Thursday, October 30, 2014

Who sold ISIS all those Toyotas?

Could it have been a Cayman company? Not directly, of course – dear me, no! But those who understand how offshore tax-havens work, recognize very clearly the advantages of channeling dodgy transactions through several jurisdictions in order to hide the paper-trail. A hot transaction like a fleet of Toyotas probably involved at least three offshore havens, plus a few onshore conduits like London and New York.

You have to feel sorry for the Toyota public-relations people. It wouldn’t have been they who did the deal. Or the marketing people. Yes, a sale is a sale, and Toyota pickups are ideal for dusty desert roads. But, enough already!

They’re extremely well built, Toyotas, and ideal for conversion to weapons of mobility in war zones. The ISIS ones look to have been modified according to US “Special Forces” specs, with speedy and heavy-duty off-road capabilities – and machine-gun mountings. Not the kind of vehicles evil revolutionaries could have bought in their local souk.

Did the Special Forces (CIA, specialist Marine units and the like) simply give ISIS some of their old vehicles left over from other US-sponsored conflicts in the Moslem world – or, worse, order Toyota’s US manufacturing plants to ship them directly to ISIS? No, no: that’s not how things are done in this electronic age.

Did some ISIS fifth-columnist in Texas buy a fleet from his local Toyota dealer and convert them in his back yard? Or, even, have the Toyota factory in San Antone or Tijuana make the required modifications? No: also unlikely.

Actually, it’s a mystery – and one that the Western MSM organs will turn a blind eye to, if they want to keep their advertisers, and their access to their political favourites. It would be interesting to know which offshore tax-havens were used in the transaction – from the initial purchase to the shipping and trans-shipping to the ultimate transfer of title- but we will probably never know.

A tax-haven professional from Cayman was once greeted warmly at a business luncheon in Brazil with the words, “Ah, the Cayman Islands… Brazil’s Number One supplier of oil!” As it was, technically, and may still be. Cayman-registered companies may still be the ultimate owners of most oil shipments to Brazil.

Maybe some Cayman-registered company is ISIS’s Number One supplier of Toyota trucks today. Who knows?

If you Google “Offshore tax-havens – what they do” (with the quotation marks), what comes up is a direct link to an item I posted on my blog in January last year. (If you do it without the quotation marks, it brings up a Wikipedia entry.) My blog-post doesn’t explain everything, but it gives the gist. There are other blog-posts in my Archive on the same general subject, usually identifiable by their titles. Though not always. “Lunching with the stars” – also Googleable – reminiscences about my life as a trust officer in Nassau.

Offshore jurisdictions are where exporters divert their profits to, mostly because profits are not taxed there. Title to international cargo can change a dozen times on a single voyage, as speculators buy and sell the goods or options on the goods. Sometimes, as with the ISIS Toyotas, profits are much less of a factor than secrecy.

The companies and security-agencies of any nation don’t want to be identified as the seller of sharp knives to the beheaders of Western citizens. The sellers all have their favourite tax-havens, of course. Cayman’s coterie of clever lawyers and bankers must make it popular with many of them. Not that our regulators would knowingly help anybody to ship weapons to known terrorists, even Western governments’ security-agencies. National security-agencies play their cards very close to their chests.

Actually, it is an open question as to whether ISIS are the anti-Western terrorists they are held out to be. I mean… if they are allowed to acquire the CIA’s specially modified Toyotas, they are actually among the Agency’s sub-agents, aren’t they? Every Western security-agency has its own favourite rebel group, just like it has its own favourite tax-haven. The Western MSM’s reluctance to enquire how ISIS did acquire its Toyotas speaks volumes.