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Economy

A Tiny Malaysian Island Has Quietly Become A Favorite New Global Tax Haven

Since January, more than $540 billion has passed through the tax shelters of the largely unknown island of Labuan. Here's why the rich are increasingly hiding their money there.

Labuan by night
Labuan by night
Richard Werly

LABUAN — The book Izzam Shah Ariff is holding oozes opulence. The paintings reproduced in it are originally from the collection of Bank Negara Malaysia. They are by renowned local artists on the Malaysian island Labuan, and their images stretch over double pages on beautiful, high-quality paper.

On the terrace of the Financial Park, the building where banks, legal offices and insular financial intermediaries can all be found, Ariff shows the book to each visitor. “What’s missing in Labuan is an international reputation,” says the assistant director of Labuan’s Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA). “But we’re trying to change that.”

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Geopolitics

The Days After: What Would Happen If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike

The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible. The Western response would itself set off a counter-response, which might contain or spiral to the worst-case scenario.

An anti-nuclear activist impersonates Vladimir Putin at a rally in Berlin.

Yves Bourdillon

-Analysis-

PARISVladimir Putin could “go nuclear” in Ukraine. Yes, this expression, which metaphorically means “taking the extreme, drastic action,” is now literally considered a possibility as well. Cornered and humiliated by a now plausible military defeat, experts say the Kremlin could launch a tactical nuclear bomb on a Ukrainian site in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

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In any case, this is what Putin — who put Russia's nuclear forces on alert just after the start of the invasion in late February — is aiming to achieve: to terrorize populations in Western countries to push their leaders to let go of Ukraine.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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