Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Links - Feb 25

** Also see our searchable archive of past story summaries; and Offshore Watch. **

UBS has £37bn from UK clients
Feb 25 (Guardian) - The wealth-management arm of UBS, under fire in the United States for its part in a multibillion-dollar tax evasion scandal, has more than 20,000 clients in the UK who have entrusted £37bn to the battered Swiss bank. Asked whether UBS faces investigation for tax abuse in the UK, a spokeswoman said she was unaware of any inquiry.

We will put people first, not bankers
Feb 22 (Observer) By Gordon Brown - More evidence that Britain's promise to crack down on offshore finance is a ruse. This should not be at the cost of Britain hosting big international banks. There is no room for parochialism or protectionism in our model of the future. Global financial flows and liquid capital markets have brought massive benefits to our economy since the dawn of global trade centuries ago. We are not evacuating, but rather entrenching, our place right at the heart of global commerce, finance and trade.

Too Big Not to Fail?
Feb 23 (The Nation) - By TJN’s Jim Henry. A romp through the unfolding crisis, with much new data and analysis. By February 2008, by my reckoning, banks and insurance companies have already absorbed at least $817 billion of government capital injections, $251 billion of toxic asset purchases, $2.6 trillion of government loans and $5.9 trillion of government debt guarantees. If we added the guarantees for once quasi-private entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the loan guarantees double to $10.9 trillion. To call this "capitalism" is to have Ayn Rand and Friedrich von Hayek turning somersaults in the crypt. Time and again, this pathological form of pro-bank development has jeopardized the prosperity, stability and innovation of the small businesses, inventors and would-be savers who are the backbone of market economies. Bank-dominated political economies don't really deserve to be called "capitalism," since big bankers have never really been entrepreneurs who are content to stick to the capitalist rules of the game.

Feb 25 (Tax Research) - This isn’t new. But it’s worth airing again. It’s a paper I co-wrote submitted to the US Senate in 2007 on the tax haven activities of Jersey, point by point rebutting their claims to be well administered and to not be a tax haven. It concludes:

Lawsuit filed against UBS Chairman, Swiss regulators
Feb 25 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Monday gave UBS until April 30 to file its response to a case launched by the U.S. IRS. Wegelin said the U.S. and British governments, which have been vocal on Switzerland, were keeping quiet about "financial swamps" in their own backyards, which it said include the Channel Islands, the Caribbean and Delaware.

Swiss Ideas on how to save bank secrecy / Les idées pour sauver le secret bancaire
Feb 25 (Le Temps) – Swiss parties debate how to save bank secrecy. Three ideas predominate. First, to abolish the distinction between tax fraud and tax evasion for foreign, though not for Swiss, capital. Second, study the possibility of having the EU Savings Tax Directive extended to other countries such as the US.Third, enshrine bank secrecy in the Swiss constitution. In French.

Auf der Suche nach dem Fluchtgeld
Feb 23 (SudDeutsche Zeitung) – A long interview with TJN’s John Christensen (translation)

The Oligarchs' Escape Plan
Feb 17 (Counterpunch) - Prof. Michael Hudson looks at similarities between past IMF bailouts of élites in developing countries, and current US bailout. And much more.

Dubai Gets $10 Billion Bailout to Ease Debt
Feb 23 (WSJ) - `The United Arab Emirates said Sunday it will spend $10 billion to bail out the once-highflying tax haven emirate of Dubai, whose huge construction and financial-sector expansion plans became a symbol of boom times, and now of a world-wide downturn.

Meltdown: Regulators to Tackle Tax Defaulters
Feb 25 (ThisDay Nigeria) - Yesterday’s meeting of the Financial Services Regulation Coordinating Committee (FSRCC) . . . sources revealed that matters relating to taxes were discussed.
 In fact, the meeting was said to have considered removal of directors of banks and companies that had been evading or avoiding taxes.


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