21 May 2023 in Dossier Tax Havens, Finance


If you ask anyone which is the most corrupt country in the world, the answers will differ depending on place of birth and culture – Haiti, China, Congo, some Mediterranean or Latin American country. All false. Based on the list and volume of scandals over the last quarter century, the most corrupt country in the world has a name that hardly anyone knows, and therefore no one would ever dream of mentioning. Nauru.

Nauru is a small remote island in the Pacific Ocean. It has fewer inhabitants than Liechtenstein, and is smaller than San Marino. But over the last half-century it has managed to be first the richest country in the world (thanks to the phosphate mines, which devastated the island), and then one of the poorest and sickest. Corruption is a rule of life, everyone thinks for himself, and the government traditionally uses its vote in the UN forum to procure economic benefits for itself. But things are still bad, and not only because of the fear of a climate catastrophe. Nauru is the country in the world with the largest concentration of humanitarian and financial scandals, all of which were created to ensure, no matter what, the economic survival of its inhabitants.

The island’s land, devastated by 40 years of phosphate mining, is mostly uninhabitable and uncultivable. Basic services are lacking and job opportunities for its 12500 inhabitants are scarce. This is why the government has offered to become (for a fee) the Guantanamo of Australians: in the period between August 2012 and July 2019, the federal government in Canberra sent more than 4000 illegal immigrants to Nauru who had illegally reached Australia by sea[1] and who were not granted residence permits[2] . Such is Australia today: the number of asylum seekers granted a permit is zero[3] .

Thus, the rejected are taken to the island of Nauru. The Nauru Processing Centre is an offshore Australian detention facility, similar to a prison[4] , run by the Nauru government[5] . The highest number of detainees (1233) was recorded in August 2014, at which point detainees were repatriated to their countries of origin, including Iraq, Iran, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Lebanon[6] . In 2016, the Nauru files gruesomely recounted the lives of the detainees: systematic violence, rape, and child abuse[7] . As a result, in September 2021, the Australian government signed a new agreement with Nauru to humanize the centre for applicants[8] , as most of the detainees have been awaiting a decision for more than eight years[9] .

A similar camp, on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, was closed in 2016[10] , although some detainees are still on the island[11] , despite the fact that Australia’s policy on the treatment of illegal immigrants is constantly criticised by the United Nations[12] , international criminal tribunals[13] , human rights groups[14] and the refugees themselves[15] . Australia’s newly elected Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese[16] , promised to change his policy before his election. He did not do so[17] .

Expenditure includes departmental costs, administered operations and capital costs. Figures for 2021-2022 are up to 31 January 2022[18]

On the contrary, it has confirmed the expiring detention orders, and no one has really rebelled[19] . This is because, behind the inhuman treatment of the illegal immigrants, there is a question of money: 420 million Australian dollars ($286 million) contracted in September 2021 between the Australian government and a private US prison operator, the MTC Management and Training Corporation – accused of ‘gross negligence’ and ‘serious security failures’[20] . Of this money, a significant portion ends up in the pockets of the Nauru government, and its redistribution ensures the welfare of the island’s citizens[21] . The operators of the facility, paid by MTC, (Canstruct International Ltd. of Brisbane[22] ) receive about half a million Australian dollars per detainee per year (almost $12,000 per day) . [23]

Then there is a jumble of sub-contractors for canteen services, cleaning, transport, and who knows what else, who make good money: Broadspectrum (Australia), for example (accused of child abuse, rape, exploitation of prostitution and smuggling[24] ), a rib of the Ventia Group[25] , which grosses A$2.58 billion annually; Brisbane’s Canstruct International, which grosses A$1.41 billion; Sydney’s Canstruct, which grosses about A$650 million; IHMS International Health & Medical Services Pty Ltd Sydney, which grosses almost A$450 million, and who knows how many more[26] .

Why incur such an expense? It would seem to make more sense if Australia were to keep the asylum seekers, given that these figures (when compared to the tens of thousands arriving each year from Africa) are quite bearable, especially knowing that many of them are on resettlement routes to the United States, Canada or New Zealand[27] , or simply in light of the fact that Australian law requires the government to provide them with medical care and psychological support[28] .

The reason for this situation is twofold and trivial. On the one hand there is an electoral advantage in repressing foreigners, especially non-Aryans. On the other, this opaque prison system creates an immense movement of money within which figures of more than 1 billion Australian dollars per year end up in bribes for politicians, public officials and managers of the companies involved[29] .

In cases in which the judiciary proves field-related corruption, the consequences are ridiculous: in August 2020, the Australian businessman Mozammil Gulamabbas Bhojani, owner of the industrial group Radiance International, was found guilty of bribing Nauru officials to the tune of AUD 129,500. Radiance is active in Australia, Nauru, India and the United Arab Emirates in the phosphate market, and with that amount obtained special customs rules from the Nauru trade authorities[30] . Although the expected sentence was ten years in prison, the judge considered his ‘admirable personal attributes’ and lack of harm to citizens, and sentenced him to 30 months’ imprisonment, which was commuted to 400 hours of community service[31] .

A ruling that has outraged international NGOs, which are calling on Australia to punish its citizens who commit bribery offences abroad[32] . Mr Bhojani has a “very good business relationship with the Nauru government”[33] . Furthermore, in 2018 Radiance International Inc Sydney (dissolved in March 2022[34] ), received a AUD$2.566 million contract from the Australian Government to build accommodation facilities (Budapest Hotel, Nauru[35] ) for refugees. Documents show that the contract is dated[36] between December 2016 and July 2018[37]

The only other solution found so far to ease the pressure on detention camps is yet another case of corruption. In 2002, some 200 asylum seekers disembarked on the Norwegian ship Tampa, and then turned back, were offered money to return home[38] . It was then planned to offer ‘resettlement assistance’ to 1100 Afghan asylum seekers detained in camps in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Nauru[39] .

The Australian government allegedly paid around £3,800 to the families of the detainees, equivalent to 50 times the average annual salary of an Afghan worker[40] , trying to keep them out of the country[41] . All this despite the fact that Afghanistan was the scene of a bloody war at the time[42] . Officials at an immigration centre in Papua New Guinea put violent pressure on the Afghans to accept, and in later years similar offers were extended to people fleeing Bangladesh and Nepal[43] .

In fact, all this happened without any control. No one knows how many people were really repatriated; whether they received a sum of money, or that sum was unduly pocketed by others; whether there were really people willing to return to the hell of a theatre of war for a sum of money. In this case, the possible corruption of the system remains impossible to verify.

The implosion of the sovereign wealth fund

An image of the Nauru illegal immigrant detention camps[44]

The reason why the people of Nauru accept this is because they do not know what else to do to generate wealth, after squandering mining revenues and the assets of national government funds. Sovereign wealth funds in all countries are initially financed by windfall revenues from mineral exports such as oil and gas and other mineral products, or from sales/privatisations of public assets, or from large fiscal surpluses[45] . The Nauru Sovereign Wealth Fund was established in November 2015 and is chaired by the Minister of Finance, and grows through investment income and contributions from the Government of Nauru, Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand and the Asian Development Bank[46] . Currently, the fund administers $239 million[47] .

But the difficulties of the Philippine Sovereign Wealth Fund (the MIF Maharlika Investment Fund, promoted by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.[48] ) also threaten to cause problems for Nauru’s Sovereign Wealth Fund[49] . This is because these National Funds are interrelated and have massive losses due to rampant corruption in government circles[50] and in all aspects of daily life[51] . The MIF bill[52] passed the lower house of the Philippines in January 2022 and is now awaiting a counterpart bill in the Senate; it has already been revised three times but is still ‘very questionable and dangerous’[53] . The government of the Philippines has a fiscal deficit of USD 1,200 billion and an external debt of USD 13.4 billion – and part of the revenue is only fictitious, because it consists of bad debts to the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Nauru, or those of Malaysia, Ecuador and Tonga. The Sovereign Wealth Funds of each of these countries, in order to hide sums illegally deducted from their assets, pretend to have commercial contracts with the Funds of the other countries[54] . Once paid, the figures become impossible to verify: real debts or corruption?

