Tuesday, July 01, 2008

International News - July 1

A list of recent news stories of interest. Also see Offshore Watch and the TJN news archive.

Florida finance and Swiss Secrecy
July 1 (TJN) - "There is very little evidence that the reports banks are required to submit have been a deterrent to illegal activity or a method of identifying criminal behavior." This is what the Florida Bankers Association said about the U.S. Patriot Act and the Bank Secrecy Act.

TAX HAVENS CREATING TURMOIL: The Tax Justice Network submission to the UK Treasury Select Committee
June 30 (TJN) - The Tax Justice Network welcomes the UK Treasury Select Committee hearings on Offshore Financial Centres (OFCs) that start on 1 July 2008. TJN-UK has submitted evidence to the Committee and with its agreement is publishing that submission today.

MPs look at role of tax havens in loans crisis
June 29 (Observer) - UK MPs will this week launch a wide-ranging inquiry into whether the trillions of dollars flowing through secretive tax havens have created the conditions for the current global financial instability.

PRESS RELEASE: Country By Country Reporting will make global markets more transparent
June 30th (TJN) - As France takes over the rotating presidency European Union on July 1 it must take the lead in demanding radical improvement in the transparency of global financial markets. One of the most powerful and cost-effective ways to boost transparency would be to introduce Country by Country Reporting into international accounting standards.

Catholic organisations on tax and financing for development
June 25 (TJN) - We warmly welcome a new report by CIDSE, an alliance of 16 European and North American Catholic development organisations. It is concerned with the crucial issue of "Finance for Development" - and helps prepare the ground for the Doha summit meeting in November and December this year.

Revoke UBS' banking license
Things are looking so bad for UBS that media reports are speculating that: "In a worst case scenario, UBS could lose its banking license which could have adverse effects on the global private banking franchise." Quite right. UBS must, quite simply, have its banking license taken away.

Japan rejigs tax rules to draw more foreign funds
June 27 (Reuters) - Japan has relaxed its tax code so foreign asset managers and hedge funds can avoid dual taxation, as part of Tokyo's push to revive itself as a global finance centre.

Tax scandal leaves Swiss giant reeling
June 29 (Guardian) – UBS could lose its licence in America after an official confessed to illicit tactics that helped clients avoid the Revenue.

They’re very confused in the Channel Islands
June 28 (Tax Research UK) - Deeply confusing and contradictory messages are coming out of the Channel Islands, regarding the transparency and accountability of their practices.

June 29 (Tax Research) - The Jersey Evening Post has reported that: “Independence is well within Jersey’s grasp. In a document that goes further towards setting out a blueprint for independence than anything yet published, the Constitution Review Group found that there were no insurmountable reasons why the Island could not become totally self-governing.”

G8 leaders ready to backtrack on aid
June 29 (FT) - Leaders of the Group of Eight rich nations are set to backtrack on their landmark pledge at the Gleneagles summit in 2005 to increase development aid to Africa to $25bn a year.

Will Jamaica beat T&T, Dom Rep to an offshore financial centre?
June 25 (Jamaica Observer) - Reuters reported from New York that Trinidad and Tobago planned to open an international financial centre to compete with Miami and Panama in September, which could include a commodities exchange, as part of their plan to diversify their economy into financial services and away from energy.

Tax Performance in Poor Countries - Country Report Uganda
IPRA Working Paper No 21 A look at Uganda’s tax system and outcomes. December, 2007 .

MTN Ghana denies tax evasion charges
June 27 (IT Web) - MTN has denied it is evading its tax and social responsibilities in Ghana, stating it was the top taxpayer in Ghana in the past three consecutive years.

State banking trade group asks for relief from regulatory requirements
June 27 (Orlando Sentinel) - Florida's banking trade group this called for regulatory relief from rules requiring the banks to "police" their customers. The Florida Bankers Association said that despite the intent of the laws "there is very little evidence that the reports banks are required to submit have been a deterrent to illegal activity or a method of identifying criminal behavior."

Britain's biggest private companies
June 29 (Times) - This year’s list of top private companies shows that demergers and delistings, many of them backed by private equity, have changed the business landscape

Zuma settles his debts with taxman
June 29 (Times, South Africa) - ANC president Jacob Zuma, who may be South Africa’s next president, got away with a R300 fine for failing to declare his income to the South African Revenue Service (Sars) for nine years.

Baugur in talks over move to Britain
June 29 (FT) - Lawyers for Baugur, the Icelandic investment group, are investigating whether to redomicile one of Iceland’s most famous companies to the UK, to avoid the possibility of Mr Johannesson’s being banned as a company director following the end of a six-year legal battle this month. The Supreme Court in Reykjavik last month upheld a three-month suspended prison sentence for book-keeping offences.

House approves middle-class tax relief bill
Jun 25 (Reuters) - The US House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill that would protect about 25 million taxpayers from paying a tax that originally was meant for only the very wealthy.

UK private equity '07 investment rose 37 pct -BVCA
June 26 (Reuters) - Investments by members of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA) rose by more than a third in 2007, a report by the trade body and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP showed on Thursday.

Ben Fogle's Country Diary
June 29 (Telegraph) - The new Crown Dependency of Forvik, little more than a week old, has been besieged not by hoards of people wishing to emigrate to the remote Shetland Isle, but by press and camera crews following the creation of the world's newest "nation". The new Crown dependency is to be a tax haven with no income tax, VAT or council tax.

Dutch 52% carried interest tax vote postponed
26 Jun (PE News) - The Netherlands has postponed a vote on a Bill that would raise the maximum tax rate on the profits paid to private equity fund managers to 52% - the highest in Europe - following criticism the Bill is too vague.

A life less taxing
June 26 (FT) - Monaco, the tiny principality wedged between the foot of France’s southern Alps and the Mediterranean, is a magnet for the wealthy. Its allure is easy to explain: glamour, a benign climate, tight security, good transport links – and very little in the way of direct taxes.

SFO chief backs overseas bribe case deals
June 29 (FT) - Companies involved in bribery abroad could avoid prosecution by admitting guilt and paying financial penalties under US-style plans to be floated by the head of the UK Serious Fraud Office.

SFO lacks vital skills, says probe
June 11 (FT) - Britain’s flagship anti-fraud watchdog is unfocused, demoralised and short on vital investigative skills, a stinging report by a former New York prosecutor said on Tuesday, highlighting reasons why conviction rates are much lower than in the US.

Amazon attempting to dodge sales tax collection requirements
June 25 (The Industry Standard) – More and more states are focusing on Amazon.com’s sales tax collection strategy, which offers "lower" prices to its customers by forgoing the collecting of sales tax.


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