Special purpose vehicle

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Legal Entities of the World™

A spotter’s guide to corporate wildlife

An espievie going about its charitable purposes yesterday

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Special purpose vehicle
/ˈspɛʃ(ə)l ˈpəːpəs ˈviːɪk(ə)/ (n.)

A unique species of joint stock company[1] first discovered in the lush forests of George Town, Grand Cayman by dour Scottish naturalist A. J. N. Calder in 1926.


For many years Calder believed the creature he had found, and which he taxonomised as the “common Cayman exempted espievie” (genus consortium restrictum culpam caymanium), was unique in the world. But Calder’s, and our, world was repeatedly rocked over the next thirty years as naturalists found variants elsewhere in many different financial and regulatory climates.

The first to do so was L. B. G. T. Appleby who discovered the Bermudan reinsurance espievie, not too far from the Caribbean along the Gulf Stream, of course, in 1939.

Fourteen years later, retired botanist Herbert Fonseca came across neat piles of tax losses when on a forest walk with his grand-children, which the children managed to trace all the way to back to a mating pair of film espievies, concealed in dense thicket of blind trusts. The species had never before seen in Panama.[2]

Then, in 1964, Jersey paleontologist Ichabod Mourant discovered a colony of “Oeics” (the word is derived from the Jèrriais for “imaginary legal entity” and is pronounced “Oik”) nesting in the archive stacks of Guernsey’s Library for the Illiterate.

Since then, espievies have proven robust migrants and flourished in many fiscal climates all around the world.


The espievie was first bred in captivity in the nineteen-sixties, in a famous collaboration between Calder and Godfrey and Maginot Maple. At the time, Calder was general manager of the children’s orphanage founded by George Ugland, and the Maple brothers ran George Town’s zoological menagerie.

The site of their collaboration is occupied today by Ugland House, an austere spanish-fronted hacienda which headquarters an international breeding programme for espievies of all kinds, meaning that the continued survival of this freak of financial biology is, for the foreseeable future, assured.

Modern use

Most espievies are harmless and even friendly and can be useful around the garden, mulching up tax liabilities and so on. But occasionally they turn nasty. Poor Andrew Fastow was hounded to prison by three of his own raptors. Herbert Fonseca, though he successfully bred Panamanian tax espievies for nearly sixty years, was finally undone when an unfortunate leakage of publicity wiped out his whole breeding population, and a significant part of the offshore wealth management industry, in 2016.

See also


  1. Also known as an “espievie” and, in accounting circles for some reason, as an “espiecie” — rest assured it is the same beast.
  2. Fonseca should have realised trouble was in store: the very thing about film partnerships is that they are not meant to be traceable.