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COOK ISLANDS CONDEMNS OECD TACTICS, TAKES UP SEAT ON INTERNATIONAL TAXATION TASK FORCE
The Cook Islands will occupy one of two places reserved for the Pacific Islands on an international Task Force to try and work out a new process to tackle global taxation issues.
The Prime Minister Dr Terepai Maoate says the Cook Islands will face tremendous pressure as a result of this role but the Task Force represents important milestones for the country and the international community as a whole.
"I am happy with the outcome," was his message from Barbados yesterday.
The Task Force Working Group is the key outcome of a meeting between the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) and Offshore Financial jurisdictions like the Cook Islands, which concluded in Barbados on Tuesday, January 16.
The outcome of the High Level Consultations on the OECD Harmful Tax Competition Initiative also represents the only middle ground where the OECD and jurisdictions (non-OECD) were prepared to progress further on the debate over an imposed timeline toward blacklisting and sanctions over 'harmful tax practices' by 'tax havens'.
Cook Islands' representation on the 13-member Task Force will bring the country back to the negotiating table with the OECD, this time in London before the end of the month.
The Cook Islands had earlier kicked off another round of stinging attacks on the OECD Harmful Tax Competition Initiative in the morning of the final day of talks, with the Prime Minister delivering a statement that leveled a number of criticisms against the OECD approach.
"The Cook Islands does not sit comfortably with a selective morality, which jeopardises future cooperative consultation and the sovereign right to develop and implement policies," he told the conference before receiving a round of applause from delegates opposed to the OECD Initiative.More on this story here.
MEXICO GAINS AS US GROUPS FLEE DOWNTURN BY GOING SOUTH
As the US economy contin-ues to show signs of a slowdown, a stream of US-based manufacturers, under increasing pressure to cut costs, are migrating to Mexico in an effort to lower labour costs and maximise production capacity.
Last week Motorola, the US electronics manufacturer, announced it would cut 2,500 US jobs and move all its North American cellular phone production to its plant in Mexico's northern Chihuahua
Squeezed by poor sales and cut-throat competition, Motorola is the latest in a series of US-based manufacturers to seek relief south of the border.
last week, Xerox, the US technology group, revealed production of digital office equipment would be moved to its plant in central Mexico, in an attempt to shave Dollars 1bn in costs. The company posted its first quarterly loss in 16 years in October and has since slashed 3,200 jobs.
many US and foreign manufacturers, both companies had already moved part of their production base to Mexico, where labour is cheaper and products can be re-exported to the US virtually tax- and tariff-free.
Since the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) was signed with the US and Canada, Mexico's in-bond assembly for export industry has nearly doubled, to 3,700 plants.
In addition to re-exporting more cheaply to the US, manufacturers can siphon off excess production to any of the 31 countries, including the European Union, with which Mexico has free trade agreements.More on this story here.
FATF TO DISCUSS LATEST REPORT ON MONEY LAUNDERING
The Financial Action Task Force on (FATF) Money Laundering has announced that it will hold a meeting in Paris to discuss its latest report on current money laundering methods and the countries it considers as non-cooperative in the fight against money laundering. The meeting is scheduled to take place between 31 January and 2 February inclusive.
During the talks, Mr. José Mariá Roldán, President of the FATF and Director General of the Bank of Spain, Mr. Lars Oftedal Broch, Supreme Court judge in Norway and Mr. Patrick Moulette, Executive Secretary of the FATF, will hold a news conference. The conference will take place at 4 p.m. on Thursday 1 February 2001 at OECD Headquarters to present the FATF's latest report on international methods of money laundering.
The report is expected to detail current trends and emerging threats from money laundering activities such as on-line banking and internet casinos, and the use of trusts and other non-corporate vehicles to launder money; lawyers, notaries, accountants and other professionals; the role of cash vs. other payment methods in money laundering schemes; and terrorist-related money laundering.More on this story here.
