Wednesday, May 14, 2008

International News Links

A selection of stories from the last few days. A longer history of news links is available here. Also see Offshore Watch.

Tax evasion 'costs the lives of 1,000 children a day'
Guardian (May 12) - Illegal tax evasion by companies is depriving the developing world of $160bn (£82bn) a year, which could be used to prevent the deaths of 1,000 children every day, Christian Aid says today. (The Christian Aid report is here )

Press release: Equitable Taxation Not Aid Will End The Looting Of Africa
A TJN4Africa press release, with recommendations for change. From a well-attended tax justice seminar held in Zambia. Times of Zambia report is here

Zambia and British banks
May 19 (TJN) - The Zambian government says it has recovered money and assets worth nearly $60m stolen during the rule of former President Frederick Chiluba. The allegedly stolen money passed through bank accounts in London. An older story from the Times of Zambia mentions Jersey, the Isle of Man, Belgium, and elsewhere. Also see this: and see this older Tax Research blog:

Hacks v beaks
The growing use of English courts by foreign libel litigants is arousing increasing concern among free-speech campaigners: “manna from heaven for deeply illiberal and fantastically wealthy ex-Soviet oligarchs and Middle-Eastern oil tycoons. Everyone knows the potency of the English laws and everyone takes it into account, at an incalculable cost to free speech.” A matter of great concern for TJN.

UK Taxman finds back door into Swiss accounts
May 11 (Times UK) - UK Revenue & Customs is linking up with the German tax authorities to get information about those who have deposited their ill-gotten gains in Switzerland. “If the Revenue can use the Germans as a back door into Switzerland, that is a major coup. . . . Dubai and Singapore are about the only places left who have made it abundantly clear that they are not going to divulge information.

Larry the Loophole
ON private equity, the loophole for "carried interest," capital gains and more. Cartoon, starring Larry the Loophole. A petition for US presidential candidates.

Tax black hole
May 12 (Guardian) - Why isn't UK chancellor Alistair Darling clawing back the enormous tax avoided (legal, but immoral) or evaded (illegal) to help balance the books without putting up taxes for the rest of the population? A recent TUC pamphlet written by the tax accountant Richard Murphy found that tax avoidance and tax planning by very rich individuals amounts to £13bn a year and by companies a further £12bn a year.

New State-by-State Data Show Majority of Bush Tax Cuts for Capital Gains and Dividends Go to the Richest One Percent
May 13 (CTJ) – Clinton and Obama might allow the Bush tax breaks for capital gains and dividends to expire, and Obama might go farther by making the tax rate for capital gains closer to the rate for wages. A new report from Citizens for Tax Justice finds that most of the benefits of the tax cuts go to the richest one percent. Revenue from the capital gains tax was much higher during the Clinton administration, when the tax rate on capital gains was higher. State-by-state fact sheets:

Halliburton unit's role in Nigeria faces probe
May 10 (FT) - US anti-bribery investigators are targeting a former Halliburton subsidiary over its work on a key Royal Dutch Shell project in Nigeria, widening a corruption probe into the country's troubled oil industry.

UK Treasury backs down from taxing foreign sport stars
May 13 (Accountancy Age) - HM Treasury has backed down from taxing foreign sport stars’ global income on the threat of losing out in the selection to host top sports events such as Uefa Champions League Final in 2011.

Investors Say Tax Increase Wouldn't Alter Strategy (Update1)
May 14 (Bloomberg) -- Affluent investors say a small increase in the capital gains tax, as suggested by Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, wouldn't affect their investment decisions.

PARADIS FISCAUX : LA GRANDE ÉVASION Docu. - Société
An in-depth documentary on Tax havens to be aired on May 15 on France 2. With plenty of material from the Tax Justice Network. In French.

KPMG hired for Jamaica offshore centre study
May 11 (Jamaica Gleaner) - Jamaica has contracted the consultancy arm of auditing firm KPMG to undertake an assessment of the local market for the establishment of an international financial services centre (IFSC).

Jamaica's fiscal crisis
May 11 (Jamaica Gleaner) - Eighty per cent of the company taxes and 50 per cent of the property taxes owing are not being collected or paid. This is a good example of how the fiscal crisis plays itself out as a political crisis.

India silent on German Bank disclosure offer
May 10 (NewInd Press) - NEARLY three months ago, Germany obtained a list of account holders at a bank in Liechtenstein, a tiny Alpine principality that is also a tax haven. The Germans offered the names to any country that asked for it. Curiously, India, with a history of black money stashed abroad, has shown no interest in the list; it still has not made a request for details.

Not paying their dues
May 12 (Guardian) – by Prem Sikka - Global companies are evading tax in the developing world. The money lost could go towards alleviating poverty and saving lives. The tax avoidance industry is the mafia of our times.

The well-off can enjoy the über-rich treatment
May 9 (FT) - Private banking is no longer the preserve of the super-rich as large banks and smaller wealth managers are increasingly bringing bespoke services to the masses.

$1.4 trillion Indian ‘black’ money in Swiss banks
A 2006 report of the Swiss Banking Association dug out by an Indian private channel, CNN-IBN, claims Indians are the biggest depositors of black money in banks located in Switzerland. India with $1456 billion or $1.4 trillion has more money in Swiss banks than rest of the world combined. (NB these figures have been published in several places in the Indian media; TJN has not been able to confirm the existence of such a report.)

Officials say multinationals rip off gov’t with transfer pricing
May 12 (Thanhniennews) - Slim tax payments collected from foreign-invested businesses in Vietnam led legislators to accuse multinationals of transfer pricing at Saturday’s National Assembly session in Hanoi. The government filed a report saying 2006’s tax revenues collected from foreign-invested businesses were around VND1.97 trillion (US$122 million) less than expected.

Tax heaven or hell?
May 11 (Times UK) - Is tax exile all it’s cracked up to be? John Arlidge weighs the pros and cons for the day when you take your money and run.

Bribery: the net tightens but holes remain
May 9 (FT) - The list of big name corporations facing corruption allegations just keeps growing. This week saw details emerge of alleged bribery by Alstom, the French engineering group. It follows ongoing investigations into Siemens of Germany and BAE Systems of the UK. The growing list is emblematic of the ever-widening impact of the international drive against corporate corruption.

Clegg says 40% should mean 40%
May 12 (Tax Research) - UK Liberal Democrats have abandoned their plans for a 50 per cent top rate of income tax for high earners, but say that the 40 per cent top rate should mean 40 per cent

Ex-Banker From UBS Is Indicted in Tax Case
May 14 – NY Times - Some of the secrets of Switzerland’s biggest bank were put on display on Tuesday as federal authorities indicted a former UBS banker on charges of helping a wealthy American real estate developer evade taxes.

Top Investigator: Much of Bulgaria's Capital Comes from Money Laundering
May 9 (Turkish Weekly) - The Director of the National Investigation Service (NIS) Boyko Naydenov stated Thursday that much of the capital in Bulgaria came from "dirty money", that were turned into fresh investments though laundering.

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