This has happened before: prior to the current one, there was an NPRT (Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust) since 1968[55] , financed, immediately after the declaration of independence, by the cession to Australia of mining rights to the island’s rich phosphate mines for 21 million Australian dollars[56] . The mines bring enormous wealth to the island of Nauru[57] , the industry alone generates about 100-120 million Australian dollars a year and, against a government expenditure of 30 million Australian dollars, all the surplus is paid into the Trust, making the Nauruans the richest people in the world[58] .

Nauru’s economy is almost entirely dependent on phosphates[59] , which has led to the environmental disaster[60] and cadmium poisoning[61] , with 80 per cent of the island’s surface now abandoned after being rendered unusable by excavations[62] . In its best years, the NPRT administered A$800 million, including properties in Australia, Guam, Fiji, India, New Zealand, the United Kingdom[63] , the Philippines[64] and the United States. But, due to mismanagement by government officials and the extraordinary spending propensity of its citizens[65] , corruption at all levels, constant changes in the Island’s presidency, poor investment[66] , borrowing and government deficits, the Fund went bankrupt[67] , thus bankrupting the entire Republic.

Phosphate deposits were virtually exhausted by 2005[68] , although some small-scale mines are still active[69] . To make money, Nauru became a tax haven and money-laundering centre, particularly popular with the Russians[70] . These are the years of the presidency of Baron Divavesi Waqa, elected a first time in 2013 and a second time in July 2016[71] , for another three years. An extremely boisterous man, he has been accused of corruption since 2015: one of the officers investigating him is fired a month after the Waqa government takes office[72] . Emails leaked to the press reveal that Waqa and his then Justice Minister, David Adeang[73] , were allegedly bribed by an Australian phosphate company, Getax[74] , controlled by the notorious Gupta crime family[75] , which is involved in the sale of phosphates from Togo and Nauru to India[76] .

4 September 2018: Nauru’s then President Baron Waqa rings in welcoming a New Zealand diplomatic delegation[77]

According to the allegations, Waqa received 60,000 Australian bribes from Getax in 2010 and redistributed them among some of his political colleagues[78] . The government denies all allegations[79] . Getax’s Singaporean subsidiary, Getax Ocean Trading Pte Ltd, is fined $80,000[80] . The investigation into the bribery case is still ongoing[81] . Nevertheless, Waqa is appointed Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, the forum of prime ministers and presidents of Pacific nations, and will remain in office until 2024[82] .

In Nauru, his appointment was not appreciated: ‘People saw him for what he was and kicked him out in 2019. Now this government wants to reward him. For what reason? A very unpopular decision and not in line with public sentiment’[83] . A decision motivated by the fact that Waqa, like Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown, is an ardent supporter of ocean-bottom mining projects[84] , whereas previously the Forum and its leading members were against it[85] .

Opposed to the exploitation of the seabed, but not opposed to Waqa, with all that being aware of his corruption. In the Pacific islands, this brings him consensus: he is one who sas monetise his position in the diplomatic arena, and so it is good for everyone. A position that, as we shall see later, guarantees the two politicians the gratitude of a huge and powerful international lobby[86] . Since Nauru is shouldering the burden of responsibility for getting the moratorium on ocean-bottom mining lifted, the other countries in the Forum are well prepared to turn a blind eye to the honesty of the former Nauruan president.

Chinese gang at the Consulate and press tax

20 January 2023: Thai police raid the private villa of Nauru’s Consul General in Bangkok[87]

Yes. Because the corruption that dominates Nauru has global effects, and it also has consequences abroad. As in the case of the consulate scandal in Bangkok: in January 2023, the Thai Department of Special Investigations (DSI) suspended five officials accused of embezzlement, extortion and bribery. The decision was the result of a raid on the home of the former consul general of Nauru in Thailand, Onassis Dame, in December 2022[88] . The raid was requested by the Vice Consul, John Yu[89] , who claimed that suspicious-looking people had been using the property rented in Bangkok by the Consul General.

During the police raid on this house, located in an exclusive residential complex frequented by diplomats, 11 Chinese were arrested and 2.5 million baht (approx. USD 73,000) in cash were seized[90] . But the police arrived too late: another 11 Chinese escaped capture, carrying false passports and baht worth over USD 200,000[91] , as stated by Interpol[92] . The government of Nauru categorically denies any involvement in the case[93] . But at the same time, it asks the judiciary of several countries for help in analysing the behaviour of Nauruan diplomats in New Delhi, Taipei, Suva (Fiji), London and Honolulu (Hawaii).

In the aftermath of the scandal, the international press seeks explanations for the island’s malfeasance systems, but is met with general hostility from the Nauruans against journalism, which the government substantiates with the imposition of a €5,000 visa for three months (before the Bangkok raid it was only 200 Australian dollars, so just over €130[94] ) for anyone wishing to write, film or broadcast on the island’s internal affairs[95] – a sum that is not refunded in the event (which happens often) that the visa is not granted[96] . It is forbidden to take photos inside the detention centres, as well as to carry a smartphone with a camera – a violation of these laws can generate a penalty of up to two years in prison[97] .

Although Nauru (as well as Australia[98] ) claims that this is a decision made independently on the island, in 2018, recently leaked government documents in Canberra showed that the Australian government exerted pressure to impose the visa against press freedom[99] . According to the Australian Green Party, ‘this is part of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s strategy to prevent public information about how Australian taxpayers’ money is being spent on Nauru’s cruel and harsh detention camps’[100] . According to Sky, the fee was set specifically to discourage the ABC and Guardian Australia[101] from attending the Pacific Islands Forum and asking uncomfortable questions about Barn Waqa’s election[102] . And, after all, there is no independent media on a small and remote island like Nauru[103] .

Economic collapse

A scene from the Nauruan musical about the love life of Leonardo da Vinci – one of the biggest flops in Broadway history[104]

In the history of almost every island or small territory, there have been episodes in which some ‘entrepreneurs’ have promised huge profits from ‘innovative’ investments or from the extraction of raw materials; these managers also often offer substantial bribes to politicians and public officials in the country, fuelling corruption. With the revenue from phosphate exports, Nauru’s first president, Hammer DeRoburt, began to invest in real estate across the Pacific, in shipping, and even in a national airline, Nauru Airlines, founded in 1969 and grown to a fleet of seven aircraft in 1983[105] .

All this despite the fact that Nauru averages 200 tourists a year. Nauru Airlines operated by managing to sell only 20 per cent of its aircraft capacity[106] . The company is notorious for the unreliability of its flight schedules. In 1988, it lost its certification as a commercial airline for six months. During this period, Nauru Airlines’ flights are completely free. How did it survive? Subsidised by phosphate funds[107] , like many other things on the island. But no one was worried about running out of money.

In the 1970s, when Nauru gained control of the mines[108] , there was a boom in increasingly wild investment plans. NPRT, at the height of its wealth, had investments totalling A$1 billion in property purchases and other projects in the US, Australia, the Philippines, New Zealand, the UK, India and the Pacific[109] . Without any accountability or oversight, Nauruan politicians and officials have irresponsibly exploited and misused the funds in increasingly expensive and extravagant schemes: it is estimated that the airline alone, on the pretext of connecting Nauru to the world, has lost between $40 million and $80 million a year. Abroad, Nauruans are considered chickens to be plucked, and they pay for everything, especially in real estate, at exaggeratedly inflated prices[110] .

