Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

Bank secrecy at stake

August 8, 2007

The Bolivian President, Mr. Evo Morales, on August 6 announced a universal crusade to put an end to the bank secret protecting account holders. The plan would mean a total exposure of account movements to anybody´s eyes. The idea came during a 3-plus hour long State of the Nation address in Sucre, the country´s constitutional capital, at an extraordinary congress session to pay homage to Bolivia´s national day. It won an outstanding applause from Mr. Morales followers but others in the congress audience raised brows. Mr. Morales grinned: “I don´t want to think that those who do not applaud me surely have bank accounts,” he said. Had somebody advised Mr. Morales properly, he would have known that no bank on earth would accept his supremely non sense initiative__ assuming he will propose it formally (where? And to who? What about a trip to Switzerland to meet UBS board?). No bank will shoot in its own heart. They should have told him that existing laws allow judges to order disclosing accounts under specific reasons. But that is far from making it universal. However, if Mr. Morales insists, it would be good to start at home: let´s have all Bolivian state-owned agencies to became transparent all the way. Let´s have chief holders (Comibol, YPFB, Central Bank, Ministries, Armed Forces, India´s Jindal etc.), including authorities and all government-paid officers, to open their accounts with no restrictions. Even better: let´s create and make public usernames and passwords of institutions and officials so that anyone could see them. How do you think they will react? Things get a little confused when one recalls that, only a few days before, Mr. Morales had said he expected Bolivia would equal Switzerland in about 15 years. Or that by 2022 Bolivians would enjoy at least similar standard of living of Swiss citizens, education, healthcare, punctuality in all public transportation networks, etc. And, of course, would also become adamant defenders of bank secrecy. The idea is baseless but it has the merit of at least showing Mr. Morales´ financial expertise. And, overall, that of his aides. Because if Mr. Morales has no financial education, his aides should know better. Supposedly the move would help detecting money-laundering, drug-trafficking originated money, but aides should know there are international treaties to fight money-laundering and eventually disclosing accounts. As to drugs, most reliable reports say coca plantations areas are expanding and illegal coca processing is increasing.