First, a little mood music from the Fab Four:Now, on with the show. Via the comments section at BoRev’s piece on the Stanford Bank caper, I happened across this little item in Forbes, and in it, this:
$2.5 billion? Whoa. That’s a shitload of chump change. Allen Stanford (recently found by the FBI in Virginia, perhaps planning his great escape) stands accused of absconding with at least $8 billion. That means rich Venezuelans–the educated upper classes, y’know–were dumb enough to hand over to this slimeball more than a quarter of the money he can no longer account for. Which leads me rather nicely back to our theme song. Why would these chumps stash such a large chunk of change in an offshore bank in beautiful Antigua? Tax evasion, por supuesto. Their chief beef with Chavecito isn’t dictatorship or repression; it’s the fact that under him, the Venezuelan equivalent of the IRS, SENIAT, has become a highly effective tax-collecting machine. Those who don’t pay up, get shut down–just ask the large number of businesses (domestic AND foreign) they’ve temporarily shuttered for nonpayment. So of course, it stands to reason that the rich would like to keep their riches away from SENIAT’s prying eyes (and fingers.) Hence, Antigua–and Stanford. Perhaps they figured that this gringo would be their perfect accomplice in the tax-evasion game. A jet-setting Texan, after all, would not harbor much fondness for the ‘Cito, either…but for money, oh yes. Very much so.Too much so, it turns out. And guess who lost out? Yep: The old ruling classes. Too bad they went offshore; if they’d kept that money in the Stanford Bank in Venezuela, they would at least enjoy government protection of their deposits right now. Yep, that’s right: The government they hate would actually be serving them, along with all the other Venezuelan depositors in the Stanford International Bank’s local branches. Instead, they’re out $2.5 billion US. And heaven only knows if they’ll ever see any of it again. Painful to contemplate, isn’t it?Escualidos, a word of friendly advice to you: Don’t try to evade the taxman. You could end up losing it all to someone far, far worse. The cost of living in a decent country is contributing your fair share to its upkeep; if you do, you also benefit. The cost of not doing so is…well, now you know. The moral of the story? Pay up and knock off the nonsense.PS: Oh man, it’s even crazier than we knew. Now these rich fools are blaming Chavecito for driving them into a fraudster’s arms. How fucking nuts can you get?
A group of wealthy Venezuelans also holds $2.5 billion in assets at Stanford International Bank in Antigua, but their investments are outside the purview of Venezuelan law and will not be protected by Caracas, Banking Superintendent Edgar Hernandez said Wednesday.