Friday, October 17, 2008

International News - Oct 17

** Also see here for a permanent list of past story summaries; and Offshore Watch for more stories. **

Highlight: TJN in the news - The Threat Lying Offshore
Oct 10 (TJN) - Today TJN's director, John Christensen and senior adviser Richard Murphy have co-authored an article on the comment pages of The Guardian newspaper, entitled: The threat lying offshore.

The threat lying offshore
Oct 10 (Guardian) - Tax havens will sabotage attempts to re-regulate global finance. Democracy demands we tackle them.

Capital flows: another threat from the secrecy world
Oct 10 (TJN) - As noted in our previous blog, we have just published an article on the comment pages of The Guardian newspaper, noting the threat that tax havens, or secrecy jurisdictions as we often like to call them, pose to the world.

KPMG Tax Shelter Case Heads to Trial, on a Smaller Scale
Oct 14 (NY Times) - Jury selection began on Tuesday in a closely watched tax shelter case once billed as the largest ever, but government prosecutors face a difficult road after a string of defeats in a proceeding that has been scaled back.

I.R.S. to Tighten Tax Oversight of Foreign Banks
Oct 15 (TJN) - The Internal Revenue Service is tightening up its oversight of foreign banks that sell offshore services to wealthy American clients, a move intended to stem what officials have called rampant tax evasion.

Tax Havens, Economic Aggression and the Race to the Bottom
Oct 17 (TJN) – TJN’s Bruno Gurtner - a paper on tax competition.

Executive Excess: how taxpayers subsidise executive pay
Oct 15 (TJN) - Average U.S. taxpayers subsidize excessive executive compensation — by more than $20 billion per year — via a variety of tax and accounting loopholes. A new report.

Ireland's tax rates: guest blogger
Oct 15 (TJN) - Ireland decides to keep its abusively low tax rates intact.

Britain’s toxic fiddling
Oct 15 (TJN) - The British government undermines efforts to achieve global governance in favour of the poor.

French Prime Minister attacks tax havens
Oct 15 (TJN) - French Prime Minister François Fillon that he wants tax havens or "black holes" as he calls them, to "disappear" as a first step towards reforming the international financial architecture.

The anomaly of nationalised banks
Oct 14 (TJN) - UK opposition spokesman points out that banks receiving investment from the government to close their operations in offshore tax havens. "It seems totally inappropriate for banks funded by the taxpayer to be systematically avoiding British tax or helping customers to do so.”

TJN in the news - again
Oct 7 (TJN) - There has been quite a flurry of tax justice commentary, and mentions of our network, in the newspapers and on TV recently.

Dirty money goes Dutch
Oct 7 (TJN) - We have been alerted to an interesting article in de Volkskrant, the major left-of-the-centre newspaper in the Netherlands. It is in Dutch, but you can find a (slightly comical but more or less comprehensible) automatic translation of it here; the original article in Dutch is here.

Tax is where the environment was 10 years ago
Oct 8 (TJN) - The headline to this blog is a direct quote from Jeffrey Owens, quoted in an FT story in November 2004. It is a long and detailed story, quoting TJN on several occasions, dating from November 2004.

Switching to the barbarians
Oct 8 (TJN) - Just added to our quotations page: a comment from the 5th Century. Rather interesting in light of current market turmoil, what has preceded it, and what might come after (which we worried about in our last blog).

On extending public ownership
Oct 8 (TJN) - A few weeks ago you would not have seen sentences in the Financial Times even hinting at public ownership. How times change.

Gazprom and bean-counters without a conscience
Oct 9 (TJN) - Edward Lucas has an interesting piece in the FT about Russia's geo-political ambitions.

A Facebook for multilateral economic diplomacy
Oct 9 (TJN) - World Bank president Robert Zoellick has said that the current financial turmoil is a "wake-up call" highlighting the need for a new multilateralism to replace structures built on 20th Century models which have not kept pace with the changes wrought by globalised markets.

The Steers
Oct 13 (TJN) - TJN is in the news, again. This time we're in The Observer newspaper. In the web version, it's under a section called "The Steers" - although in the print version it's under a section called "The Seers" - which I guess we prefer.

Darling posts crisis team to Iceland
Oct 9 (Guardian) - The chancellor, Alistair Darling, is to send a team to Iceland to work on the stricken economy's financial issues, the Icelandic prime minister said today.

