country with the following PS: “In a country in which all those here described injustices are committed, and many more, and on top of it all they print out monstrous amounts of inorganic Bolivars without caring about the inflation that will cause, one could ask: Is not capital flight sometimes a citizen's moral obligation… towards his own nation?