Friday, January 27, 2012

Links Jan 27

Pariah regimes play cat and mouse with financial watchdogs Reuters
Jan 27 - " 'Our current arrangements for the creation of trusts and the setting up of companies anonymously have created an environment which is permitting kleptocrats to move their loot around (and commit) tax evasion on a monstrous scale,' said Anthea Lawson, head of the Banks and Corruption Campaign at Global Witness" - " 'It is so easy for extended families or powerful people with tame lawyers to set up fronts which make it immensely difficult to find (them) out,' said John Christensen" - TJN Director.

US tax scandal brings down Wegelin swissinfo
Jan 27 - "Wegelin is the first standalone Swiss bank to sell its operations in Switzerland as a result of US efforts to catch clients who used Swiss banks to evade the taxman ... Banks being probed by US authorities are worried that clients, even in their non-US operations, will pull their money out because of the investigations."

Switzerland, U.S. Aim to Conclude Tax Talks by End of 2012 Bloomberg
Jan 26 - “ 'We’ve said that at the end of 2012 we want to end these negotiations,' Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told reporters today in Davos after a meeting with her U.S. counterpart Timothy Geithner ...'Our aim, and he agreed, is to find a solution where we won’t be confronted with a question about the past every year. '” See TJN comment on the U.S. position here.

US Treasury Aims To Lower FATCA Burdens Tax-News
Jan 27 - "The Treasury and the IRS believe that their efforts “to implement FATCA and to resolve the challenges it poses can and should serve as precursors to a more comprehensive multilateral approach to information exchange. For that reason, we believe that FATCA – if implemented appropriately – can serve as a catalyst for further advances in the global effort to improve transparency and combat tax evasion.”

India joins multilateral forum to curb tax evasion Economic Times
Jan 27 - "'By signing the convention, India and the other 31 signatories encourage more countries to join, sending a strong signal that countries are acting together to ensure that individuals and multinational enterprises pay the right amount of tax, at the right time and in the right place,' the finance ministry said." See TJN comment on India and the multilateral convention here.

Greece: The adventures of of Nikos Kassimatis Global Post

Jan 26 - On "The man who owes $1.23 billion to the Greek government".

Hollande Pledges to Rein In France's Banks Wall Street Journal

Jan 26 - On a statement by François Hollande, the opposition Socialist presidential candidate and opinion-poll leader. "To bring the financial sector back under control, Mr. Hollande also said he would forbid banks from doing business in tax havens and raise taxes on their profits."

Russia Reviews Eurobond Tax Rules as Claims Raise Concerns Bloomberg
Jan 6 - "Coupon payments made to foreign debt holders through offshore special purpose vehicles, known as SPVs, are taxable under the current law, although the rules haven’t often been enforced ... 'All we are saying is there’s a law,' Shatalov [Deputy Finance Minister] said ... 'Maybe it’s not good, maybe it’s bad, maybe somebody doesn’t like it, but it should be obeyed.' Read Treasure Islands for an explanation of Eurobonds and their role in the offshore financial system.

See also:
Russia: the taxman targets eurobonds Financial Times

Jan 26 - "This is seen as part of a government assault on offshore tax havens".

A taxing, troubling situation in Ukraine KyivPost
Jan 26 - Ukraine has one of the most onerous and complex tax systems in the world, yet many of the nation's richest people avoid taxes through offshore havens."

U.S.:The President's Speech: Right about Stopping Offshore Tax Dodgers, Wrong about Cutting Taxes for Other Corporations Citizens for Tax Justice
Jan 26 - "During his State of the Union address, President Obama said that 'no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas.' ... However, his proposed solutions, which the administration fleshed out with a fact sheet on Wednesday, fail to raise revenue, retain and expand the loopholes that allow corporations to avoid taxes, and mark a further retreat from earlier, stronger proposals"

UK: FSA in crackdown on offshore advice role in listed firms FT Adviser

Jan 26 - "The Financial Services Authority has proposed changes to the requirements for companies to be listed in the UK, including a tightening of the rules around listings for companies managed offshore."

Swiss ink tax deal with Ireland The Local

Jan 27 - "With regard to tracking cases of tax evasion, the agreement “contains provisions on the exchange of information in accordance with the international standards applicable at present,” the Swiss finance department said. The standards referred to are those established by the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development)." Read on the flawed OECD standards here.

At Davos, Debating Capitalism’s Future New York Times

Jan 27 - Op-Ed by Ed Miliband, leader of the UK's Labour Party. "Tax authorities need to know about income and wealth hidden behind front companies, trusts and other complex financial products. If these rules cannot be changed by international agreement, progressive governments should go ahead and do it themselves."

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