Nauru is so rich in funds that it offers free public services and foregoes the collection of taxes. Many people stop working, relying on the government to take care of everything: a typical family of five has a citizenship income of $100,000, all medical and dental care is free[111] . At its peak (in 1998), the Nauru government employed more than 1,600 employees[112] to oversee the distribution of government wealth – at the time the entire population of the country was less than 10,000. Sales of frozen and fast food skyrocketed, as did obesity. The International Diabetes Federation identified 31% of Nauruans as diabetic, while the World Health Organisation estimated the country’s obesity rate at 71.7%[113] .

Another bad investment is that of the Nauru Pacific Line, a shipping company with annual losses of USD 12-15 million. The line had five ships of its own and two leased, continued to make losses and received subsidies from the state[114] . To cover the losses, Nauru invested $60 million in bank instruments of dubious legality proposed by the Sydney law firm Allen, Allen and Helmsley. When the broker for Nauru disappeared with $6 million in his pocket, only part of the money was recovered, and the total losses were never ascertained[115] .

More money naively lost. But on other occasions it was even worse: Duke Minks, one of the financial advisors and executives of Citibank Australia, suggests investing millions in a musical he wrote and produced. Bernard Dowiyogo, the chairman at the time, enthusiastically agrees to support him. Together with his friend Tommy Moeller, lead singer of the British band Unit 4+2, Minks writes a musical (Leonardo the Musical: A Portrait of Love) about the tormented love story between Leonardo da Vinci and the Mona Lisa.

Youth obesity, one of the great scourges of Nauruan society[116]

In June 1993, more than 100 dignitaries from Nauru, including the president, travelled to London for the premiere. They almost didn’t make it: as the pilot prepared for take-off, people crowded onto the runway to prevent the plane from taking off, shouting in protest and clinging to the aircraft. Eventually the police arrived and cleared the runway, and the president and his staff took off. The musical was a big flop, one of the biggest disasters in London theatre history, with an (official) loss of $7 million[117] .

At that point, the government decided to impose a tax system – too late, because the crisis had, as its first effect, the non-payment of civil servants’ salaries and fuel oil deliveries. Nauru started to borrow money and, due to mismanagement, high government expenditure, fraud and risky investments in real estate, shipping and air services, Nauru’s sovereign wealth fund lost much of its value[118] . In 2001, Nauru had serious liquidity problems[119] . In 2002 it stopped repaying its loans[120] . The detention camps were not enough: at the end of 2003, Nauru was saved by an Australian contribution of $1.2 million[121] . Satellite communications were cut off due to non-payment of subscription fees in March 2004[122] . Australia then gave Nauru $22.5 million in aid for two years to resolve its long-term options[123] .

In April 2004, Nauru House could receive incoming telephone calls, but could not dial outgoing calls, because the telephone bills had not been paid. In May 2004, General Electric Capital Corporation took over Nauru’s mortgaged properties due to non-repayment of a $239 million loan. The assets, which included the 50-storey Nauru House on Collins Street in Melbourne, the Downtowner Motel in Carlton and the Mercure Hotel in Sydney, have long since been resold[124] . In 2006, receivers began seizing the nation’s real estate assets[125] . The central bank went bankrupt, its overseas real estate was seized, its aircraft were seized from airport runways[126] .

Smuggling passports and votes to the UN

Abandoned phosphate loading stations on the seashore in Nauru[127]

Desperation makes for creativity. Passport smuggling programmes have a long history, beginning with Tonga in the early 1980s[128] . Subsequently, Samoa, Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands and Nauru also started selling their citizenship. In its heyday, the passport sales system in Nauru generated about 8% of the country’s GDP[129] . Buyers (often Chinese citizens[130] ) buy passports to acquire the rights (such as visa-free travel, less taxes, etc.) and not the duties of citizenship by living elsewhere[131] . Passport-selling programmes are difficult to control, generating huge revenues for local elites and nothing for the general population[132] , and granting citizenship to a herd of thieves, swindlers and smugglers .[133]

Nauru began selling ‘economic citizenship’ in 1997[134] through the Nauru Citizen Investment Board[135] . Buyers pay up to USD 50,000 to the TransPacific Development Corporation, registered in Hong Kong but with offices in Washington, headed by lawyers Brian W. Shaughnessy and Paul Lee Der (jailed for financial fraud in 1994[136] ). TransPacific issues thousands of Nauru passports[137] after a medical test and a ten-minute interview[138] . As of 2003, the island sold more than 1,000 passports per year[139] .

In addition to this more or less state-controlled traffic, an unspecified number of passports disappear and are sold on the black market, so much so that the government of Nauru, in 2000, briefly considered the possibility of changing the concession rules[140] . Nothing changes: in November 2000, immigration officers at Manila airport arrest Alexey Polukhin, a Russian suspected of belonging to an international terrorist network; he is in possession of a Nauru passport (bought for USD 30,000) and lives in Canada – so Ottawa makes the reform, tightening the requirements for Nauru citizens to travel to Canada[141] .

In 2003, some passports ended up in the hands of members of Al-Qaeda and terrorist groups in Turkestan (East Turkestan Liberation Organisation[142] ) and Azerbaijan[143] , and the then president of Nauru decided to prohibit the trade in citizenship[144] , following pressure from Australia[145] and the United States[146] , and implementing a decree by President Bernard Dowiyogo, signed on 27 February 2003 in the room of a hospital in New York, where he was dying[147] . Before his death, Dowiyogo handed over Nauru’s last diplomatic passports to Steven Ray and Jack Sanders (alleged agents of the US secret service[148] ). Ray is an expert on offshore financial networks[149] and serves as Nauru’s honorary consul in Washington[150] .

The headquarters of the International Business Company, which grants tax-free banking and business licences to foreign companies [151]

Jack Sanders, an unsuccessful Labour candidate for the New Zealand Parliament in 1990 under the name James Thomas Stubbs, moved to China[152] . Ray and Sanders were said to have overseen Nauru’s involvement in ‘Operation Weasel’[153] – a US plan to smuggle twenty North Korean nuclear scientists and high-ranking military and industrial defectors to the West through Nauru’s embassy in Beijing, avoiding diplomatic problems in Washington[154] . Nauru would receive $1 million for its contribution and some private American organisations (e.g. the International Law Institute) would subsidise Nauru’s new missions in Washington and Beijing for at least two years. In July 2003, Nauru closed the two embassies because Ray was using them to sell Nauruan passports for $50,000 a piece[155] . Ray was in cahoots with some island ministers[156] and some ‘senior government officials’[157] .

In December 2009, Nauru became the fourth country (after Venezuela, Nicaragua and Russia) to recognise as independent states the Georgian rebel regions[158] of Abkhazia and South Ossetia[159] , supported by Russia and opposed by the rest of the world[160] . When Georgia attacked the rebel province of South Ossetia in August 2008, Russian troops defended it for five days as they approached Tbilisi, and the international community did not intervene, leaving Georgia alone[161] . After this war, Russia recognised the region as independent, together with Abkhazia, and controls its borders and coastline with troops[162] .

Russia promised financial aid to Nauru to ‘motivate’ it in this sensitive matter[163] , and has since allegedly provided Nauru with permanent economic assistance[164] , such as almost USD 9 million used by Nauru in 2010 to improve its port[165] . According to the former president of South Ossetia, Anatoliy Bibilov, his country uses Nauru to represent its interests at the United Nations[166] . Donald Trump has cut off funding to all states and organisations that recognise the territories (an action warmly welcomed by Tbilisi[167] ) and Nauru is now at risk of not receiving American aid[168] . The former president of Nauru, Sprent Dabwido, has denied receiving aid from Russia in exchange for recognition, but international observers and experts have confirmed that Nauru did it for the money[169] .

