Thursday, August 25, 2011

Links Aug 25

Swiss-British bank tax deal ruffles feathers swissinfo
Aug 25 - A deal to end a tax evasion row between Switzerland and Britain has been hailed as a victory for Swiss banks but a blow for the global crusade against banking secrecy. Note the comments by John Christensen, TJN Director. See also recent TJN blog posts such as here, and numerous posts by Richard Murphy on Tax Research UK.

Shell company fraud: is the UK Serious Fraud Office doing its job? Treasure Islands
Aug 24 - Nick Shaxson writes, on a story we also linked recently - "Reuters has run another excellent article about shell companies and tax havens, as part of its groundbreaking Shell Games series. It’s an interesting and unusual, if rather involved, tale about how investors got fleeced in a very weird deal ..." Also, on the story seeming to fit into "a UK pattern of turning a blind eye to murky business, in the hope of attracting as much of it as possible (often via tax havens as conduits)." Interesting to consider Nick's comments alongside those of Richard Murphy here

Poor Tax Education is a Bane to Good Governance in Africa Ghana News Agency
Aug 23 - Prince Rasaq ‘Kunle Quadri, President of West African Union of Tax Institutes (WAUTI), said " 'if the citizenry was conscious of and became interested in developmental agenda of government then they would be more inclined to contribute their quota through taxes.' "

Kenya losing Sh100 billion annually on tax exemptions The Standard
Aug 23 - "Kenya is losing over Sh100 billion [approx US$100 billion] annually from a number of tax exemptions, most of which are 'unnecessary', while others fuel corruption." Speaking at a forum organised by the East Africa Tax and Governance Network, "Economic Secretary Geoffery Mwau said on Tuesday the Treasury would abolish tax exemptions deemed unnecessary and those being abused by unscrupulous traders."

America is GE’s tax haven Reuters
Aug 23 - David Cay Johnston writes on the tax dodging shenanigans of General Electric, and notes "Last year GE spent $39.3 million lobbying Congress, roughly $73,000 for every senator and representative. That’s four times what it spent back when its American tax rates, and its share of profits taken in America, were both much higher."

Pirates of the Tax Havens YouTube
Aug 22 - Funny but very much to-the-point activism in Newcastle in the UK - helping the person in the street to understand the dastardly deeds of the corporate tax dodgers and their government cronies.

Australia: Myer tax hunt focus on Gray Melbourne Age
Aug 24 - "Companies in the tax havens of Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands have been hit with a tax bill of more than $738 million as the Australian Tax Office sharpens its focus on the private equity firm behind the 2009 float of the retailer Myer" - a story of dealings via a corporate chain that also included the Netherlands. The Australian Tax Office is scrutinising the roles of directors in offshore holding companies that private equity firms use when drawing funds out of Australia.

The Lap of Luxembourgery Foreign Policy
Sep-Oct 2011 issue - "In the dark heart of Europe lies a nation rotten to the core. Renowned as a secret banking haven where North Korean leader Kim Jong Il allegedly squirreled away billions of dollars, its economy is tied to the whims of capricious global money markets. The country's per capita external debt is 84 times that of the debt-ridden United States (some $3.76 million for each man, woman, and child). Democracy is a joke ..."

Foreigners deposit less money in Swiss banks The Local
Aug 23 - "Deposits in Swiss banks by foreign private clients have dropped by 73 billion francs ($92.5) over the course of the last year, according to recent statistics from the Swiss National Bank (SNB) ... An explanation for the dip can likely be found in the relaxation of banking secrecy, as well as Switzerland’s moves to distance itself from money laundering and untaxed funds." But where is the money going - could some be moving to other country offices of Swiss banks?


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