ARTHUR OFF TO TACKLE OFFSHORE ISSUE
Prime Minister Owen Arthur left yesterday evening for London to co-chair the first meeting of a high-powered international task force set up here two weeks ago to help resolve the offshore financial issue.
Arthur spearheaded Caribbean and Commonwealth efforts over two days of intense historic discussions at Sherbourne Conference Centre on January 8 and January 9 to get the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to step back from a controversial initiative on harmful tax competition that would have seen some so-called tax havens, such as Barbados, being blacklisted by July.
Government sources said Arthur would hold preliminary discussions in London ahead of formal talks on Thursday and Friday with representatives of Commonwealth countries, including officials from Australia, which was named as co-chair of the 13-nation task force that also comprises the Pacific Islands Forum and the OECD countries and territories.
At Sherbourne, agreement was reached on the broad principles of transparency, non-discrimination and effective exchange of information, but Arthur reported that some divergences remained and the task force was given a two-fold mandate.
The first, he said, was to take the three principles and find a mutually acceptable political process by which they could be turned into commitments; and secondly, to examine how to continue the dialogue begun here.More on this story here.
ANOTHER O.E.C.D. LOSS TO HAVENS
LONDON. Offshore haven nations meeting here last weekend won another round in their battle against phony OECD attacks on so-called "harmful tax competition." They insisted the OECD back down from threats to impose anti-haven financial sanctions by July 31, 2000. The OECD got no pledges for demands to exchange tax information on offshore investors and bank accounts. When talks ended, haven delegates agreed only to more talks. The OECD-havens task force meets again in Japan, Feb 15-16.More on this story here and here.
For the O.E.C.D. anti-haven propaganda line, here.
MAJURO, Marshall Islands. The government here wants the OECD to know it does not like being blacklisting and will fight.More on this story here.
GRENADA CORRUPTION ELECTION ISSUE
St. GEORGE'S, Grenada. Opposition politicians are using charges of corruption as an election strategy against the government of P.M. Dr. Keith Mitchell.More on this story here.
CAYMANS EX-BANKER RATS AGAIN
PITTSBURGH, Pa. USA. When the FBI arrested ex-Cayman Island's offshore banker John M. Mathewson in 1996 for laundering money it meant some wealthy Americans would be exposed as tax cheats. The latest chapter unfolds at trial here in Pennsylvania.More on this story here.
HAMILTON. In spite of a new, broader tax information exchange treaty with the US and making foreign tax evasion a local crime, Bermuda IBC incorporations are booming.More on this story here.
SWISS DEFEND BANK SECRECY
BERN. Swiss officials meet EU counterparts next month in an attempt to protect banks' right to maintain secrecy about their customers.More on this story here.
E.U. TAX HARMONIZATION DEAD
BRUSSELS. Tomorrow the European Commission will abandon its unrealistic demands for "tax harmonization" among member states. EU's tax commissioner says the EU must scrap plans for uniform tax rules.More on this story here.
U.K. Anti-Money Laundering Rules
LONDON. UK's Financial Services Authority outlines new and broader anti-ML rules calling for more client spying by financial institutions.More on this story here.
U.A.E. ANTI-ML SOFTWARE
The UNITED ARAB EMIRATES have adopted new software to search out "suspicious activities" in UAE banks and businesses.More on this story here.
U.S. FORFEITURE SERIES
The Kansas City Star's award winning investigative series on civil forfeiture in America.More on this story here.
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
Shortly before leaving office Bill Clinton directed that the US sign a treaty creating an international criminal court.Find out more about this dangerous proposal here.
CHANGE IN MANILA
Reports on the change in the Philippine government and what that may mean for foreign investment.More on this story here and here.
U.S. TAX LOOPHOLES EXPLAINED
In an article loaded with thought provoking examples, the N.Y. Times warns that Bush's proposed repeal of gift and estate taxes could mean many more loopholes for avoiding income and capital gains taxes.More on this story here.
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