Please read this outstanding and very interesting article from the New York Times Magazine (below).
This is one of the most fascinating and well written articles I have ever read.
In a pile of mail was a statement from a bank in Luxembourg showing an account with at least $30 million in cash. She had never seen it before. There were two laptops — one with baby photos of their younger daughter, which she set aside. In a cupboard were documents concerning not only Xacti, the internet company she and Oesterlund had built, but also oddly named corporations in other states and countries. Finally, there was a statement from their accounting firm. She had never seen that before, either. The accountants seemed to think her husband was worth at least $300 million.
But even as Pursglove was repacking her suitcase for the flight home, her family’s fortune was vanishing into an almost impenetrable array of shell companies, bank accounts and trusts, part of a worldwide financial system catering exclusively to the very wealthy. In recent decades, this system has become astonishingly effective at “offshoring” wealth — detaching assets, through complex layers of ownership and legal planning, from their actual owners, often by hiding them in another country. Created by lawyers, accountants and private bankers and operating out of a global archipelago of European principalities, former British colonies and Asian city-states, the system has one main purpose: to make the richest people in the world appear to own as little as possible.