Financial Crisis: Hank Paulson warns of more bank failures
Oct 9 (Telegraph) - More banks will fail in the weeks ahead despite dramatic moves by policymakers across the world to tackle the financial crisis, the US Treasury Secretary admitted last night.

Bailout will deal hit to public spending
Oct 9 (This is Money) - The banking bailout will lead to long-term tax rises, spending cuts and almost certainly break Gordon Brown's much-cherished rules on borrowing, experts warned today.

Comment: The financial crisis: where next?
9 Oct (EU Observer) - Where do we go from here? Are markets in for a period of calm, or will the roller coaster ride continue unabated despite the bailouts and interest rate cuts. Nobody knows the answer, but most agree that even if markets regain a degree of composure, it's only a matter of time before further storms break out.

Venezuela shuts nation's McDonald's in tax fight
Oct 9 (Reuters) - Venezuela's tax body has shut all branches of McDonald's in the South American nation for 48 hours as punishment for alleged tax irregularities, the government said on Thursday.

Russia seeks tycoon's extradition from Britain
Oct 6 (AP) — Russia has asked Britain to extradite a former oil tycoon who fled after what he said was severe harassment by the government, an investigative official said Monday.

Hank Paulson’s October Revolution
Oct 11 (Submerging Markets) - Why This Republican X-Banker Has Decided to (Partially) Socialize Our Entire Banking System

Who pays for Brown's bail-out?
Oct 11 (Guardian) - Unless the richest bear the burden, we can't afford the public spending needed to stave off global depression

Steer clear of those Channel Island 'havens'
Oct 11 (Guardian) - British savers with deposits in the Channel Islands have no protection for their money if their bank goes bust.

Offshore bondholders left in the lurch by liquidation
Oct 12 (Times) - Wealthier investors who have stashed their cash in offshore bonds could lose their nest eggs after the schemes became embroiled in the Icelandic banking crisis.

Financial crisis is 'man-made catastrophe', says World Bank chief
Oct 13 (Telegraph) - Financial crisis is 'man-made catastrophe', says World Bank chief Robert Zoellick, and warned that the costs of the crisis could be lifelong for the poor.

Banks get £40bn as bosses give up bonuses
Oct 13 (This is Money) - Three leading British banks were effectively nationalised today as Gordon Brown signalled an end to the City's bonus culture.

Ex-KPMG partners in New York tax evasion trial
Oct 13 (Reuters) - Former KPMG accounting firm employees tried to cheat the U.S. government out of more than $1 billion by creating improper tax shelters for hundreds of wealthy clients, prosecutors will argue at trial this month.

Tax dodgers could cover much of budget gap
Oct 12 (San Francisco Chronicle) - Getting people to pay the taxes they owe could be one significant way of coping with dizzying increases in the federal deficit and the potential $700 billion price tag for the financial rescue plan, tax experts said last week.

Bribery concerns sour mood at Norway's two largest firms
15 Oct (Aftenposten) - StatoilHydro took over Norsk Hydro's oil and gas division in a so-called "friendly" deal last year, but now relations between Norway's two largest companies seem nearly hostile. A case of suspected bribery nearly a decade ago has pitted the two local giants against each other.

West helped create black money
15 Oct (Express Buzz) - Amid all the clamour of corruption and ill-gotten wealth and the need to cleanse it in our country, what often goes missing is the statistics of illicit wealth stashed away in tax havens strewn across the world.

Europe stuns with €1.5 trillion bank rescue, as France plays role of saviour
Oct 14 (Telegraph) - Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Holland and Austria have joined forces to launch the greatest bank bail-out in history, offering over €1.5 trillion in guarantees and fresh capital in a "shock and awe" blitz to halt the credit panic.

Offshore under scrutiny but secrecy to survive
Oct 15 (Reuters) - The financial crisis will heap even more pressure on tax havens to stop helping clients hide their money from the tax man, but offshore centers look set to retain favor for privacy and other attractions.

Tobin's nice little earner
Oct 15 (Guardian) - A levy on currency transactions could raise billions and act to calm markets in turmoil

Ireland delivers gloomy budget
Oct 14 (Times) - Brian Lenihan, Ireland's Finance Minister, outlined one of the gloomiest economic forecasts for more than 20 years

U.K. Banks Should Shut Tax Haven Units, Cable Says (Update1)
Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) - The U.K. Treasury should tell banks receiving investment from the government to close their operations in offshore tax havens, said Vince Cable, a Liberal Democrat lawmaker who speaks on finance.


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