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Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World [Paperback]

Nicholas Shaxson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 Jan 2012

Billionaire Warren Buffet, currently the third wealthiest man in the world, paid the lowest rate of tax among his office staff, including his receptionist.

In 2006 the world's three biggest banana companies did nearly £400 million worth of business in Britain but paid just £128,000 in tax between them.

In January 2009, US law enforcement fined Lloyds TSB $350 million after it admitted secretly channelling Iranian and Sudanese money into the US banking system.

Tax havens are the most important single reason why poor people and poor countries stay poor. They lie at the very heart of the global economy, with over half the world trade processed through them. They have been instrumental in nearly every major economic event, in every big financial scandal, and in every financial crisis since the 1970s, including the latest global economic downturn.

In Treasure Islands, Nicholas Shaxson shows how this happened, and what this means for you.

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Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World + The Great Tax Robbery: How Britain Became A Tax Haven For Fat Cats And Big Business + Planet Ponzi
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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (5 Jan 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099541726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099541721
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Perhaps the most important book published in the UK so far this year" (George Monbiot Guardian)


Trade and investments can play a profoundly productive role on the world economy. But so much of the capital flows that we see are associated with money laundering, tax evasion, and the wholesale larceny of assets often of very poor countries. These thefts are greatly facilitated by special tax and accounting rules or designed to "attract capital" and embodying obscure and opaque mechanisms. Shaxson does an outstanding and socially valuable job in penetrating the impenetrable and finds a deeply shocking world

" (Nicholas Stern)

"At last, a readable - indeed gripping - book which explains the nuts and bolts of tax havens. More importantly, it lays bare the mechanism that financial capital has been using to stay in charge: capturing government policy-making around the world, shaking off such irritants as democracy and the rule of law, and making sure that suckers like you and me pay for its operators' opulent lifestyles" (Misha Glenny, author of McMafia)

"The struggle against money power is a struggle for human freedom, and Nicholas Shaxson's investigation is a timely exposé of where the plunder is buried" (John Pilger, broadcaster and author of Heroes)

"A gripping read... an account illuminated by anecdotes that are often more James Bond than eurobond... Shaxson shows us that the global financial machine is broken and that very few of us have noticed" (New Statesman)

Book Description

This is the ugliest chapter in global economic affairs since slavery - and secretive offshore tax havens are at the heart of the trouble.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be put off 7 Oct 2012
Despite the lurid cover and the tabloid-style blurbs written entirely in shouting upper-case text, this turns out to be a fascinating and important book, full of well-researched information, which for the most part the author presents in a straightforward style.

Occasionally he goes a bit overboard with dramatic effect, and inevitably with this kind of book there is a fair bit of repetition of points, but generally I found this well written and all too believable. The message, in a nutshell, is that the financial interests of a very rich, very small minority, mostly bankers based in the City and in Wall Street, have fixed things so they grab more and more of the world's wealth, while the rest of us get less and less.
They do this by putting their business and their money in offshore tax havens, sometimes legally and sometimes not, and often on some fuzzy ground in between. It is tolerated by governments because those governments are often the same people, or very close to them.

I know enough about the subject to know that, although some of it might seem hard to believe, the author is presenting us with facts that for the most part can't be disputed. This massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, or more accurately the middle classes to the very rich, is a global scandal, and has reached these proportions only because it all goes on outside the jurisdiction of true democracy. Everyone should read this book and at least see what is going on here, because it affects us all.
It's just a pity the publishers gave it such a dumb cover (TAX HAVENS AND THE MEN WHO STOLE THE WORLD!!!!). Just ignore the hype and get to the story.
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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important Book 10 April 2012
This is a well written and deeply informative book. the trouble is it will also upset you as you read it with an increasing sense of anger that this is allowed and encouraged. Of course Amazon is also a well known culprit of offshore practices (e.g. Luxembourg) so I will not be buying anything from them again. So please get this book, but not from Amazon unless you have a sense of irony.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must be read 2 Oct 2012
If anyone thought that the very rich had some semblance of altruism. Read this and be corrected. There is enough money stored in offshore locations to make the world a much better place but the money sits in secret accounts doing nothing and this book spells it out.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Home truths 16 Jan 2013
By Help
I guess Amazon themselves must have read this more as a guide to tax management rather than the brilliant critique of modern international taxation that it is.

