the days of the British Empire, London served as the
world's most impressive financial center.
the empire began its decline, anti-colonial sentiment
became more rampant and greater numbers of British
territories began to strive for independence.
financial stronghold of its capital city began to
deteriorate as well.
Spider's Web: Britain's Second Empire' recounts how the
country transformed to become a global financial power
in the face of these challenges, and how their continued
prominence shapes the world we live in today.
The City of London banking network began constructing a
web of overseas jurisdictions in the wake of the
empire's demise, and hid these monies offshore where
they were sheltered from meaningful outside scrutiny.
started to indulge in unregulated forms of lending using
wealth was accumulated through any means necessary,
including a laundry list of nefarious acts of fraud, tax
evasion, drugs and arms trading, and additional covert
a system rife with corruption.
of the money was stripped from poor countries, depriving
these struggling economies of their capacity for badly
needed growth and infrastructure development.
Throughout the film, we are presented with a tale of two
is the bustling epicenter much romanticized by the
United States and other parts of the world while the
other is a freewheeling market run by elite business
players who cleverly shirk the gaze of international
"In Britain, bankers are a protected species,"
confesses one interview subject who is part of a
chorus of whistle-blowers, financial insiders and
social justice activists who populate the film.
are told that as much as $50 trillion dollars reside in
overseas accounts that act as tax havens; many of the
most robust of these havens are British.
The end result is a system that works to benefit the
Meanwhile, the hard-working taxpaying citizens continue
to struggle and suffer.
Featuring a collage of authentic newsreel footage and
insights from a team of top financial investigators,
'The Spider's Web: Britain's Second Empire' is
immaculately researched and well presented portrait of a
complex global conspiracy.
Spider's Web: Britain's Second Empire,' is a documentary
film that shows how Britain transformed from a colonial
power into a global financial power.
At the demise of
empire, City of London 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, up to half of global offshore wealth may be
hidden in British offshore jurisdictions and Britain and
its offshore jurisdictions are the largest global
players in the world of international finance.
this come about, and what impact does it have on the
This is what the Spider's Web sets out to
With contributions from leading experts, academics,
former insiders and campaigners for social justice, the
use of stylized b-roll and archive footage, the Spider's
Web reveals how in the world of international finance,
corruption and secrecy have prevailed over regulation
and transparency, and the UK is right at the heart of
Nicholas Shaxson's "Treasure Islands" had been on my
reading list for many years, by the time I finally
picked it up I did so not expecting that it would take
me on a journey to a documentary.
Tax Havens and
financial secrecy are never out of the press these days,
and so when I made contact with Nicholas Shaxson to see
if he would be willing to take part in yet another
documentary on the topic he replied he would but
diplomatically added that,
"the field is slowly becoming
"Treasure Islands," I
realized that there was an interesting, coherent and
self-contained story that had not been told, the story
of Britain's transformation from a colonial power to a
financial power, and the myriad and obscure financial
structures created by City of London financial interests
that lie at the heart of this transformation.
Britain and its dependencies are by far the largest
global player in the world of financial secrecy and
This documentary explores how
Britain came to hold this position and what impact this
has had on Britain and the world.
After 4 months of research and writing, the various
parts of the story began to fall into place. It also
became apparent that there was one person who had
already figured out the story, that person was John
Christensen, a former economic adviser to Jersey and the
co-founder of the
Tax Justice Network.
agreed to be a producer on this film and his expertise
and experience have been invaluable in its production.
I'd also like to give special thanks to Sean Boucher who
spent 4 months working with me and wrote the majority of
the soundtrack, and Executive
Simeon Roberts who will make sure the film
reaches the widest possible audience.
It would take too
long to individually thank every person who contributed
to the film, or the numerous translators who will be
making the film available in their respective languages.
This film received no funding, it is thanks to everyone
who was willing to give their time and expertise that
its creation was possible.
We sent hundreds of emails to
broadcasters and funding bodies, but not a single one
deemed the film worthy of support.
We disagree, we think
this film is interesting and relevant in today's world
and we hope you think so too.
In the days of Empire, Britain transferred the mineral
and commodity wealth of its imperial possessions back to
Britain's tax haven empire is a modern version
of this wealth extraction.
Britain is a complex country
where corruption is hidden behind multiple layers and
those ultimately responsible are difficult to identify.
I hope this film will help shine a light on part of this
obscurity and contribute to the creation of a world
where financial rules and regulations are to the
relative benefit of all players and apply to all
participants equally regardless of their position or