But it was not enough, because when the phosphate deposits ran out in the mid-1990s[170] , the island needed more money to pay off debts incurred during the mismanagement of government investments. The Nauruans thought that offshore banking would become a highly profitable global industry, which also did not require much investment. They were right. Nauru registered more than 450 shell banks (existing only on paper, lacking credible ongoing supervision[171] ), luring offshore banks to register in its financial sector[172] ; soon its offshore banking sector became a ‘laundry’[173] for tax-evading investors, drug cartels[174] and the mafia.

After being one of the richest countries in the world for years, Nauru sank into misery after the closure of the phosphate mines[175]

In the late 1990s, Nauru was a tax haven due to the activities of its international financial centre[176] , which offers offshore banking services, among other things. In 1998 alone, $70 billion (£53.7 billion[177] ) was transferred from Russian banks to banks in Nauru, a figure 700 times higher than Nauru’s GDP[178] . According to experts, money laundering is only the tip of the iceberg. Every year, hundreds of billions of dollars from criminal activities pass through offshore banks in Nauru, the Cayman Islands, Antigua and other countries. The money comes from Russian organised crime, Colombian drug cartels, terrorist groups (including those in Indonesia[179] ), corrupt government officials and tax evaders[180] .

But things soon change. In 2000, having run out of phosphate, product prices collapse and the government sinks into debt, with unemployment close to 90%[181] . In June 2000, the Intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force identified Nauru as one of the ‘uncooperative’ countries in the fight against international money laundering[182] . In 2001, Nauru was blacklisted internationally for its role in money laundering[183] . In December 2001, Bankers Trust and Deutsche Bank banned all dollar payments to banks in Nauru and two other Pacific Ocean countries suspected of money laundering[184] . In 2002, the Bush administration banned US banks from having any contact with Nauru’s institutions[185] (imposing sanctions against Nauru, along with Ukraine[186] ), thus defining it as one of the first rogue states under the Patriot Act of 2001[187] .

On 27 February 2003, President Dowiyogo signed a deathbed decree ending the offshore banking system and the economic citizenship programme[188] . In December 2003, President Rene Harris wrote to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) that Nauru agreed to end offshore banking and requested aid to compensate for the resulting loss of income. Therefore, Nauru was removed from the OECD list of non-cooperative tax havens[189] .

Nauru bowed to US demands to reform its banking sector in the hope of obtaining substantial aid to save itself from bankruptcy. But while the island seems to have cleaned up its act since then, the country still maintains great secrecy about companies. In addition, Nauru does not levy any corporation tax on companies that engage in international shipping or have less than $250,000 in profits[190] . The Nauru government revoked the licences of hundreds of banks registered in the country[191] and the Australian government shut down Nauru’s banking system in 2006. For many years (until 2015), the island operated solely on cash. Without banks, some residents buried their cash savings to hide them from thieves[192] . The Bank of Nauru is in such dire straits that it often limits withdrawals to $100. Most Nauruans do not accept cheques[193] . After 2020, western banks, from Deutsche Bank to Citibank, no longer allow any dollar transactions with entities or individuals on Nauru[194] .

The government has re-established banking services in the country after more than a decade of absence. Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited of Australia (Bendigo Bank) entered into a special project with the Nauru Ministry of Finance to open a branch in Nauru in June 2015. This enabled Nauruans to access basic financial services, such as ATMs, current and savings accounts and term deposits, while having difficulties with the transfer of funds[195] . In 2016, Westpac withdrew from banking in Nauru, citing concerns about compliance with international money laundering standards in a letter to customers[196] .

The exploitation of the ocean floor

Greenpeace activists confront the Hidden Gem mining ship[197]

The ocean floor is rich in deposits of mineral resources and precious metals (such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite, manganese, silver and zinc), which are needed for modern industrial production, such as electric vehicles. Today, available technology would make it possible to exploit those resources by digging up the ocean floor. However, NGOs around the world oppose deep mining, seeking to preserve the marine ecosystem from ecological disaster[198] , to save the geological and tectonic stability of the continents, and to avoid pollution and ‘irreversible multi-generational time-scale ocean warming’[199] .

To promote the project of exploiting the seabed, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) was founded in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1982. It controls all activities related to mineral resources and is authorised by the UN to issue mining licences[200] to international companies; more than 160 nations are involved in the project[201] . Both Nauru and the Metals Company explain that the effort to mine the seabed is essential to reduce carbon emissions, as clean energy technologies require the metals found in the nodules of the seabed[202] . The project has already started drilling (for now only exploratory drilling) in the Pacific Ocean, an area between Hawaii and Mexico known as the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ), and among the countries involved are Papua New Guinea (which has already invested in a project and is left with $140 million in debt[203] , Tonga[204] , Nauru and Kiribati[205] .

The Canadian companies The Metals Company and Allseas Company are leading the project, of which NORI (Nauru Ocean Resources Inc) is the leader. The NORI licence area accounts for 22% of The Metals Company’s estimated resources in the CCZ and is classified as the world’s largest undeveloped nickel deposit[206] , in addition to reserves of copper, cobalt, manganese and silica[207] , which are located approximately 4000-5500 metres deep in the north-eastern part of the Pacific Ocean[208] . NORI has already completed 18 resource assessment and environmental reference campaigns, carried out a wide range of meteorological and oceanographic measurements and collected all the necessary data; NORI expects to submit an exploitation contract application for NORI to the ISA in the second half of 2023[209] .

Graham Leung (left) with ISA President Michael Lodge (right)[210]

In July 2021, Nauru gave the ISA a two-year deadline to finalise the rules for the exploitation project[211] , and responds to environmentalists by saying that this exploitation will not harm the island, since it will be carried out many kilometres away[212] . The International Seabed Authority itself is interested in the extraction of the seabed. To fund itself, the ISA depends on fees paid by companies carrying out exploration work and contributions from member states, many of which seem to have stopped paying; a 2020 report listed almost sixty countries that owe at least two years of contributions. In addition, the ISA is expected to receive a percentage of the profits from seabed mining, but only if this goes ahead[213] .

The Metals Company has exclusive access to and plans to mine cobalt and other metals from a 75,000 km² area in the CCZ, over which the State of Nauru has gained control. The NORI-D project is being implemented by NORI, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Metals Company[214] . The Metals Company (formerly known as DeepGreen Metals) is a Vancouver-based company that explores metals for low-impact batteries from polymetallic nodules on the seabed[215] , which was born from the ashes of Nautilus Minerals[216] . It has an agreement to supply metals to Glencore Plc[217] and promotes deep mining.

In September 2022, the ISA completed its review of NORI’s Environmental Impact Statement and recommended that NORI proceed with pilot tests to collect nodules[218] . One month later, in October 2022, the first nodules, over 3000 tonnes[219] , made their 12-minute journey from the seabed of NORI-D to the surface[220] . Now it is only a matter of time… The International Seabed Authority will start accepting mining applications from companies in July[221] . China is a leader in deep-sea mining exploration, but Chile, France, Palau and Fiji, among other nations, have called for a global moratorium on this practice, citing environmental concerns and lack of sufficient scientific data[222] . Should the destruction of the ocean floor really begin, as it seems it will, Nauru will play a central part in it.

Nauru 19

Members of Nauru 19 sit in court wearing T-shirts with the inscription ‘The corrupt fear us, the honest support us, the heroes join us’[223]

However, it should not be assumed that all the people of Nauru are selfish, without any sense of responsibility and corrupt to the core. What is certain is that in order to oppose the ruling group of this tiny country, one has to be prepared to pay a heavy price. On 16 June 2015, a group of anti-government demonstrators, known as Nauru 19, protested against corruption in front of the parliament building[224] . Hundreds of participants protested against the measures against press freedom and the expulsion of independent magistrates taken by the government, and were repelled by the arrival of the police and its decisive and violent intervention[225] .