As a reminder, Amazon, made sales of 2.9 billion in the UK last year. But because all Amazon UK book sales are routed through its Luxembourg subsidiary, it does not pay any UK corporation tax on the profits from those sales.

Buy this book. But from your local bookshop, eh?

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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's gone wrong..... 24 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Nicholas Shaxon has written an excellent, well referenced , substantive book on how the money system works. Governments collude with financiers, and business interests, to make and take easy options for the benefit of the wealthy. The book is truly a revelation, and does much to explain how the sub prime crisis in the US morphed inexorably as institutions wrapped their packages in ever more complex instruments, built on an avalanche of cheap money. Shocking, un-putdownable, a brilliant piece of writing. Every Economics student should read this book. It should be mandatory for all Bankers and Financial Investment people to read and understand the immorality of their profession.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why we need to Eliminate Tax Havens 7 Oct 2012
A detailed but readable book on the shadowy world of tax havens. Very scary stuff! The chapter about the City of London is a big eye opener
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47 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not fair 12 Jan 2011
By smudge
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Shocking (the subject matter not the book itself!). Page after page of information about people cheating the system (forget small-fry benefit fraudsters here). Well written and informative and a book to make your teeth gnash.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You will love and hate it at the same time 24 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase
This has to probably be the best audio book I have ever listened to.
The narration is first class and should be used as a guide for other books on how to read a book.
Not only is it a good explanation of how offshore started and how it's got to where it is today but it tells it in a way which makes it easy to visualise and keeps you wanting to know more. I enjoyed getting all the historical background to how each of the countries fell into offshore and the players which made it happen. Fascinating.

One word of warning, I got halfway through reading the book and I had to put it down because I was getting so pissed off with the world and the way it works so expect to get a bit annoyed from time to time.
It didn't take long to pick it up again as its better to be informed than not.

My best audio book to date.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The importance of this book cannot be understated
This is no rant about a few greedy people sticking their money in the Caymans to get around the IRS, but a full-blown expose of the most insidious and least understood sector of... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting
I got recommended this book. I would definitely recommend to others.

So much information! The information in this book is just mindblowing. Read more
Published 19 days ago by TAMxx
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Thought I knew a bit about offshore shenanigans but this book filled in a lot of gaps and the rather pathetic situation e find ourselves in. Warning ! Read more
Published 25 days ago by Ian Greenhalgh
4.0 out of 5 stars reasons to get angry
Easy to read and essential information. We all know we are being robbed by big finance, we're just not sure how. Read this and seize the means to fight back
Published 2 months ago by Kevin Treweeks
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful
A remarkable collection of evidence coupled with well reasoned arguments. I commend Nicholas Shaxson for his courage to put this in printing format. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Giorgio Federico
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite a read!
Everyone needs to read this as it is so very interesting and informative!
The book reveals lots of interesting pieces
Published 3 months ago by riley
5.0 out of 5 stars A must to read it
interesting reading which gives a good panoramic of the offshore world and its origins... very good insights about UK and US, the 2 greatest tax haven of the world...
Published 5 months ago by William Imbrogno
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible read.
Possibly the most important book on the causes of the current financial problems in the west. I thought it was brilliant. Well done Nicholas Shaxson you are a brave man.
Published 7 months ago by Miss Grace Wilkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars No Tax the way forward.
Amazon obviously read this excellent book which is why it paid very little UK Tax for the last three years. Well done. I'm doing the same. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Doc B
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone concerned about the present economic and...
Ruth Stoke's book, 'The Armchair Activist's Handbook', has made me think quite seriously about my approach to community activism. Read more
Published 8 months ago by L. Baker
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