Friday, March 04, 2011

Links Mar 4

Openness can help lift the curse of resources Financial Times
Mar 4 - Article by George Soros, who helped launch Publish What You Pay in 2002. "Those promoting greater transparency in the natural resources industries are helping to reinforce powerful historical forces, which will unlock transformational sums of money to improve the lives of millions of people in some of the most fragile countries in the world."

See also EU closer to U.S. style reform Financial Times
Mar 4 - Momentum is building across the European Union to replicate the corporate transparency enforcements contained in the US Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. See Richard Murphy's comments.

Czech Republic continues crackdown on tax havens The Prague Post

Mar 2 - "The government is poised to join the global push to crack down on tax evaders after passing draft legislation to facilitate bilateral exchange of tax information with Guernsey and the Isle of Man." An apparently assertive stance, but again fig-leafism. We hear in this article, again, the oft-touted adage of preventing fishing expeditions - an excuse for allowing tax-dodging business to continue as usual. See: On Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.

Hedge funds head for Malta to escape regulation Financial Times

Mar 4 - Race to the bottom. The Mediterranean island is emerging alongside traditional rivals to London, such as Swiss towns Geneva and Zug, as another European location for hedge fund managers keen to maintain flexible operating arrangements – and avoid tax. Malta ranks 21st in the Financial Secrecy Index. See Gordon Brown's commentary on the need for coordinated international regulation in the global financial architecture.

Slovakia challenges Eurozone Tax Plan Financial Times

Mar 3 - Race to the bottom. Slovakia is opposing a scheme to harmonise the Eurozone's corporate taxes.

India: Budget opens back door for black money Business Standard

Mar 4 - Budget proposals allowing foreign individuals to invest in mutual funds and halve the tax on dividends from overseas arms of Indian companies may provide a window for undeclared income parked abroad to enter the country. Tax experts said many would use this to bring black money and cash stashed in tax havens into the country.

India: Supreme Court - Interrogate in custody those who have stashed money abroad Business Standard

Mar 4 - Supreme Court judges hearing a case regarding black money parked abroad observed that “the nation’s sovereignty is at stake” and those who have kept illicit money should be arrested and “custodially interrogated”.

HSBC escapes tax using U.S. as a tax haven Treasure Islands

Mar 3 - Nick Shaxson on tax dodging by HSBC, which is shelling out massive bonuses. See also HSBC boss stays offshore for employment purposes The Guardian Feb 22.

Sharp drop in Standard Chartered tax payment The Telegraph

Mar 3 -
Standard Chartered's tax contribution in the UK more than halved in 2010 – despite the Asian-focused bank generating record global profits that soared by 19pc. At the same time, Standard Chartered is the only major British-based bank to have raised its bonus pool last year.

Tax Havens and the French Thinkers Treasure Islands
Mar 4 - On how tax havenry is a system perpetrated by a power elite "The rise of tax havenry, which has encouraged once again the scattering of parts of a business around the world, and the envelopment of this business in secrecy, has brought us back to this age-old problem. If you can’t see what the merchants are up to, they will acquire enormous power. Courtesy of offshore."

Former UBS Banker Bailed in Tax Evasion Case swissinfo

Mar 3 - A Swiss banker who was arrested for aiding and abetting tax evasion has been released on bail in the U.S. The banker, who now works for Credit Suisse, is charged with aiding around 150 UBS clients evade paying taxes on assets worth up to $500 million between 1999 and 2005.

Sticking Boots into tax avoidance London Evening Standard

Mar 3 - British Labour MP John Mann has tabled a Commons motion which "deplores corporate tax avoidance; believes formerly UK-based companies such as Alliance Boots/Boots UK Ltd re-registering in tax havens is unacceptable corporate behaviour in this time of public spending cuts". Boots asserts it does good charitable works, but as the commentator in this piece points out : "Hmmm… All made possible by prudently avoiding as much tax as the company can." See earlier blog The Tax dodging behind your chemo.

Commentary on the annual conference of the Australian Tax Office
Mar 3 - On Project Wickenby, a government taskforce set up to investigate tax avoidance, tax evasion and money laundering:
"The real important message of Wickenby is to the community that there's a real risk for people to take these sort of abusive activities ... we're seeing a reduction in flows of money to tax havens like Liechtenstein for instance. So, basically we are having an impact in terms of deterring people from doing that." For more on Project Wickenby, see for instance Dec 30, 2010

Angry at the banks? Of course we are! The Guardian

Mar 2 -No less a figure than Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, has laid the blame for cuts in public services and welfare squarely at the door of the City. "The price of the financial crisis is being borne by people who did absolutely nothing to cause it."


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