Poor expatriates. They thought they came to Cyprus for the waters. But like Rick in Casablanca, they were misinformed. Wave or no wave, they're in the desert now. And there's no chartered plane waiting to rescue either them or their wads of cash hostages.
Ironically, among the tax-evading conglomerates set to be cheated out of millions is the internet dating site called Ashley Madison which specializes in extramarital hookups. The Avid Life Media transglobal pimping outfit is, for whatever reason, being featured prominently on the New York Times homepage as a poster child for hapless tax-evaders marooned on Cyprus. (Maybe because multinational accounting firms aren't sexy?) From the article:
Only a few weeks ago it set up an office here as a base for its international operations, attracted to Cyprus — as hundreds of other foreign businesses have been — because of its reputation for financial stability, a low corporate tax rate, a friendly banking environment and most of all, a strong rule of law.International adultery has taken a huge hit, thanks to the greed of the international plutocracy. The skimming of depositor accounts has been heretofore unheard of. There hasn't been this much cheater-on-cheater outrage since Bernie Madoff had the chutzpah to scam a slew of fellow millionaires out of their life savings. And now, this. Avid Media's 18 million members worldwide will be left hanging, the company's whole world crumbling. They may even have to pull up stakes from Cyprus, even if there's no letter of transit for their cash.
Sure, the Avid Life Media executives were aware that a banking crisis was brewing, but they had ventured ahead. They were assured in part by a promise from President Nicos Anastasiades when he was elected in February that he would soon arrange an equitable bailout with the international organizations that have guided the euro zone through four previous bailouts while keeping bank depositors whole.
“We went from paradise to hell in a minute,” said Keith Lalonde, Avid Life Media’s top executive here. He recounted the cellphone call he got from his financial adviser a week ago Saturday while strolling under a bright sun on Limassol’s fine white beach.
“We have a problem,” the adviser told him. The Cypriot government had just declared it would seize nearly 10 percent of the €2 million, or $2.6 million, the company had on deposit in Cyprus — and about 7 percent of Mr. Lalonde’s personal funds — to help secure its bailout.
While The Times skims over the actual nature of Avid Life's business model, the piece is rife with humor, recounting the escapades of a billionaire pimp scurrying from cash machine to cash machine to withdraw money while he still can, expressing shock that any government would dare cheat him out of millions of Euros. Just like every other greedy, plutocratic job-creator on the planet, Avid Life CEO Noel Biderman is bemoaning the "lack of confidence" that the extraction of wealth has instilled in his sensitive psyche.
Serves him right, though. A former entertainment lawyer, Biderman once boasted to the L.A. Times of milking the financial meltdown of America for all it was worth. Since Wall Street greed destroyed jobs and homes and families, but left people too broke to get a divorce, he just promoted his cheating website as an alternative:
The money-saving solution? Seek carnal comfort in others. He also made an analogy between his extramarital dating service and handing out condoms to teens.
"Some people say it promotes promiscuity," he said. "But if you don't do it, you get behavior that's way more harmful to society. Infidelity has been around a lot longer than Ashley Madison."
He believes that hearing about the service in a commercial is not going to persuade anyone to have an affair. "It's a decision they've come to already. All I'm saying is, don't do it in the workplace where it could result in someone losing their job, don't go to a singles dating service and lie about your status, don't hire a prostitute. Given that affairs are going to happen no matter what, maybe we should see Ashley Madison as a safe alternative."Oh, and in case you were wondering, Ashley Madison does not even exist. She's a made-up marketing ploy -- kind of like Betty Crocker, the Sunmaid Raisin Girl, Marie Callender and Mrs. Butterworth.
Oh well. As Ashley says, "Life is short. Have an affair."
We'll always have Cyprus.