The Financial Secrecy Index (FSI) was launched in November 2015 to provide a ranking of jurisdictions according to their secrecy and the scale of their offshore financial activities. Designed to be politically neutral, the focus of the tool is to expand our understanding of global financial secrecy, tax havens or secrecy jurisdictions, and illicit financial flows or capital flight.
The FSI uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative data to create a single measure of each jurisdiction’s contribution to the global problem of financial secrecy:
Qualitative data - the Secrecy Score. This information is drawn from laws, regulations, cooperation with information exchange processes and other verifiable data sources, to develop a secrecy score for each jurisdiction. Secrecy jurisdictions with the highest secrecy scores are more opaque in the operations they host, less engaged in information sharing with other national authorities and less compliant with international norms relating to combating money-laundering. Lack of transparency and unwillingness to engage in effective information exchange makes a secrecy jurisdiction a more attractive location for routing illicit financial flows and for concealing criminal and corrupt activities.
The top 20 most secretive jurisdictions - all scoring 75 or higher - are dominated by small island countries in the South Pacific and Oceania all the way to the Caribbean. Some large economies, such as the United Arab Emirates, also member among this secretive group.
Quantitative data - the Global Scale Weighting. The share of each jurisdiction's offshore financial services export activity in the global total is transformed into the global scale weighting. To do this, the FSI team uses publicly available data about the trade in international financial services of each jurisdiction. As necessary because of missing data, the FSI team follows the IMF methodology to extrapolate from stock measures to generate flow estimates. Jurisdictions with the largest weighting are those that play the biggest role in the market for financial services offered to non-residents.
It terms of offshore financial services exports, the US is the unsurpising leader at roughly 20 percent of the global total. Other than the US, only the UK and Luxembourg exceed more than a 10 percent share with 17.4 and 11.6 percent, respectively.
Read more about offshore entities and tax havens in our recent Viz of the Day about the Panama Papers.