Friday, January 09, 2009

International News - Jan 9

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

Sarkozy and Merkel warn on finance regulation
Jan 8 (FT) - President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday warned the US and the banking industry not to thwart European efforts to tighten financial regulations this year. Ms Merkel told the conference that she would “react very strongly” if the financial community tried to block government efforts to tighten regulation.

Irish tax havens plan
Jan 7 (Manx Radio) - Islands off the coast of the Republic of Ireland could soon be competing with the Isle of Man, by going tax-free. 

The Gaeltacht Authority says a special tax incentive scheme could be introduced in the counties of Donegal, Mayo, Galway and Cork. 

One part of the scheme would see people living on the islands for at least six months each year could earn 100,000 Euros a year tax free for 10 years.

The plans have yet to be considered by the Irish government.

The danger from GATS
Jan 8 (Tax Research) - Linda Kaucher from the LSE writes on a GATS deal (General Agreement on Trade in Services). Signing up to GATS will make financial deregulation irreversible. Gordon Brown is the main proponent of financial deregulation. The push for the GATS came from transnational capital, mainly Citicorp, AIG, and American Express. Whatever the arguments on agricultural and manufactured goods, services liberalisation is another world - deeper, more intrusive meta regulation controlling and overriding national regulatory processes, and favouring the rights of big business over democracy.

Controlled by the corporations
Jan 8 (Guardian) - By Prem Sikka - The Companies Act 1985 (now part of the Companies Act 2006), subject to various formalities, allows companies to repurchase their shares. Companies could pay dividends (which attract income tax) but share repurchases are treated as capital gains, which attract considerable tax exemptions. Executive remuneration is also linked to share prices. Without creating an iota of additional wealth, directors can increase earnings per share, their bonuses and share options.

Pressured by I.R.S., UBS Is Closing Secret Accounts
Jan 8 (NY Times) - Under pressure from federal authorities, the Swiss bank UBS is closing the hidden offshore accounts of its well-heeled American clients, potentially allowing their secrets to spill into the open. UBS will transfer the assets to other banks or other divisions within UBS, or will mail checks directly to the account holders, creating paper trails for federal prosecutors.

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