Bermudian lawyer calls for end to bank secrecy

Leading Bermudian lawyer, Saul Froomkin QC publicly called for an end to bank secrecy laws and “shell” banks in offshore jurisdictions when he visited London last week.

The former Attorney General of Bermuda and senior partner at the Bermudian law firm Mello Hollis, Jones & Martin told delegates at Shorex Conference of Offshore Services that these banks are “a plague on the international business community.”

Froomkin has long been involved in international efforts to stamp out money laundering.

The Bermudian government will be tabling in the current parliamentary session, the proceeds of Crime Bill, which will legislate on policies and procedures relating to money laundering which have taken place in Bermuda for the last decade.

Banks are permitted to set up unchecked in a number of Caribbean and Western Pacific countries as long as they do no domestic business. They are referred to as shell banks since they have no business premises, no employees and no legitimate assets.

Froomkin said: “When one couples bank secrecy with shell banks, one has a recipe for disaster. Those who have been dealing with this plague for some years can say unequivocally that virtually every major fraud, every international drug case and every significant money laundering investigation has an element of bank secrecy or a shell bank.”