Tuesday, June 03, 2008

International News - June 3

** Also see TJN's permanent list of past story summaries; Offshore Watch for more stories. **

A step towards better transparency in the U.S.
June 3 (TJN) - We bring to your attention (a little belatedly) a new bill introduced by U.S. Congressman Barney Frank, called the "Extractive Industries Transparency Disclosure Act." It is a fine piece of legislation.

Europe wants to regulate hedge funds and private equity
June 2 (TJN) - The European Parliament recently published a draft report on hedge funds and private equity. We blogged on some of the core principles not so long ago, arguing that "the whole process is subsidised by our tax systems – and this is one of the keys to their profits. The European Parliament seems to agree with us.

Five Canadian banks skirting their responsibilities
Report (French) here: http://www.uqam.ca/nouvelles/2008/08-210.htm
June 2 (TJN) - Canada's five largest banks have avoided $16 billion in tax over the last 15 years, according to new research from the University of Quebec at Montreal.

Capital Flight from poor countries: new report
May 28 (TJN) - A new report has just been published on capital flight out of poor countries, compiled and published by the non-governmental groups Eurodad, WEED, CRBM and the Bretton Woods Project.

Any fat goose fretting over tax can boo this lot off course
June 3 (Guardian) – UK Labour's tax take is lower than every single year under Margaret Thatcher. Every single year. Within a few months policies on inheritance tax, the non-dom rules and the tax allowance threshold have all been changed by a frightened leadership that can be booed off-course by any fat goose that doesn't like paying tax.

What I told the Pope about how to shape the new capitalism
June 1 (Observer) – By Will Hutton - Unilever committed itself to make the best 'everyday things for everyday folk', Boeing to build the planes that flew fastest, safest, furthest, Sony to permanent innovation and so on. If capitalism organises itself along the lines of a private equity firm, interested only in financial leverage, avoiding tax and vast personal gain while putting two fingers up to concepts of the common good, it has lost the plot. There will be a backlash, not good for business in the long term.

Liquidators of Bear Stearns funds lose court appeal
May 28 (Reuters) - Representatives of two collapsed Bear Stearns Cos Inc (BSC.N) hedge funds linked to risky mortgage investments have lost a court appeal seeking to have the funds liquidated in the Cayman Islands instead of in the United States.

Tesco: new claims of tax avoidance
May 31 (Guardian) - Tesco, the retail and property giant, is facing new allegations of seeking to avoid corporation tax on millions of pounds of profits through an offshore scheme. See Richard Murphy’s detailed analysis here :

BCSC orders cease-trade in Liechtenstein bank
May 27 (Report on Business) - A British Columbia Securities Commission panel has slapped a permanent cease-trade order on a Liechtenstein bank that traded millions of dollars worth of securities through accounts at 11 B.C. investment dealers, saying the banking secrecy laws of a foreign country cannot serve as a shield against regulation.

Bilfinger Employees Face Probe Into Bribes to Nigeria (Update1)
May 26 (Bloomberg) -- German prosecutors are investigating whether employees of Bilfinger Berger AG's Nigerian unit were directly involved in bribe payments to the African nation's government. Julius Berger, 49 percent-owned by Bilfinger.

Siemens defendant's evidence "started avalanche"
May 28 (Reuters) - The defendant in the first criminal trial over suspected bribery at German engineering group Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) sparked investigations that now encompass about 100 suspects, a Munich court heard.

Special Report: China In Africa
A big set of well-written stories on China’s role in Africa, with case studies on Zambia, DR Congo, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea. Much mention of natural resources and secrecy.

50,000 banned from leaving Taiwan over tax evasion
May 30 (China Post) - As of late February, 52,716 people were banned from leaving the country for failing to pay taxes, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Finance yesterday.

Tax-free UAE on course to introduce VAT in Gulf
May 29 (Business Inquirer) - The United Arab Emirates is on course to shed its reputation as a tax haven and become the first oil-rich Gulf Arab state to introduce value added tax, marking a step towards diversifying public revenues.

IRS Scrutinizes Rabobank's Dealings With Newell
May 29 (WSJ) - The Internal Revenue Service is investigating allegations by a former Rabobank Group executive that the Dutch bank engaged in a $450 million transaction with Newell Rubbermaid Inc. to help the Atlanta consumer-goods company avoid paying taxes.

Citizens for Tax Justice.
May 30 (CTJ) - Including The tax "extenders" bill which includes extensions of tax cuts for business and energy; Pushing for Tax Cuts in Pennsylvania; Tax Reform in Rhode Island; Combined Reporting on the Horizon in Tennessee?; Selective Fiscal Responsibility in South Carolina.

