Tuesday, January 27, 2009

International News - Jan 27

** Also see our searchable archive of past story summaries; and Offshore Watch for more stories. **

U.S. Tax Case Against UBS Grows Wider; Talks to Settle
Jan 26 (WS Journal) - U.S. tax investigators believe the number of American clients that UBS helped to avoid taxes could be much higher than the previously disclosed estimate of about 17,000. Investigators are also looking into whether other parts of the bank besides the wealth-management unit were involved in helping clients avoid U.S. taxes.

Banks failed to register subsidiaries in 'oversight'
Jan 25 (Observer) - Two of Britain's biggest banks have failed to register the location of their subsidiaries in what appears to be a contravention of British company law. TUC boss Brendan Barber believes the "oversight" is part of a worrying trend in which banks that are now receiving hundreds of billions of pounds in treasury support have been using secretive tax havens

UN crime chief says drug money flowed into banks
Jan 25 (Reuters) - The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Brussels looks for lost VAT in the Channel
Jan 25 (Tax Research UK) - Some of the leading online CD and DVD retailers in the UK continue to avoid taxes, depriving Treasury coffers of hundreds of millions of pounds and pushing many independent music stores out of business. Richard Murphy looks into why the Treasury turns a blind eye to this tax abuse.

Obama to influence Hongkong as tax havens
Jan 19 (International Business Times) - Hong Kong and Singapore may soon come under increased scrutiny from the US, if incoming President Barack Obama follows through with his pledge to crack down on abusive "tax havens" which "peddle secrecy" and "cloak tax evasion and other misconduct," according to Withers law firm.

Top Canada court boosts tax avoidance rule
Jan 23 (Lawyers Weekly) - The Supreme Court has ramped up the importance of the Income Tax Act’s general anti-avoidance rule (GAAR) with what one expert calls “the most significant tax decision in 70 years.”

U.S. and U.K. Could Fall Out over Tax Havens
Jan 25 (Seeking Alpha) - The lack of desire on the part of the UK to participate in a new international crackdown on financial secrecy and tax havens could bring about some tension in the so called “special relationship” between the UK and the US.

Editorial: To be Forewarned is to be Forearmed
Jan 21 (Cayman Net News) – The public and private sector leaders in the Cayman Islands should immediately take urgent steps to identify the possible exposure of our financial services industry to a mass pullout by foreign banks now controlled by their respective governments and the economic and social implications such an event will have on the Cayman Islands.

German ex-high-flyer in tax trial
Jan 22 (BBC) - The former head of Germany's Deutsche Post, Klaus Zumwinkel, has gone on trial for tax evasion. He pleaded guilty to charges of avoiding paying nearly 1m euros in taxes (more than £900,000) in 2003-07.

Pirates in Pinstripes Sink Britain
Jan 22 (Op Ed News) - Even in this crisis, the British government still offers refuge to pinstriped pirates - Britain's tax havens fuel crime and corruption on a huge scale but, for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, keeping business happy is still the priority.

Tim Geithner's tax evasion
Jan 22 (Telegraph Blogs) - THE US senate finance committee has voted for Tim Geithner, tax evader, to become Treasury secretary. He is likely to be confirmed by a vote on the senate floor soon, thanks to the virtually free pass he has been given by the media, the toothless opposition of the Republicans or the magnitude of Obama's first betrayal of his ideals.

EU To Propose Climate Tax
Jan 26 (Environmental Leader) - The European Union is expected to propose a climate tax on greenhouse gases from 2013-2020. The tax could help raise $200 billion and help poor countries prepare for global warming, Reuters reports.

Raju under lens for capital gains tax fraud
Jan 27 (Economic Times) – The tax authorities are taking a hard look at how the disgraced promoter of Satyam Computer Services, B Ramalinga Raju, used money raised through pledging of shares. The move will enable the income-tax department to trace some of the undisclosed income of Mr Raju, his family members and their investment firms—an exercise that is distinctly different from the current probe on diversion of Satyam’s funds.


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