The protest is triggered by a series of expulsions of Australians in senior judicial roles in Nauru[226] . The group claims that the government is trying to avoid budgetary control. The leader of Nauru 19 is former president Sprent Dabwido, who died of cancer in 2019[227] . The group is defending itself against riot charges[228] , and the Public Defender is refusing to represent them[229] . Their lawyers are still fighting for a fair trial[230] . In October 2018, the Nauru government denied passports to at least three members of the Nauru 19 group, including former Justice Minister Mathew Batsiua[231] . An Australian judge, Geoffrey Muecke, ordered Nauru to pay $224,000 towards the defendants’ legal representation costs; the Republic of Nauru did not pay[232] . Muecke ruled that the group had no prospect of a fair trial, as the government wanted to see them imprisoned for a long time and was ‘willing to spend whatever resources, including financial, necessary to achieve this goal[233] . Muecke also exposed clear evidence of a government-run blacklist against members of the group[234] .

In December 2019, the members of Nauru 19 were found guilty in a retrial, four and a half years after they were charged. The 12 defendants, who appeared in court, were remanded in custody pending sentencing. Three more of the original 19 pleaded guilty and three have fled the country[235] ; at least two of the defendants are seeking political asylum in Australia[236] . The long-running case was dismissed by the Nauru High Court in 2018, but the decision was overturned by a new judge[237] . A group of 11 defendants were found guilty of ‘rioting’, while four defendants were convicted of serious assault on police officers and two of ‘entering a restricted area’. They received sentences of between three and eleven months in prison[238] . The last of the members of Nauru 19, former minister Mathew Batsiua, was released in April 2020[239] .

According to the members of the Nauru 19 group, the entire trial against them was marred by repeated errors of form and illegitimate decisions, all dictated by the government’s need to set an example and discourage future criticism of the state and its officials. In this case too, for the umpteenth time, bribes were paid. Something that, observed from the outside, might even look funny, were it not for the fact that the small island of Nauru, lost in the Pacific Ocean, with its active support for international organised crime and the destruction of the ecosystem, creates problems on a scale comparable to those of huge states like the USA, China, Russia and the EU. And it will not change until international pressure forces it to do so.


[1] https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/foi/files/2019/fa-190700487-document-released.PDF 

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/sep/24/australia-signs-deal-with-nauru-to-keep-asylum-seeker-detention-centre-open-indefinitely

[3] ht44tps://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/foi/files/2019/fa-190700487-document-released.PDF

[4] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/press-release/2016/08/australia-abuse-neglect-of-refugees-on-nauru/

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/nov/06/julia-gillard-defends-hardline-asylum-seeker-policy-in-al-jazeera-interview

[6] https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1617/Quick_Guides/Offshore

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/news/series/nauru-files

[8] https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/operation-sovereign-borders-offshore-detention-statistics/2/

[9] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/2/24/refugees-on-australian-detention-island-sew-lips-shut-in-protest ; https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/12/16/i-want-to-go-outside-first-nauru-refugees-finally-find-freedom 

[10] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/sep/24/australia-signs-deal-with-nauru-to-keep-asylum-seeker-detention-centre-open-indefinitely ; https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/oct/06/australia-to-end-offshore-processing-in-papua-new-guinea 

[11] https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/evacuation-to-safety-bill-2023/

[12] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/mar/09/un-reports-australias-immigration-detention-breaches-torture-convention

[13] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/feb/15/australias-offshore-detention-is-unlawful-says-international-criminal-court-prosecutor

[14] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/press-release/2016/08/australia-abuse-neglect-of-refugees-on-nauru/

[15] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/22/almost-90-of-children-brought-from-nauru-suffered-physical-health-problem-study ; https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/mar/06/refugees-held-offshore-plead-with-australia-to-be-moved-saying-every-day-is-suffering ; https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/2/24/refugees-on-australian-detention-island-sew-lips-shut-in-protest 

[16] https://www.themonthly.com.au/blog/russell-marks/2023/03/2023/labor-power-recent-history

[17] https://www.crikey.com.au/2023/04/04/refugees-labor-inhumane-policy-behrouz-boochani/

[18] https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/operation-sovereign-borders-offshore-detention-statistics/6/

[19] https://www.themonthly.com.au/blog/russell-marks/2023/03/2023/labor-power-recent-history

[20] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/sep/05/the-egregious-history-of-likely-new-nauru-operator-includes-allegations-of-gang-and-in-its-us-prisons

[21] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/2/24/refugees-on-australian-detention-island-sew-lips-shut-in-protest

[22] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/15/brisbane-construction-firm-made-43m-profit-running-nauru-detention-centre-last-year

[23] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/12/nauru-detention-centre-operator-makes-101m-profit-at-least-500000-for-each-detainee

[24] https://www.amnesty.it/australia-multinazionale-spagnola-profitti-sui-rifugiati-nauru/ ; https://www.repubblica.it/solidarieta/diritti-umani/2017/04/05/news/torture-162273508/ ; https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa12/4934/2016/en/ 

[25] https://web.archive.org/web/20200426230810/https://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20191223/pdf/44cvj99tw06jyc.pdf

[26] https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/operation-sovereign-borders-offshore-detention-statistics/6/

[27] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/12/16/i-want-to-go-outside-first-nauru-refugees-finally-find-freedom

[28] https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/evacuation-to-safety-bill-2023/

[29] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/25/nauru-denies-former-presidents-claim-offshore-detention-deal-led-to-corruption ; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/04/corruption-incompetence-and-a-musical-naurus-riches-to-rags-tale

[30] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-17/company-linked-to-alleged-nauru-bribery-received-2.5m-from-aus/10258152

[31] Bhojani convicted in Nauru corruption case, 19 August 2020; https://www.cdpp.gov.au/case-reports/bhojani-convicted-nauru-bribery-case 

[32] https://www.abc.net.au/pacific/programs/pacificbeat/businessman-sentenced-for-bribing-nauru-officials/12596102

[33] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-14/australian-charged-with-allegedly-conspiring-to-bribe-nauruan/10237540

[34] https://opencorporates.com/companies/au/613176051

[35] https://www.tenders.gov.au/Cn/Show/94B4EF7F-E971-F91F-4AA2-C64429AB439B

[36] https://www.tenders.gov.au/Cn/Show/94B4EF7F-E971-F91F-4AA2-C64429AB439B

[37] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-17/company-linked-to-alleged-nauru-bribery-received-2.5m-from-aus/10258152

[38] https://web.archive.org/web/20171017095654/http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2011/08/24/tampa-key-players-look-back

[39] http://edition.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/asiapcf/auspac/01/30/aust.afghans/index.html

[40] Refugees are told to take their money and leave. Courier Mail (Queensland Australia); 14 June 2002; see also: Old articles on Nauru in Nexis, pp. 27-28

[41] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/may/24/australia.immigration

[42] Refugees are told to take their money and leave. Courier Mail (Queensland Australia); 14 June 2002; see also: Old articles on Nauru in Nexis, pp. 27-28

[43] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-australia-refugees-exclusiv-idUSKBN15T317

[44] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/sep/01/wilson-security-to-withdraw-from-australias-offshore-detention-centres

[45] https://www.philstar.com/the-freeman/opinion/2023/03/21/2253261/disaster-waiting-happen

[46] https://naurufinance.info/intergenerational-trust-fund/

[47] https://naurufinance.info/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Chairmans-report-2022.pdf 

