Nicholas Shaxson’s “Treasure Islands” had been on my reading list for many years, by the time I finally picked it up I did so not expecting that it would take me on a journey to a documentary. Tax Havens and financial secrecy are never out of the press these days, and so when I made contact with Nicholas Shaxson to see if he would be willing to take part in yet another documentary on the topic he replied he would but diplomatically added that, “the field is slowly becoming more crowded.” After reading “Treasure Islands,” I realized that there was an interesting, coherent and self-contained story that had not been told, the story of Britain’s transformation from a colonial power to a financial power, and the myriad and obscure financial structures created by City of London financial interests that lie at the heart of this transformation. Today, Britain and its dependencies are by far the largest global player in the world of financial secrecy and international finance. This documentary explores how Britain came to hold this position and what impact this has had on Britain and the world.
After 4 months of research and writing, the various parts of the story began to fall into place. It also became apparent that there was one person who had already figured out the story, that person was John Christensen, a former economic adviser to Jersey and the co-founder of the Tax Justice Network. John Christensen agreed to be a producer on this film and his expertise and experience have been invaluable in its production.
I’d also like to give special thanks to Sean Boucher who spent 4 months working with me and wrote the majority of the soundtrack, and Executive
Producer Simeon Roberts who will make sure the film reaches the widest possible audience. It would take too long to individually thank every person who contributed to the film, or the numerous translators who will be making the film available in their respective languages. This film received no funding, it is thanks to everyone who was willing to give their time and expertise that its creation was possible. We sent hundreds of emails to broadcasters and funding bodies, but not a single one deemed the film worthy of support. We disagree, we think this film is interesting and relevant in today’s world and we hope you think so too.
In the days of Empire, Britain transferred the mineral and commodity wealth of its imperial possessions back to Britain. Britain’s tax haven empire is a modern version of this wealth extraction. Britain is a complex country where corruption is hidden behind multiple layers and those ultimately responsible are difficult to identify. I hope this film will help shine a light on part of this obscurity and contribute to the creation of a world where financial rules and regulations are to the relative benefit of all players and apply to all participants equally regardless of their position or importance.