Today’s Top Stories from GFI: U.S. government shutdown delays automatic tax information sharing

 

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Reaction: government shutdown delays automatic tax information sharing
The Guardian Professional Development Network, October 16, 2013

By Clark Gascoigne

One of the biggest advancements in curtailing illicit financial flows to date is the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (Fatca) signed into law in March 2010. The law required foreign financial institutions to report to the US government information on all of their US clients. Almost immediately, foreign governments demanded the same from the United States, leading to a flurry of intergovernmental agreements between the US and foreign nations — many of them developing countries — establishing a system of automatic exchange of tax information.

In order for the law to work effectively, and in order for developing nations to benefit from it, each of these intergovernmental agreements needs to be negotiated and signed both by US treasury department officials and by their foreign counterparts. Unfortunately, with the US government shutdown for more than two weeks, those treasury department officials are unable to do their jobs.

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Swiss sign pact to share black money info with India, others
The Hindustan Times, October 15, 2013

The famed wall of secrecy around Swiss banks has crumbled, with Switzerland signing an international agreement on fighting tax evasion – a move that will allow India and other countries access to information on concealed illicit money.

Switzerland agreed to exchange information and provide assistance in tax matters after it signed the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters on Tuesday. India is among the 58 signatories of the convention.

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Of tax havens and development: How to put an end to illicit financial flows
Devex (Op-Ed), October 16, 2013

By Eva Donelli

Tax avoidance by companies in the European Union is costing developing countries billions of dollars in lost tax revenues each year. That is the conclusion of a report launched by CONCORD, the European non-governmental organization confederation.

The report finds that in developing countries, between $859 billion and $1.138 trillion of illicit financial flows escaped developing countries in 2010 alone.

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Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance

Ireland closes loopholes that led to tax haven allegations
The Guardian, October 15, 2013

By Henry McDonald

Ireland’s finance minister has pledged to crackdown on “stateless” multinational companies who use addresses in the republic to avoid paying tax in their home countries.

The Irish government has come under repeated fire this year from tax campaigners to tie up loopholes that some claim have turned Ireland into a tax haven for transnational corporations such as Apple and Facebook.

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Levin-McCain Statement on Ireland’s Decision to Reform its Tax Rules
Senator Carl Levin Press Release, October 15, 2013

WASHINGTON – Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, released the following statement on Ireland’s announcement [PDF] that it would reform tax rules that had allowed U.S.-based multinational companies to avoid paying billions of dollars in U.S. income taxes.

Levin and McCain held a May 2013 Subcommittee hearing that examined offshore profit shifting and tax avoidance by Apple using three Irish subsidiaries that claimed they were not tax residents anywhere.

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Swiss to sign last rites for banking secrecy: OECD
AFP, October 15, 2013

Switzerland will break the seal on its banking secrecy, until now considered virtually ironclad, by signing an international agreement on fighting tax evasion today, the OECD said.

This marks “the end of banking secrecy” in Switzerland, the head of tax issues at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Pascal Saint-Amans, told AFP.

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Bribery

Ouch! The Chinese Bribery Scandal Is Hurting Big Pharma
Forbes (blog), October 15, 2013

By Ed Silverman

Ever since the bribery scandal in China erupted four months ago, there has been growing acceptance among multi-national drugmakers that the Chinese government probes into marketing practices were going to hurt business. But how bad is it?

None of the largest drugmakers are offering specifics, but they did provide some predictably dour assessments to one Wall Street analyst. Of nine multinational drugmakers queried, seven acknowledged the bribery scandal has been a drag on operations in China. One large drugmaker, for instance, noted that prescribers are reluctant to grant access to sales reps.

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Swatting flies? Beijing’s fight to root out corruption
CNN, October 15, 2013

By Kristie Lu Stout

In China, a sex scandal is often more than just a sex scandal — because it often involves public money.

So jilted mistresses have stepped forward as graft-busters in China’s crackdown on corruption.

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Uhuru to set up website for reporting corruption
Capital News FM, October 16, 2013

By Jemimah Wangui

President Uhuru Kenyatta says he will set up a website where the public can report cases of corruption within the government.

The Head of State on Wednesday said that the platform will enable members of public to report government officials who engage in graft so that appropriate action is taken against them.

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Corruption in Myanmar: take down the real villains
The Nation, October 16, 2013

By Naing Ko Ko

When I started to write about anti-corruption issues in Myanmar on the East Asia Forum, a number of scholars suggested that corruption in Myanmar is principally linked with low wages at governmental institutions. But the logic that the low salaries of public officials increases the amount of corruption does not work accurately in Myanmar. What about corruption among the state’s leadership? There are many factors which underpin corruption in Myanmar, such as the lack of a robust political system, weak governmental institutions, opportunity for corruption, monopolistic leadership mechanisms and a moral and value system based on corruption.

Whenever there is a power struggle among the elite generals who have ruled since 1962 in Myanmar, they accuse each other of corruption. After that, they boot each other out by using corruption as a reason. The members of the Myanmar Investment Commission were fired in 1999 and the ex-prime minister Khin Nyunt and his military intelligence officers were dumped in 2004. The fact is that Senior General Than Shwe is alleged to be the most corrupt general since the country gained independence. He created a legacy of corruption and decades of his authoritarian rule invented the military cronyism that is based on a commercial relationship between the generals and their cronies. Than Shwe and his ministers awarded special privileges to certain crony companies, which in return provided illegal money to the generals.

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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.