Saturday, January 31, 2009

Links - Jan 31

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

We need more than sticking plasters, warns leading Labour backbencher
Jan 29 (Independent) - A prominent Labour backbencher has warned Gordon Brown that he needs to find a "new language" to explain to the public the actions that the Government is taking in the recession. He urged Mr Brown to launch "two crusades". One would be on "tax justice", including minimum tax rates throughout the incomes scale so that the rich paid their fair share and joining President Obama's crackdown on offshore tax havens.

Dear Western banking establishment,
Re. your unauthorised overdraft.
I notice that your unauthorised credit facility from international lenders of last resort now totals approximately $10 trillion. As a taxpayer and therefore your largest shareholder I would be grateful if you could repay this facility at your earliest convenience.
I would also be grateful if the strategists and economists who work for you could abstain from publishing their unsolicited opinions about resolving the banking crisis within the financial media.

BRITISCHER PREMIER IN DER KRITIK
Web translation here
Jan 28 (Der Spiegel) – Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine takes a look at British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s credentials – on the one hand claiming to favour transparency in international finance, while on the other, quietly backing the tax haven world. Quoting TJN’s John Christensen widely.

Brazil Freezes $2 Billion Amid Money-Laundering Probe (Update3)
Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Brazil froze more than $2 billion in accounts outside the country as part of a money-laundering case involving Brazilian investors including banker Daniel Dantas.

New initiatives to tackle International tax avoidance
Jan 26 (HMRevenue and Customs, UK) - The Right Honourable Stephen Timms MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury said: "The vast majority of taxpayers pay their fair share and do not seek to avoid their financial responsibilities. The avoidance industry seeks to profit from enriching those who are prepared to seek an unfair advantage over those who play by the rules. This in turn denies member countries vital financial resources.

Record capital flight from Argentina last year: 23 billion USD
Money leaving Argentina trebled in 2008 compared to the previous year and was 23% higher to the great capital flight of the second half of 2001 and first half of 2002 which totalled 18.7 billion US dollars and triggered the collapse of the banking system and melting of the economy, according to a report in La Nacion.

Put squalid tax havens out of business - Red Ken
Jan 26 (Guernsey Press) - Mayor of London Ken Livingstone is the latest high-profile commentator to target closing down Guernsey as a ‘tax haven’. Livingstone joked about invading the island to achieve this aim and pointed out that de Gaulle tried to prevent tax avoidance in Monaco by sending tanks to the principality’s border. In an open letter to Gordon Brown he talks more seriously about international changes creating the chance to ‘squeeze squalid little tax havens out of existence’.

Please don’t do it Zambia: you must tax copper
Jan 27 (Tax Research) - Some stories really hurt. This one in the FT does: “Zambia, Africa’s biggest copper producer, appears poised to drop plans to secure more of its mineral wealth.” This is a disaster if it’s true.

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.

A runaway train
Jan 28 (Guardian, by Alex Cobham) - The question: What economic system would really benefit humanity?
The same secrecy and lack of regulatory coordination that caused the crisis also imposes other costs on developing countries. This is especially clear in relation to tax. Multinational companies' and rich individuals' ability to exploit tax havens and hide their profits is depriving poor countries of staggering amounts of revenue.

Transparency, Accountability Key to Restructuring of Global Financial System
Jan 28 (GFIP) - As policy makers, business leaders, and institutional stakeholders convene in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, Global Financial Integrity (GFI) urges participants to call for greatly improved financial transparency and accountability. The importance of one of the Forum’s themes, “Addressing the Challenges of Sustainability and Development,” is underscored by a new GFI report titled “Illicit Capital Flight Out of Developing Countries: 2002-2006.” The key finding of the report is that developing countries lose as much as $1 trillion dollars a year in illicit capital flight as a result of illegal commerce, corruption, and tax evasion.

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