[48] https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Maharlika-Investment-Fund-provides-make-or-break-test-for-Marcos

[49] https://www.philstar.com/the-freeman/opinion/2023/03/21/2253261/disaster-waiting-happen

[50] https://time.com/6241736/philippines-sovereign-wealth-fund/

[51] https://opinion.inquirer.net/160162/nauru-and-its-investment-program-should-serve-as-cautionary-tale-for-the-philippines ; https://www.philstar.com/business/2022/12/21/2232136/whose-idea-was-it 

[52] https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Asia-Insight/Maharlika-Investment-Fund-provides-make-or-break-test-for-Marcos

[53] https://www.philstar.com/the-freeman/opinion/2023/03/21/2253261/disaster-waiting-happen

[54] https://www.philstar.com/the-freeman/opinion/2023/03/21/2253261/disaster-waiting-happen

[55] https://web.archive.org/web/20000925113247/http://atimes.com/oceania/AE26Ah01.html

[56] https://journals.openedition.org/jso/7055, P.34

[57] https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/09/0fdc626a0cdb-feature-nauru-from-economic-goldmine-to-refugee-hell.html

[58] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7296832.stm

[59] https://interestingengineering.com/culture/phosphate-mining-ruined-island-nauru

[60] https://journals.openedition.org/jso/7055, pages 38-43 ; https://interestingengineering.com/culture/phosphate-mining-ruined-island-nauru 

[61] https://ejatlas.org/conflict/phosphate-mining-on-nauru/?translate=it

[62] https://teara.govt.nz/en/photograph/15838/nauru-after-phosphate-mining ; https://web.archive.org/web/20000925113247/http://atimes.com/oceania/AE26Ah01.html 

[63] https://web.archive.org/web/20000925113247/http://atimes.com/oceania/AE26Ah01.html 

[64] https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/12/05/maharlika-investment-fund-good-idea-or-not/ 

[65] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/7296832.stm

[66] https://web.archive.org/web/20180116140500/http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/10/magazine/the-billion-dollar-shack.html?mcubz=1

[67] https://web.archive.org/web/20051023131019/http://uniya.org/research/view_nauru.html

[68] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-15433616

[69] https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/09/0fdc626a0cdb-feature-nauru-from-economic-goldmine-to-refugee-hell.html

[70] https://web.archive.org/web/20180116140500/http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/10/magazine/the-billion-dollar-shack.html?mcubz=1

[71] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-15433616

[72] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-08/nauru-president-and-justice-minister-allegedly-bribed/6530038

[73] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-14/australian-phosphate-company-getax-payments-to-nauru-minister/7838170

[74] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/foreign-trade/australian-company-getax-under-probe-in-india-and-australia-for-money-laundering/articleshow/54355854.cms


[76] https://mlexmarketinsight.com/news/insight/getax-faces-australian-conspiracy-foreign-bribery-charges-over-nauru-phosphate-deal ; https://www.cpib.gov.sg/cases/pte_getting-deep-water.html 

[77] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btqPMPbLLqY

[78] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-08/nauru-president-and-justice-minister-allegedly-bribed/6530038

[79] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-08/nauru-president-and-justice-minister-allegedly-bribed/6530038

[80] https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/company-fined-80k-for-giving-bribes-to-an-mp-from-nauru-a-country-north-east ; https://pannulawyers.com.au/getax-mining-company-accused-of-bribing-foreign-public-officials-and-money-laundering-offences/ 

[81] https://www.newsheads.in/business/companies/under-investigation-in-australia-getax-gets-notices-from-indian-tax-authrorites–article-68808

[82] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-24/pacific-islands-forum-elects-new-leader/102019112

[83] https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/485956/will-ex-nauru-president-baron-waqa-s-appointment-as-next-pacific-islands-forum-boss-do-more-harm-than-good

[84] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/04/corruption-incompetence-and-a-musical-naurus-riches-to-rags-tale

[85] https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/485956/will-ex-nauru-president-baron-waqa-s-appointment-as-next-pacific-islands-forum-boss-do-more-harm-than-good ; https://ibiworld.eu/en/the-exploitation-of-the-seabed-a-new-self-destructive-limit-for-humanity/ ; https://ibiworld.eu/en/military-bases-and-mines-the-new-face-of-the-seabed/ ; https://ibiworld.eu/en/deep-sea-mining-2/ 

[86] https://ibiworld.eu/en/the-exploitation-of-the-seabed-a-new-self-destructive-limit-for-humanity/ ; https://ibiworld.eu/en/military-bases-and-mines-the-new-face-of-the-seabed/ ; https://ibiworld.eu/en/deep-sea-mining-2/

[87] https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2488102/dsi-officers-suspended-in-nauru-consul-case

[88] https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/pacific/nauru-consul-thailand-01182023123630.html

[89] https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/pacific/nauru-thailand-denial-01232023060409.html ; https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/pacific/nauru-consul-thailand-01182023123630.html 

[90] https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/pacific/nauru-consul-thailand-01182023123630.html

[91] https://www.bangkokpost.com/thailand/general/2488344/dsi-suspends-five-officers-suspected-in-nauru-consul-embezzlement-case

[92] https://www.nationthailand.com/thailand/40023538

[93] https://www.benarnews.org/english/news/pacific/nauru-thailand-denial-01232023060409.html

[94] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/09/nauru-visa-to-cost-8000 ; https://reliefweb.int/report/nauru/pacific-island-refusing-all-foreign-media-visa-requests 

[95] Official site: 

[96] https://reliefweb.int/report/nauru/pacific-island-refusing-all-foreign-media-visa-requests

[97] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-27/what-are-the-secrecy-provisions-of-the-border-force-act/7663608 ; https://medium.com/dose/welcome-to-nauru-the-most-corrupt-country-youve-never-heard-of-7679ea863399

[98] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/media-access-up-to-nauru-dutton/clm1p2n0s

[99] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/04/australia-jointly-responsible-for-naurus-draconian-media-policy-documents-reveal

[100] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/09/nauru-visa-to-cost-8000

[101] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/04/australia-jointly-responsible-for-naurus-draconian-media-policy-documents-reveal

[102] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jul/03/malcolm-turnbull-says-naurus-ban-on-abc-journalists-regrettable

[103] https://reliefweb.int/report/nauru/pacific-island-refusing-all-foreign-media-visa-requests

[104] https://news.wttw.com/2022/02/24/exploring-mind-renaissance-genius-notebooks-leonardo-da-vinci

[105] https://www.nauruair.com/

[106] https://commonplacefacts.com/2020/11/26/how-a-bad-musical-plus-a-whole-bunch-of-really-bad-ideas-bankrupted-the-worlds-wealthiest-country/

[107] https://commonplacefacts.com/2020/11/26/how-a-bad-musical-plus-a-whole-bunch-of-really-bad-ideas-bankrupted-the-worlds-wealthiest-country/

[108] https://opinion.inquirer.net/160162/nauru-and-its-investment-program-should-serve-as-cautionary-tale-for-the-philippines

[109] https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/157926/1/241_money.pdf ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nauru_Phosphate_Royalties_Trust 

[110] From wealth to rags. What are Nauru’s options and how can it help Australia? Helen Hughes, 18 August 2004, for more: https://www.cis.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ia50.pdf, p. 8

[111] https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/157926/1/241_money.pdf

[112] https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/157926/1/241_money.pdf

[113] https://commonplacefacts.com/2020/11/26/how-a-bad-musical-plus-a-whole-bunch-of-really-bad-ideas-bankrupted-the-worlds-wealthiest-country/

[114] https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/157926/1/241_money.pdf

[115] From wealth to rags. What are Nauru’s options and how can it help Australia? Helen Hughes, 18 August 2004, for more: https://www.cis.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ia50.pdf, p. 8

