Friday, July 25, 2008

18,857 firms: one registered address. Ugland House goes to Washington.

In its report to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, the U.S. Government Accountability Office states that Ugland House, George Town, Cayman Islands, whose sole tenant is the law firm Maples & Calder, is now the registered office of 18,857 distinct legal entities. This news was greeted with some incredulity at the Committee's hearings on 24th July, where it was noted that 5 per cent of these entities were wholly U.S. owned, and up to half had a U.S. billing address.

Addressing the Committee's hearings, TJN senior adviser Jack Blum said it was completely unacceptable for offshore corporations to continue to be treated as beneficial owners and he proposed that, amongst measures to tackle tax evasion the qualified intermediary programme, which was comprehensively abused by the U.S. division of Swiss private banking giant UBS, should quite simply be abolished.

In a dramatic intervention during discussions with Inland Revenue Service Commissioner Frank Ng, Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) showed his exasparation at the lack of progress being made in tackling tax havens: "I don't think you guys are taking this seriously. I'm all done defending you."

Referring to the difficulties facing national authorities in a world of globalised financial markets, Jack commented:

"The regulators are in the position of police on a freeway without a speed limit using bicycles to stop Ferraris. The tax avoiders and tax cheats see national borders as their friends and freely use secrecy jurisdictions and jurisdictions with lax trust, corporation and insurance laws to create structures that hide money from tax collectors and law enforcement."

You can watch Jack's testimony, and that of other expert witnesses called to the Finance Committee hearing here.




2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you guys LIKE paying tax? What's wrong with structuring one's affairs within existing tax law to your own benefit?

3:15 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd LIKE corporations to pay their fair share so the tax burden isn't only on us!

7:34 am  

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