Today’s Top Stories from GFI: Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act Introduced in the US

Jay Owen Reforming Global Finance, SRI/ESG News

From the Task Force Blog:

GFI in the News

Momentum Builds in U.S., Beyond to End Corporate Tax Evasion
IPS, April 16, 2013

By Carey L. Biron

The U.S. government’s main watchdog on Monday reported that U.S. corporations are paying taxes on less than half of their declared income, largely due to dozens of tax breaks that have come under increased scrutiny in recent months.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is reporting that U.S. companies received tax breaks worth around 181 billion dollars in 2011, slightly more than what they paid in taxes. That figure would make up the largest such sum since a major rewrite of the U.S. tax code took place in the mid-1980s.

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Congressman Introduces Bill to Stop Corporate Tax Haven Abuse
Accounting Today, April 15, 2013

By Michael Cohn

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, introduced three pieces of legislation on tax deadline day to end a number of offshore tax breaks for corporations and encourage greater financial transparency.

The Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act aims to close several different loopholes by deterring the use of tax havens for tax evasion and strengthening the enforcement of our tax laws. The bill would also require SEC-registered corporations to report annually on the number of employees, sales, financing, tax obligations and tax payments on a country-by-country basis, shedding more light on the extent of use of tax havens. The bill also would provide additional penalties for failing to disclose offshore holdings and for promoting abusive tax shelters.

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Automatic Exchange of Tax Information

Norway Signed Information Exchange Agreements with the U.S.
The Nordic Page, April 14, 2013

The Ministry of Finance has agreed with the U.S. government on an agreement on automatic exchange of financial information between tax authorities. The agreement involves an extension of the exchange of tax information that is already occurring between countries today. Agreement is based on reciprocity, and the Norwegian tax authorities will automatically receive information about Norwegian taxpayers account issues in U.S. banks and other financial institutions.

The agreement helps to fight and prevent tax evasion, and is a step towards automatic exchange of tax information globally. The agreement will also have positive effects for Norwegian taxpayers’ compliance with Norwegian tax rules, tax authorities and facilitate the exercise of control, says Johnsen.

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Osborne tipped to sign tax deal with Caymans
Contractor UK, April 16, 2013

Britons suspected of hiding money offshore by using banks in the Caribbean will have their details disclosed to Revenue & Customs under new measures reportedly being drawn up by the Treasury.

Signalling a fresh clampdown on tax evasion, chancellor George Osborne said he was pushing for more transparency from the UK overseas territories of the Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands, The Sunday Times reported.

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Illicit Financial Flows

Two Nations Indivisible: A Roadmap for Modern Mexico
Forbes (blog), April 16, 2013

By Nathaniel Parish Flannery

In many respects, Mexico is moving forward, boosted by nearly two decades of post-NAFTA economic transformation. However, the country still suffers from serious problems related to corruption, a weak legal system, and an ongoing (though declining) wave of organized crime and violence. So far in 2013 Mexico has attracted billions of dollars of new investment from foreign companies, but it has also witnessed the emergence of vigilante groups in several parts of the country where the federal government has been unable to effectively combat organized crime.

Shannon O’Neil’s new book Two Nations Indivisible: Mexico, the United States, and the Road Ahead, insightfully analyzes and explains the different and at times paradoxical aspects of modern Mexico. Throughout the book, O’Neil livens the narrative with well-told anecdotes drawn from her own experiences in Mexico City and other parts of the country. She distills more than two decades of research into straightforward prose and also shares the stories of the friends and acquaintances she met through the years.

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Tax Evasion

German state buys tax data in secret account crackdown
Reuters, April 16, 2013

By Madeline Chambers

The German state of Rhineland-Palatinate said on Tuesday it had bought a CD containing data on secret bank accounts which could yield half a billion euros in tax revenues, triggering police raids across the country.

It was unclear who sold the information but in the past, unidentified whistleblowers have provided similar data to German states, including North Rhine-Westphalia.

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Money Laundering

Nordea Bank Fined for Inadequate Checks to Stop Money Laundering
Bloomberg News, April 16, 2013

By Niklas Magnusson

Nordea Bank AB (NDA), the Nordic region’s largest lender, was fined 30 million kronor ($4.7 million) by Sweden’s financial watchdog for failing to comply with requirements designed to prevent money laundering.

Nordea, based in Stockholm, received a remark and an administrative fine for being “deficient in its internal governance and control with regard to the European Union sanctions regulations,” the Financial Supervisory Authority said today in a statement on its website.

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Karim Wade arrested in Senegal corruption probe
BBC News, April 15, 2013

Police in Senegal have arrested the son of former President Abdoulaye Wade on suspicion of corruption.

Karim Wade denies accusations that he illegally amassed about $1.4bn (£900m) during his father’s rule.

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Slower China Growth Signals Days of Miracles Are Waning
The Wall Street Journal, April 15, 2013

By James T. Areddy and Tom Orlik

Shanghai property developer Sun Ping recalled offering a bloc of villas for sale in 2006, a time when buyers queued overnight and traded spots in line for money. He sold 62 houses in three hours and figures those homeowners quickly saw their investments triple in value.

“That was a miraculous time,” Mr. Sun said. A recent open house he hosted drew only a handful of shoppers.

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U.S. Charges BSGR Agent in Guinea License Bribery Probe
Bloomberg News, April 16, 2013

By Sophia Pearson & Jesse Riseborough

A French citizen with ties to BSG Resources Ltd. was charged with witness tampering and attempting to obstruct a probe into whether a mining company paid bribes to win “lucrative” rights in Guinea, according to court documents.

Frederic Cilins, 50, was arrested and charged with plotting to destroy documents and induce a witness to give false testimony to a grand jury investigating potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to a criminal complaint filed yesterday in federal court in New York.

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