[116] https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/health/children-obesity-rates-in-rich-countries-may-have-peaked/891033/

[117] https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/earshot/the-secret-history-of-nauru-and-its-lost-wealth/7496620

[118] https://opinion.inquirer.net/160162/nauru-and-its-investment-program-should-serve-as-cautionary-tale-for-the-philippines 

[119] Young Nauruans prepare to fight for the future, Pacific Islands Report, 24.9.01

[120] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/04/corruption-incompetence-and-a-musical-naurus-riches-to-rags-tale

[121] M. Forbes and M. Shaw, ‘Emergency money sent to Nauru’, The Age, 20.12.2003

[122] https://www.pacnog.org/pacnog19/presentations/Nauru-Govt-Network.pdf

[123] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2004-03-05/nauru-to-receive-225-million-in-australian-aid/146550

[124] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/04/corruption-incompetence-and-a-musical-naurus-riches-to-rags-tale

[125] https://openresearch-repository.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/157926/1/241_money.pdf

[126] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/04/corruption-incompetence-and-a-musical-naurus-riches-to-rags-tale

[127] https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-are-the-biggest-industries-in-nauru.html

[128] https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2018/10/13/passports-a-ticket-to-corruption-in-the-pacific-islands/

[129] https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/18132/49480_1.pdf;sequence=1

[130] https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2018/10/13/passports-a-ticket-to-corruption-in-the-pacific-islands/

[131] Glenn R. Simpson, Tiny island selling passports is big worry for U.S. The Wall Street Journal, 16 May 2003. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB105303631570539800

[132] https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/passports-convenience-pacific-islands

[133] https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2018/10/13/passports-a-ticket-to-corruption-in-the-pacific-islands/

[134] https://www.smh.com.au/world/former-nauru-minister-named-in-passport-scam-20060509-gdnica.html

[135] https://www.smh.com.au/world/former-nauru-minister-named-in-passport-scam-20060509-gdnica.html

[136] Glenn R. Simpson, Tiny island selling passports is big worry for U.S. The Wall Street Journal, 16 May 2003. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB105303631570539800

[137] Glenn R. Simpson, Tiny island selling passports is big worry for U.S. The Wall Street Journal, 16 May 2003. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB105303631570539800

[138] https://www.sovspot.com/citizenship-by-investment/history/ ; https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/18132/49480_1.pdf;sequence=1

[139] https://best-citizenships.com/2021/01/26/the-forgotten-history-of-passport-sales/#:~:text=Nauru,-Nauru’s%20passport%20sales&text=Since%201998%2C%201%2C000%20passports%20were,year%20between%201998%20and%202002.  ; From wealth to rags. What are Nauru’s options and how can it help Australia? Helen Hughes, 18 August 2004, for more: https://www.cis.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ia50.pdf, p. 9 ; https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/18132/49480_1.pdf;sequence=1 p.28

[140] https://www.smh.com.au/world/former-nauru-minister-named-in-passport-scam-20060509-gdnica.html

[141] https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/18132/49480_1.pdf;sequence=1

[142] https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2018/10/13/passports-a-ticket-to-corruption-in-the-pacific-islands/

[143] https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/18132/49480_1.pdf;sequence=1, p.26

[144] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2003-04-16/nauru-to-probe-terrorist-passport-claims/1837596

[145] https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/18132/49480_1.pdf;sequence=1 p.30

[146] https://amp.rnz.co.nz/article/b6b24d94-0b5b-45f9-8369-232bad2435c8 ; https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/18132/49480_1.pdf;sequence=1

[147] https://www.sovspot.com/citizenship-by-investment/history/ ; https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/18132/49480_1.pdf;sequence=1 p.26

[148] http://www.athenaeum.athenaverse.com/archives/00000032.htm

[149] https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/18132/49480_1.pdf;sequence=1 p.26

[150] http://www.athenaeum.athenaverse.com/archives/00000032.htm

[151] https://www.offshorecompany.com/company/nauru-ibc/

[152] http://www.athenaeum.athenaverse.com/archives/00000032.htm

[153] https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0411/S00358.htm ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Weasel 

[154] 9 In April 2003, Sanders’ brother, Paul Stubbs, was released after serving eleven months of his 26-month sentence for people smuggling involving Chinese. Both provided Chinese buyers with Nauru passports (New Zealand Herald, 3/5/03, 25/11/04, 15/1/05).

[155] https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/18132/49480_1.pdf;sequence=1 p.27

[156] https://www.smh.com.au/world/emergency-declared-as-nauruan-parliament-sacked-20041001-gdjua0.html

[157] https://www.smh.com.au/world/former-nauru-minister-named-in-passport-scam-20060509-gdnica.html

[158] https://www.rferl.org/a/Pacific_Island_Recognizes_Georgian_Rebel_Region/1904414.html

[159] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-13/why-is-nauru-backing-south-ossetia-and-abkhazia/9751660

[160] https://www.rferl.org/a/Pacific_Island_Recognizes_Georgian_Rebel_Region/1904414.html

[161] https://www.history.com/news/russia-georgia-war-military-nato

[162] https://www.rferl.org/a/Pacific_Island_Recognizes_Georgian_Rebel_Region/1904414.html

[163] https://www.rferl.org/a/Pacific_Island_Recognizes_Georgian_Rebel_Region/1904414.html

[164] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-13/why-is-nauru-backing-south-ossetia-and-abkhazia/9751660

[165] https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/191400/nauru – port facilities are upgraded with Russian aid

[166] https://eurasianet.org/questions-surround-south-ossetian-referendum-on-joining-russia

[167] https://www.rferl.org/a/georgia-kvirikashvili-trump-abkhazia-south-ossetia/28475046.html

[168] https://eurasianet.org/worlds-smallest-island-nation-may-lose-us-aid-over-georgias-breakaways

[169] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-13/why-is-nauru-backing-south-ossetia-and-abkhazia/9751660

[170] Glenn R. Simpson, Tiny island selling passports is big worry for U.S. The Wall Street Journal, 16 May 2003. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB105303631570539800

[171] https://regtechtimes.com/the-tax-haven-of-black-market-nauru/

[172] https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/530246/pacific-finance-sector-nauru.pdf

[173] https://www.cis.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ia50.pdf

[174] https://regtechtimes.com/the-tax-haven-of-black-market-nauru/

[175] https://www.borgenmagazine.com/rich-causes-of-poverty-in-nauru/

[176] Gravelle, Jane G. (15 January 2015). ‘Tax havens: international tax evasion and avoidance’. Congressional Research Service, read more: https://sgp.fas.org/crs/misc/R40623.pdf 

[177] https://regtechtimes.com/the-tax-haven-of-black-market-nauru/

[178] Clean Beaches, Dirty Money by Colin Woodard; The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, May/June 2000; read more: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2968/056003006 

[179] http://www.athenaeum.athenaverse.com/archives/00000032.htm

[180] Clean Beaches, Dirty Money by Colin Woodard; The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, May/June 2000; read more: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2968/056003006

[181] https://www.ibtimes.com/tiny-island-nation-nauru-rebuild-its-banking-system-help-australia-1454162

[182] https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/530246/pacific-finance-sector-nauru.pdf

[183] https://www.ibtimes.com/tiny-island-nation-nauru-rebuild-its-banking-system-help-australia-1454162

[184] Clean Beaches, Dirty Money by Colin Woodard; The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, May/June 2000; read more: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.2968/056003006

[185] https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/js194 ; Glenn R. Simpson, Tiny island selling passports is big worry for U.S. The Wall Street Journal, 16 May 2003. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB105303631570539800

