The unerring power of film is again on show with ‘The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire‘. A tax documentary which highlights how the British elite have created a network of tax havens. It also shows the lengths they take to preserve it -exemplified in a chilling scene where a Jersey police officer harasses and interrupts the filmmakers’ interview with a whistleblower. And in the spirit of the film, it is now accessible to the public on YouTube.
Touring the world
The documentary has been touring the world for the last year, sparking uproar amid the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers scandals which implicated heads of state, spurred protests and resulted in the resignation of Iceland’s Prime Minister.
On the eve of the film’s one-year anniversary, the film’s makers have put the self-funded documentary online for free to make it accessible to all.
A labour of love
Director, Michael Oswald, said: ‘The Spider’s Web has always been a labour of love. I realised this was a story that impacts us all but isn’t being told -that must be told.
“After seeing people’s reactions to the film and after a lot of thought, I decided that making the film free and putting it somewhere online where people can more easily see it is the right thing to do.’
From a colonial power into a global financial power
Based on the bestseller Treasure Islands by the award-winning investigative journalist Nick Shaxson, the documentary follows Britain’s transformation from a colonial power into a global financial power.
Beginning at the demise of empire, the documentary reveals how the City of London’s financial interests created a web of offshore secrecy jurisdictions that captured wealth from across the globe and hid it behind obscure financial structures in a web of offshore islands.
Today, half of all world trade flows through secrecy jurisdictions. Up to half of those secrecy jurisdictions are under British protection. How did this come about, and what impact does it have on the world today? This is what The Spider’s Web sets out to investigate.
With contributions from whistleblowers, leading experts, academics, former insiders and campaigners for social justice, The Spider’s Web reveals how corruption and secrecy have prevailed over regulation and transparency.
Tax documentary co-producer
John Christensen, former Jersey economic advisor turned tax justice campaigner and documentary co-producer, said:
‘Born in Jersey, I witnessed the island’s transformation into an offshore satellite of the City of London.
“I worked undercover for 13 years, going from one of the global Big Four accounting firms to being appointed economic adviser to the government of Jersey.
“Along the way I spoke with hundreds of bankers, lawyers, accountants, officials from the senior Whitehall departments, at the OECD in Paris, and the IMF in Washington, seeing first-hand the downright criminality of the pinstripe infrastructure of professionals who operate from secrecy jurisdictions like Jersey.
‘The City of London continues to play a key role in looting poorer countries and enabling corruption, tax dodging and money laundering on a massive, international scale -this film will make sure people know about it.’
The tax documentary The Spider’s Web has gained recognition from the Investigative Film Festival Skopje, the Berlin Around International Film Festival, the Manifesto Film Festival and the XV Cine Pobre Film Festival.
A follow up to the film, ‘The End of Democracy: The Rise of the Corporate State’, is currently in production. For more information, and to support the film, visit: https://www.patreon.com/independentdocumentary
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