Tax haven flows increase by 230 per cent
May 29 (Money management) - Australian transfers to and from tax havens increased by 230 per cent to $5.8 billion in the five years between 2001-02 and 2005-06, according to data contained in an Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report published this week.

Oil exec charged with massive $1bn tax evasion
Accountancy Age (May 30) - Russia’s interior ministry is understood to have accused a senior oil executive who used to work for Tyumen Oil Company (TNK), before it joint ventured with BP to create TNK-BP in 2003, of evading close to a massive $1bn (₤506bn) in taxes.

Former UBS banker poised to plead guilty
May 30 (FT) - A former UBS private banker charged with helping a US billionaire evade income taxes is expected to enter a guilty plea in federal court next month, according to court documents. Also see: UBS tells unit staff to avoid US visits

Truth or Consequences
May 28 (NY Times) – By Thomas Friedman - Imagine for a minute that someone running for president was able to actually tell the truth, the real truth, about what would be really the best energy policy for the long-term economic health and security of our country. Our mythical candidate would say the long-term answer is to go exactly the other way: guarantee people a high price of gasoline — forever.

Big Chains Benefit From City Tax Incentives but Don’t Create Jobs, a Report Says
May 29 (NY Times) – In 1976, when New York was fighting to stem an exodus of high-paying jobs to the suburbs and beyond, the city created a program of property tax breaks aimed at retaining industrial companies and other employers. But as the city’s economy has evolved, those incentives have been put to some very different uses.

White list’ excludes UK-linked tax havens
May 27 (FT) - A new international “white list” of financial centres with top quality anti-money laundering controls has sparked a row by excluding key British-linked tax havens.

Tax havens fear becoming the fall guys
May 27 (FT) - The Turks and Caicos Islands: British MPs have discovered the picturesque British Caribbean tax haven, raising the alarm about increasingly baroque political feuding there during which widespread corruption has been alleged and the attorney-general’s offices set on fire. See also: Ties with UK tend to be complex (on the UK overseas territories and crown dependencies)

May 27 (Tax Research) - While we keep our current corporation tax and company law we have a tax system that is biased against small business and UK based companies and so clearly favours large business and the multinational enterprise. Join with us to create some innovative and ground breaking research: the likelihood of excellent publicity is high. Anyone want to give me a call?

Kerry, Emanuel on Bush Opposition to Reform of Offshore Tax Loophole for Hedge Funds
May 21 (All american Patriots)– Today, Senator John Kerry and Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D – Ill.) criticized the White House for opposing reform that would close a tax loophole that allows hedge fund managers and CEOs to defer compensation offshore.

Offshore Bank Account Holders, Here’s Some Advice
May 21 (WSJ blogs) - For years you’ve been using offshore bank accounts to illegally shield income. Now you read reports about investigations into bank accounts in places like Liechtenstein and Switzerland, your sleep becomes tortured, and you begin to wonder: Will the tax man come for me? “Nothing is secret anymore. No individual should take any comfort in relying on any country’s so-called bank-secrecy laws.” With interesting comments underneath.

Why a tax cut just isn’t fair on teenagers
May 31 (FT) - These tax gimmicks matter much less than we might think. It is current government spending, not current government taxation, that is the real measure of a government’s size.

UK Treasury delays changes on foreign-profit tax
June 2 (Times) - The UK Treasury is delaying proposed changes to the taxation of foreign profits after an outcry from British multinationals, The Times has learnt.

More Headaches for McCain’s Camp
June 9 (newsweek) - Senator Phil Gramm, McCain's longtime friend and one of his five campaign co-chairs is vice chairman of a U.S. division of UBS, currently the focus of congressional and Justice Department investigations into schemes that allegedly enabled wealthy Americans to evade income taxes by stashing their money in overseas havens.

Isle of Man lures U.S. operators with promised tax incentives
June 1 (Ainonline) - The new Isle of Man aircraft registry could be a possible safe haven for N-registered business aircraft based in Europe.

Symantec tax stand-off reflects regulatory friction
May 20 (MarketWatch) -- When Symantec Corp. bought Veritas Software Corp. in 2005 to broaden its appeal to large business customers, it likely didn't realize it was also inheriting a tax dispute that could cost it nearly twice the profit earned in its last fiscal year.

Twice As Many Rich Escape U.S. Tax
May 27 (Forbes) - The number of Americans earning $200,000 or more who paid no federal income tax more than doubled in 2005, just-released Internal Revenue Service numbers show. But changes by Congress, not illicit tax shelters, explain the big jump, according to an IRS analysis.

Murdoch's mother wins tax case
May 28 (SMH) - Dame Elisabeth Murdoch has been spared from paying tax on a multi-million dollar payment after a successful Federal Court appeal against the tax office.


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