[186] https://www.grassley.senate.gov/news/news-releases/nauru-and-ukraine-sanctions

[187] United States of America, Department of the Treasury: ‘This notice informs the public that the Treasury Department, on 20 December 2002, designated the countries of Nauru and Ukraine as major money laundering problems…. With respect to Nauru, Treasury intends to impose the special measures described in section 5318A(b)(5), which will prohibit U.S. financial institutions from engaging in financial relationships with any institution authorized by Nauru, unless otherwise provided.” U.S. Federal Register, 67(248) 26 December 2002, Notices: 7885978860. Read more: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2002/12/26/02-32571/departmental-offices-designation-of-nauru-and-ukraine-as-primary-money-laundering-concerns 

[188] Glenn R. Simpson, Tiny island selling passports is big worry for U.S. The Wall Street Journal, 16 May 2003. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB105303631570539800 ; https://www.sovspot.com/citizenship-by-investment/history/ ; https://research-repository.griffith.edu.au/bitstream/handle/10072/18132/49480_1.pdf;sequence=1 p.26

[189] https://www.oecd.org/tax/harmful/nauruisremovedfromoecdlistofuncooperativetaxhavens.htm

[190] https://finance.yahoo.com/news/17-islands-popular-tax-havens-032700723.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAFIVRFOXrkB3Ja1yRTMuMdfdLPlVru8W0-CFWxwNmiXUgVSEqE6HwQlI2vNfIv2Y5_O6K-hA1y0RbnGOXx_ufhRKxYtS5A2WWEF9nU83cHOPYPWptMWzWFh0wGsBYLn_731EUq2brHWuk0XxKAHxOKMXOF9q5nAlIF1t_ucu1WV0c   

[191] https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/530246/pacific-finance-sector-nauru.pdf

[192] https://www.ibtimes.com/tiny-island-nation-nauru-rebuild-its-banking-system-help-australia-1454162

[193] https://www.cis.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/ia50.pdf

[194] https://regtechtimes.com/the-tax-haven-of-black-market-nauru/

[195] https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/530246/pacific-finance-sector-nauru.pdf

[196] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/04/corruption-incompetence-and-a-musical-naurus-riches-to-rags-tale

[197] https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/race-bottom-deep-sea-minerals-centers-tiny-nauru-2023-04-14/

[198] https://miningwatch.ca/news/2022/9/28/new-modelling-predicts-deep-sea-mining-tonga-and-metals-company-pollute-hawaii-and

[199] Dossier on seabed mining, read more: https://ibiworld.eu/en/deep-sea-mining-2/ ; https://ibiworld.eu/en/the-exploitation-of-the-seabed-a-new-self-destructive-limit-for-humanity/ ; https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/01/03/mining-the-bottom-of-the-sea 

[200] https://ibiworld.eu/en/military-bases-and-mines-the-new-face-of-the-seabed/

[201] https://www.isa.org.jm/member-states/ ; https://www.isa.org.jm/organs/ 

[202] https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/01/03/mining-the-bottom-of-the-sea

[203] https://miningwatch.ca/news/2019/11/22/where-does-canada-stand-deep-sea-mining ; https://www.savingseafood.org/news/conservation-environment/deep-sea-mining-an-environmental-solution-or-impending-catastrophe/ ; https://news.mongabay.com/2020/06/deep-sea-mining-an-environmental-solution-or-impending-catastrophe/

[204] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/315987749_Deep_Sea_Tension_The_Kingdom_of_Tonga_and_Deep_Sea_Minerals ; https://dsm.gsd.spc.int/index.php/2-uncategorised/77-tonga ; https://miningwatch.ca/news/2022/9/28/new-modelling-predicts-deep-sea-mining-tonga-and-metals-company-pollute-hawaii-and 

[205] Dossier on seabed mining, read more: https://ibiworld.eu/en/deep-sea-mining-2/ ; https://ibiworld.eu/en/the-exploitation-of-the-seabed-a-new-self-destructive-limit-for-humanity/ 

[206] https://www.mining.com/featured-article/ranked-worlds-top-10-nickel-projects/

[207] https://metals.co/nori/

[208] https://www.mining.com/featured-article/ranked-worlds-top-10-nickel-projects/ ; https://metals.co/nori/ 

[209] https://metals.co/nori/

[210] https://www.loopnauru.com/nauru-news/nauru-secretary-justice-appointed-international-seabed-authority-85702

[211] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jun/30/deep-sea-mining-could-start-in-two-years-after-pacific-nation-of-nauru-gives-un-ultimatum ; https://hakaimagazine.com/news/why-nauru-is-pushing-the-world-toward-deep-sea-mining/ 

[212] https://hakaimagazine.com/news/why-nauru-is-pushing-the-world-toward-deep-sea-mining/

[213] https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/01/03/mining-the-bottom-of-the-sea

[214] https://metals.co/nori/ ; https://hakaimagazine.com/news/why-nauru-is-pushing-the-world-toward-deep-sea-mining/ 

[215] https://investors.metals.co/news-releases/news-release-details/metals-company-subsidiary-nori-receives-isa-recommendation

[216] https://deep.green/deepgreen-acquires-third-seabed-contract-area-to-explore-for-polymetallic-nodules/ ; https://miningir.com/deepgreen-secures-150m-funding-for-deep-sea-mining/ 

[217] https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/un-start-taking-deep-sea-mining-applications-this-july-2023-03-31/

[218] https://investors.metals.co/news-releases/news-release-details/metals-company-subsidiary-nori-receives-isa-recommendation

[219] https://mailchi.mp/38a6827ea5f9/nori-2022-quarterly-update-11552791

[220] NORI Quarterly Update, 2022, read more: https://mailchi.mp/38a6827ea5f9/nori-2022-quarterly-update-11552791 

[221] https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/race-bottom-deep-sea-minerals-centers-tiny-nauru-2023-04-14/

[222] https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/un-start-taking-deep-sea-mining-applications-this-july-2023-03-31/

[223] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-11/nauru-19-convicted-of-rioting-on-retrial/11787512

[224] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-20/suspended-nauru-mps-facing-jail-as-controversial-trial-begins/8457664

[225] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/05/nauru-suspends-two-more-opposition-mps

[226] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/03/nauru-a-nation-on-the-cusp-of-democratic-calamity

[227] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/08/sprent-dabwido-former-nauru-president-and-leader-of-nauru-19-dies-aged-46

[228] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-20/suspended-nauru-mps-facing-jail-as-controversial-trial-begins/8457664

[229] Trial of the ’19 of Nauru’. Michael Swanson reports on R v Batsiua (2018), NRSC 46, read more: http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/NSWBarAssocNews/2018/119.pdf 

[230] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-20/suspended-nauru-mps-facing-jail-as-controversial-trial-begins/8457664

[231] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/04/nauru-19-at-least-three-members-denied-passports-despite-court-throwing-out-case

[232] Trial of the ’19 of Nauru’. Michael Swanson reports on R v Batsiua (2018), NRSC 46, read more: http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/NSWBarAssocNews/2018/119.pdf 

[233] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-14/nauru-judge-throws-out-anti-government-protest-case/10247366

[234] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/08/sprent-dabwido-former-nauru-president-and-leader-of-nauru-19-dies-aged-46 ; https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-14/nauru-judge-throws-out-anti-government-protest-case/10247366 

[235] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-11/nauru-19-convicted-of-rioting-on-retrial/11787512

[236] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-12/nauru-19-seek-political-asylum-in-australia-retrial-begins/11696480

[237] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-11/nauru-19-convicted-of-rioting-on-retrial/11787512

[238] https://monitor.civicus.org/explore/despite-political-change-nauru-judiciary-convicts-2015-protesters/

[239] https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/413765/last-of-nauru-19-released

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