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The Luxembourg "system"

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article about the figure of Luxembourg in the TI Barometer : 6% of respondents admitted they paid a bribe to obtain a service, which is the highest figure in Western Europe. As I wrote this figure only takes into account money corruption but not other situations that can be met everywhere but that are both particularly common and visible in Luxembourg:


There are many associations in Luxembourg, but the center is very small so everybody meets in the same associations and when there is an issue involving a member a couple of phone calls to fellow member may help to hush up the issue. Everybody in the network knows the issue but there is no need to repudiate the bad professional that is supported by the group. To consolidate the support fellow members may knowingly join a board with the member in question. The problem in Luxembourg is that it is visible because of the small size, which is not the case in a bigger country where the bad professional may move up to another state to join the same kind of association but with new fellow members.


This situation is met when people do not do their duty because they fear for their job. This is particularly verified
- for internal auditors and compliance officers because of the subordination in the framework of the employment contract,
- for external auditors because of the business contract especially in a country where the leader of audit focuses on its growth and clients' confidence (not stakeholders'), which is not compatible with international professional provisions relating to audit ethics. This situation may explain the reason why there are so few declarations of suspicion (only 4) from auditors, which was considered suspect by the CRF, the Luxembourg FIU (Cf. for example Report 2003-2004, page 8 , were the number of 3 (close to 4) was said "ridiculously low for a profession composed of 304 members individual and having access to all the financial information of the center")


This last type of situation is met when people may hesitate to do or do not at all do their duty because they do not want to involve people that gain a professional standing because of professional, political or academic supports (in a board, in an association...). In other word, the will is to protect the frontage of the reputation of the center and its professional in any case. This is particularly verified
- for the media that have a public financing and globally do not have the culture to criticise the "system" and to tighten up the ship (even though there are exceptions),
- for justice, that lacks means (Cf. report "Petita Pro Nova Justitia" issued by the Cercle Joseph Bech), .a perfect illustration of this problem being the delay to judge sensitive affairs (e.g. the case of the former chairman of the Chambre des Comptes since 1999) or the restrictive conception of the freedom of expression that deny the right to bring evidence (s) when the behaviour of a leader of the center is criticised by considering the statement(s) as "value judgement" (Cf. Judge Sajô's analysis in a recent judgement from the CEDH, the “the Court of Human Rights for Europe”, involving Luxembourg(No 24261/05, BACKES v. LUXEMBOURG, 8 July 2008).

In a nutshell, at a time when tax haven are more and more contested and especially banking secrecy rules, corrective actions for the sake of the Luxembourg financial center are impossible. This functioning is what is called locally the "system" and is the reason why people that do not comply with the requirements of professional standing and experience (with the meaning of competence), as stated Law of 5 April 1993 on the financial sector, are not repudiated when those who dare to question are.

The problem is when there is an accumulation of "red flags" are unfortunately observed in public and official sources all the more than Luxembourg is a small center.

But fortunately, as explains a professional in Luxembourg, the center gathers the advantages of an on shore jurisdiction because it is in Europe and the advantages of off shore states taxes of which are similar to a tax haven.
Additionnaly the country is in the good books with the FATF thanks to a generous grant for the financing of FATF IT systems, that is mentioned in the FATF 2006-2007 annual report (paragraph 54 page 17) unless it is definitely not compatible with the role of auditor of the FATF, state members being like auditees, all the more than the FATF has its proper funding as described paragraph 55 of the same report.

The "system" can go on and the international speech against corruption, fraude or money laundering is a charade.

06:50 Posted in Luxembourg | Permalink | Comments (0)

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