What is the Financial Secrecy Index?

The 2015 Financial Secrecy Index (FSI) focuses on 92 jurisdictions, including several that are not traditionally considered to be tax havens, such as China, France, Germany and Japan.

Secrecy jurisdictions set up laws and systems which provide legal and financial secrecy to others, elsewhere. Our index shows that there is no clear dividing line between "secrecy jurisdictions" (or tax havens) and others. They exist on a wide spectrum.

The FSI measures two things, one qualitative and one quantitative.

The qualitative measure looks at a jurisdiction’s laws and regulations, international treaties, and so on, to assess how secretive it is. It gets assigned a secrecy score: the higher the score, the more secretive the jurisdiction.

The second, quantitative, measurement attaches a weighting to take account of the jurisdiction’s size and overall importance the global market for offshore financial services.

We explain the weighting here; full details of our methodology are here; and we provide full details of how we calculate each secrecy indicator here.

Separate reports for each country

Each jurisdiction also has two stand-alone reports associated with it.

First, the country reports provide a basic overview of that jurisdiction, highlighting its most important features from a secrecy perspective. For each of the bigger jurisdictions, we have also written detailed special reports looking at the political history of how that jurisdiction became an offshore financial centre. A list of all country reports is here.

Second, the database reports supplement the country reports and are designed for detailed research. They contain a much fuller range of variables and data collected for each jurisdiction, with detailed sources and references: all the underlying data required for compiling the country reports, plus many other details - including quotations from international organisations on the financial, tax and money laundering regulations of each jurisdiction. A full list of database reports is here.

Although the methodology for the 2015 FSI ranking is roughly the same as for the 2013 FSI, we have tightened and updated it in several respects, and we include more jurisdictions (92 now versus 82 in 2013). So some caution is warranted when comparing performance or ranking of any countries between the two indices.

The FSI has a fundamental difference from rankings that focus on identifying corruption and governance problems within countries. (This is one of the aspects that makes it unique.) Because the core business of secrecy jurisdictions is typically to facilitate criminal and abusive activities carried out elsewhere, in a world of global financial movements it makes no sense for us to focus only on what happens inside individual jurisdictions. So financial secrecy has to be analysed from a global perspective.

The 2015 FSI ranks the jurisdictions most to blame for supplying financial secrecy, and provides pointers for global action.