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Offshore financial centers, Developing countries, Caribbean, Global Governors, Social costs, Neocolonialism, Disparate impact


Global governance architecture, crafted by wealthy nations, has perpetuated the subordination of developing jurisdictions. The Article offers a novel and surprising analysis of governance tools used by wealthy countries and inter-governmental organizations to constrain offshore financial centers (OFCs) by focusing on the tools’ disparate impacts on tax havens whose populations comprise predominantly Black and Brown people. With tax haven issues garnering increasing attention, this Article provides a pathbreaking conceptual framework for examining the international tax, crime, and business discourse on OFCs. It also illuminates how the actions of powerful international actors, such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the European Union (EU), risk exacerbating the subordination of marginalized jurisdictions.

This Article makes four core contributions to the OFC literature. First, it argues that the current global governance architecture that is premised on the containment and eventual elimination of OFCs inflicts harms disproportionately on small developing countries, such as post-colonial jurisdictions and overseas territories. This approach uses a “hatchet” method that focuses on blunt instruments such as economic coercion and “lists” of non-cooperating jurisdictions to uniformly constrain a diverse set of jurisdictions. This uniform approach ignores the differences between wealthier, developed, and politically influential countries like Switzerland, on one hand, and developing, post-colonial jurisdictions like Barbados, on the other hand. A more nuanced, targeted “scalpel” approach would identify differences between jurisdictions and employ tools that cause the least harm to more vulnerable locales.

Second, this Article explains that global governance “lists” that “name and shame” jurisdictions fail to adequately consider how small countries conceptualize and use their limited administrative capabilities for economic development. Third, it highlights how offshore financial services help to build judicial capacity in some smaller developing jurisdictions. Finally, it notes that the offshore financial services sector can be a source of economic identity for the communities within some of these jurisdictions and discusses the implications of this complicating factor for the pursuit of global governance agendas.

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Boston College Law Review


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