Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Links Mar 2

Ex-UBS Banker Is Said to Have Been Informant in Inquiry New York Times
Mar 1 - "Taken together, the criminal charges have dealt a further blow to Swiss bank secrecy as private bankers who were once colleagues increasingly inform on one another to the authorities."

"I'm a true Scot", says Connery Daily Mail

Feb 21 - The former James Bond star, actor Sean Connery - who left Scotland in the 1950s to live in the Bahamas - has been a financial and political supporter of the Scottish National Party campaigning for independence from the UK. Attempts to silence critics have backfired over a question of income tax. Connery revealed he has paid £6.5million to the UK exchequer since 1987. What he failed to point out was that had he remained living in Scotland, his contribution could have been £20million higher.

The world's largest corporation uses Spain as a tax haven El Pais (In Spanish)
Feb 27 - ExxonMobil has a subsidiary in Spain, which has 1 employee, and which in 2 years made a profit of 9 million Euros - on which not a single euro of taxes was paid. The largest company in the world uses its Spanish subsidiary just to save on taxes.

Belgium approves transfers from Total to a tax haven Trends.be (In French)
Mar 1 - Belgian authorities decided, bizarrely, in favor of approving transfers by
Total Belgium to Bernuda. It is also strange that a company suddenly requested a ruling for an activity that has already existed for years.

India: Pranab gets tough with tax havens not sharing data Hindu Business Line
Mar 1 -
Transactions with entities in ‘non-cooperative' jurisdictions that do not effectively exchange information with India may soon attract TDS (tax deduction at source) of at least 30 per cent. This is one of the several ‘anti-avoidance' measures that the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, has proposed in Budget 2011-12, to discourage residents from transacting with entities in ‘non-cooperative' jurisdictions. See Richard Murphy's comments: Tax Research UK.

The butler, the housekeeper and the British Virgin Islands in Oxfordshire Tax Research UK
Mar 1 -
A BVI trust owns an estate and employs staff in the UK. Richard Murphy comments: "As I often note, secrecy jurisdictions are places that intentionally create regulation for the primary benefit and use of those not resident in their geographical domain. That regulation is designed to undermine the legislation or regulation of another jurisdiction." Such types of arrangement are not uncommon. See earlier TJN blog In trusts we trust.

Could Africa's lost billions end poverty at a stroke? The Guardian

Mar 1 - "There was some serious talk of tackling tax havens in the brief period after the financial crisis, when systemic change seemed possible. But now corporates and high net-worth individuals have reasserted their dubious right to hide vital information about their activities, and progress seems unlikely without concerted political action, so the campaigns emerging on this issue are to be welcomed."

HSBC condemned as five fatcats share nearly £ 35 million Daily Mirror

Mar 1 - "Campaigners reacted with fury yesterday after HSBC paid five of its bosses an average £7million each. ...The public will not forgive our politicians for allowing bankers to award themselves billions of pounds while we pay to clean up the mess they caused.”
Note: HSBC is exposed by our friends at Global Witness as having laundered proceeds of kleptocrats - see Undue Diligence: How Banks Do Business with Corrupt Regimes and International Thief Thief: How British Banks are Complicit in Nigerian Corruption.

Answer to Financial Failure: Tax Banks More Treasure Islands

Mar 1 - Nick Shaxson on comments by Adair Turner, chairman of Britain’s Financial Services Authority, reminding everyone that financial liberalisation doesn’t seem to have delivered the goods.

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