Help fund war in Africa and line the pockets of arms dealers

Nice Christmas-y thought, eh?

Alas, I don’t know how to avoid the unethical use of the money I put in the bank. Aside from paying attention to the press and leaving banks exposed for bad behaviour.

Friday before last I skipped the work Christmas party to flop out on the sofa with my housemate instead. Just back from extensive travels, she snored her way through half the movie we were watching. Which was good because it made me deepen my understanding of the complex story each time I had to sum up the really important bit she’d just missed.

banker-and-its-wife-painting-cropWhile a fictionalised account of a bank profiting out of evilness, The International, starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, clearly isn’t fiction or the work of conspiracy theorists … just open the newpaper.

Last week HSBC was fined almost $2 billion for their money laundering activities in support of the Latin American drug cartels. I hadn’t a clue whether this is a lot of money to them or not. That certainly sounded like a number that would hurt.

New York Magazine clarified things for me:

The total amount of HSBC’s settlement — $1.9 billion — is a lot of money, even for a global bank. As The Wall Street Journal points out, the settlement “could knock about 11% off the bank’s earnings for 2012.” Still, HSBC’s shares are up today, in large part because investors had anticipated a bigger penalty. Others are worried that by avoiding criminal charges, HSBC has been deemed, in the Times‘ words, “too big to indict.”

But let’s shift the focus away from the ethics of bankers and place them back onto our own behaviour. Offshore banking — why? Before I’d plucked this week’s assignment (which was to look into offshore savings accounts), the idea of finding one for myself never entered my mind.

After poking around this week I remain unenlightened as to why offshore would be attractive for someone like me. While you don’t have to be a millionaire to have enough open one, the interest rates don’t look all that exciting;  moneysupermarket gives much better rates for normal savings accounts. Is it because you don’t have to pay tax on offshore accounts? I’d wondered.

But you do.

Have to pay tax.

Perhaps, though, some people don’t. Here’s the health warning on that.

So that’s one less thing for me to worry / wonder about with respect to my money. This brief consumer summary told me all I need to know and for now, there’s no particular appeal of an offshore account.

Till tomorrow, Christmas eve, and THE FINAL COUNTING ZEROS ASSIGNMENT.

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