Friday, March 20, 2009

International News - March 20

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

House passes bill to capture most of AIG bonuses
Baltimore Sun (March 20) – The US House of Representatives passed a bill that imposes a 90 percent tax on those who were paid bonuses at AIG and other firms as long as their families earned more than $250,000 annually and their companies received more than $5 billion in federal bailout funds. It passed by 328 to 93.

The draft bill is here. And, separately, take a look at this letter from the New York Attorney General to the chairman of AIG. Now there is a man who knows how to get things done!

Switzerland will escape the blacklists / La Suisse échappera aux listes noires
March 20 (Le Temps) - Switzerland, along with Luxembourg, Austria, Belgium will not appear on any tax haven blacklist, according to Czech PM Mirek Topolanek, who currently holds the EU presidence.

Support for Levin Stop Tax Haven Abuse Bill Grows
March 17 (GFIP) – Approximately two dozen organizations are part of a growing coalition of advocacy groups that have endorsed a bill introduced by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) that would combat offshore secrecy jurisdictions called the “Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act.”

EU risks turning a blind eye to the world’s poor
EURODAD March 18, 2009 - Tomorrow in Brussels, European Union leaders are expected to agree on the European position for the upcoming G20 London summit on measures to combat the effects of the financial crisis and reform the international financial architecture. European NGOs fear that EU Heads of State and Government may turn a blind to the world’s poor.

Perfidious Albion - Perfide Albion
March 17 (Le Monde) – big Le Monde story about the “perfidious” City of London.
web translation:

The seven secret Barclays tax documents we have been barred from publishing – and what an expert told the court they mean
March 20 (Guardian) - The Guardian's tax expert comments on the documents.

Darling Announces Tax Code Of Conduct For UK Banks
Tax News (March 19) - UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling has announced that banks will be encouraged by the government to sign up to a new voluntary code stipulating minimum standards of tax compliance.

Roger the Dodger - £40m king of tax
March 19 (Guardian) - He and his wife can count the likes of Cindy Crawford and Mick Jagger as friends. Yet few people outside the exclusive world in which he lives have ever heard of Roger Allan Jenkins, a man whose nicknames - Roger the Dodger, The King of the Double Dip - say more about him than he ever would.

Swiss MP makes Nazi jibe
March 19 (Reuters) - A war of words between Switzerland and Germany over banking secrecy escalated when a Swiss member of parliament compared German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck to the Nazis.

Luxembourg shows it is committed to abuse
March 19th (Tax Research) - "If that (OECD) is the worldwide standard and if all the countries agree to that, then I think it would be strange if the EU member states that are part of the G20 say something different," Luxembourg Treasury and Budget Minister Luc Frieden said. Richard Murphy: “Luxembourg wants to offer one or two of the useless Tax Information Exchange Agreements and scrap the EU STD. Let me remind them of that word sanctions.”

New whistleblower claims over £1bn Barclays tax deals
March 19 (Guardian) - Further detailed allegations about tax avoidance schemes set up by Barclays Bank emerged tonight from whistleblowers who said the bank made close to £1bn profit a year from a series of elaborate deals.

U.S. Extends Its Inquiry of Offshore Tax Fraud
March 18 (NY Times) - Federal authorities have widened their criminal investigation into UBS concerning offshore tax fraud to include independent lawyers and accountants from Switzerland and the United States who worked with the bank. An internal UBS memo from August 2004 described a memo: “we invite you to make a short presentation on the structures/vehicles that you recommend to U.S. and Canadian clients who do not appear to declare income/capital gains to their respective tax authorities.”

13 Firms Receiving TARP Funds Owe $220m in Back Taxes
March 19 (Taxprof) - Of the 23 top recipients of TARP funds, 13 owe a combined $220 million in unpaid federal taxes. Treasury did not ask these banks and companies to turn over their tax records but relied on the signed statements when it agreed to invest billions of taxpayer dollars.

Geneva Banks Face ‘Creative Destruction’ in Losing Secrecy
March 20 (Bloomberg) -- Geneva’s private banks, money managers for the world’s rich since the French Revolution, may see their numbers shrink after Switzerland agreed to loosen bank secrecy for foreign clients. The Swiss Private Bankers Association has said the government needs to cut taxes to restore their “competitiveness.”


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