Today’s Top Stories from GFI: No Species Is Safe From Illicit Wildlife Trade


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GFI in the News

No Species Is Safe From Burgeoning Wildlife Trade
The New York Times, March 12, 2013

By Bettina Wassener

A giant inflatable manta hovered over attendants at an event on the sidelines of a major international convention on wildlife trade in Bangkok last week. Bobbing slightly amid the bustle, it made for a startling change from the polar bears and pandas that have come to epitomize the plight of endangered wildlife in the public eye.

While most attention tends to focus on animals like rhinos and elephants where endangered species are concerned, scientists and conservationists warn that, out of the public eye, many other plant and animal species are being severely depleted, in some cases to the point of near-extinction.

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Money laundering rules to be toughened
Bloomberg News, March 11, 2013

By Jesse Hamilton

The U.S. regulator of national banks is weighing changes to make it easier to eject from the industry bankers who knowingly skirt money-laundering rules.

When bank regulators issued a record fine against HSBC Holdings in December, some lawmakers and consumer groups complained that individual bankers weren’t held accountable by the government for allowing terrorists and drug cartels access to the global financial system.

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Editorial: The poverty question
The Guardian (Nigeria), March 8, 2013

It was not surprising that poverty was the kernel of discourse by former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, at a public function in Abeokuta, Ogun State, recently. Poverty is now a universal concern and in Nigeria, it is one menace that is gnawing at the national soul. President Clinton did not say anything new even as he took the critical path in expressing his thoughts on poverty and that it was responsible for the violence in some parts of the country. While his contentions on the cause of current violence is open to debate, his position is a significant wake-up call to a selfish and docile Nigerian elite on the need to do right by the people.

Once again, Clinton’s position is nothing but plain emphasis of the obvious. One of the ever-present and unifying factors in the country today is the widespread poverty plaguing the majority of the people. Although it harbours the potential of fuelling insurgency as witnessed in the Niger-Delta, those insurgents to their credit, did articulate their grievances in terms of impoverishment of their people and environmental degradation. However, the current insurgency in the northern part of the country has a different set of logic: the insurgents want a Sharia state. This for sure is a tall order in a plural and secular society which Nigeria is.

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Money Laundering

Power Struggle on Reforming Vatican Bank
The New York Times, March 11, 2013

By Rachel Donadio and Andrew Higgins

Negotiations over the Vatican’s adherence to international banking standards were reaching a delicate point. During a lunch, a European official later recalled, discussion turned to the need for more openness from an institution steeped in centuries of secrecy.

A Vatican representative at the meal, annoyed by the requests for more information, shouted, “How can you ask us such questions?”

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Anti-money laundering workshop begins in Cambodia
Global Times, March 11, 2013

About 50 Cambodian officials from the Central Bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), judiciary, police, tax inspection unit, regulatory bodies and the private sector on Monday participated in a five-day workshop on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.

The course, supported by the British government, is presented by Gert Demmink, Ex-FIU Head and Ex-Banking Supervision Head of the Netherlands, and instructors for UK organisation GovRisk (The International Governance and Risk Institute), according to the press release of the British embassy to Cambodia.

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Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance

Awash In Record Profits, Corporations Shift Even More To Offshore Tax Havens
Think Progress, March 11, 2013

By Travis Waldron

Even as American corporations are raking in record profits, the largest among them are shifting larger amounts of money away from the United States and into offshore tax havens that allow them to pad their bottom lines even more, according to multiple analyses of legal filings made since the beginning of 2013.

The Wall Street Journal found that the 60 largest companies moved $166 billion offshore in 2012, shielding 40 percent of their earnings from American taxes and costing the U.S. billions in lost revenue.

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Overseas Tax Savings for U.S. Drugmakers Under Threat
Bloomberg News, March 11, 2013

By Drew Armstrong

The six biggest U.S. drugmakers avoided paying $7.05 billion in U.S. taxes last year by shifting their profits overseas. That’s almost double the amount they saved using the same strategy 10 years earlier, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

For years, multinationals such as Pfizer Inc. (PFE), Merck & Co. (MRK) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) have been moving ownership of patents and trademarks to subsidiaries in low- or no-tax countries. This has allowed drug companies, as well as businesses in several other industries, to skirt paying U.S. taxes on sales of those products unless the money is returned home.

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Paulson Eyes Puerto Rico Tax Haven Move
Financial Times, March 11, 2013

By Dan McCrum

Billionaire John Paulson has explored abandoning his native New York for the tropics of Puerto Rico as he tries to shield his fortune from US tax collectors.

The Queens-born hedge fund manager considered the option, according to people familiar with the situation, after Puerto Rico passed a law designed to encourage the rich to relocate to a Caribbean island that is not traditionally considered a tax haven.

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Corruption

China parliament delegates speak out against corruption, red tape
Reuters, March 11, 2013

By Terril Yue Jones

Amid praise for China’s Communist Party and the government’s work report is an increasingly common complaint from delegates to annual parliamentary meetings – too much red tape and corruption.

The parallel convening of China’s parliament and its main advisory body is usually a tightly scripted series of meetings meant to show unity and how China is tackling its many issues.

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Five Schemes for Creative Corruption
Forbes, March 12, 2013

By Alexandra Wrage

Don’t be too confident that you have a grip on the problem of bribery in your company. If you are a senior executive, a compliance professional, a lawyer or an auditor, you need to think like a criminal to stay ahead of the bad guys.

Strong internal controls deter and detect many strategies, but people who are determined to be corrupt can morph their methods to circumvent sophisticated controls.

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Global Financial Integrity (GFI) promotes national and multilateral policies, safeguards, and agreements aimed at curtailing the cross-border flow of illegal money. In putting forward solutions, facilitating strategic partnerships, and conducting groundbreaking research, GFI is leading the way in efforts to curtail illicit financial flows and enhance global development and security.

For additional information please visit http://www.gfintegrity.org.


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