Wealth International, Limited

Offshore News Digest for Week of February 26, 2001


In a surprising development, Democrat Representative Major Robert Owens (D - NY) has written a letter to Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill complaining about US support for the OECD's campaign against offshore jurisdictions. Saying that "the OECD's attack on international tax competition undermines the ability of these nations to develop and/or maintain financial services industries", Major Owens asks Paul O'Neill to "re-examine American support for the OECD's anti-tax competition campaign".

On second thoughts, this Democrat alliance with a right-wing Republican cause publicly espoused by House Majority Leader Dick Armey and Deputy Senate Majority Leader Don Nickles is not so surprising: the 63-year old African-American Major Owens has represented New York's 11th District, an area housing considerable numbers of Caribbean immigrants, since 1982. Similar logic underpinned Senator Hilary Clinton's letter-that-wasn't on the same subject to Secretary O'Neill.

Despite the barrage of Congressional letters to the Treasury Secretary, and Paul O'Neill's appointment of a seasoned tax professional, Pam Olson, as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, the Treasury has issued no clear statement about its intentions towards the OECD.

Last weekend's G7 summit in Palermo was Paul O'Neill's first opportunity to discuss the issue with his international colleagues, and in his somewhat Delphic closing statement after the summit there are words to encourage both sides in the dispute:

"We also urged Russia to move quickly to take action against money laundering, as outlined by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in June 2000. Finally, we reviewed developments in our shared effort to fight financial abuse. We look forward to continued steps by identified jurisdictions to undertake needed reforms and urged the IMF and World Bank to help countries implement relevant anti-money laundering standards. At the same time, we reiterated our commitment to implement coordinated countermeasures in cases in of ongoing non-cooperation, based on recommendations by FATF. We also reaffirmed our support for efforts to address harmful tax practices. While I indicated to my colleagues that certain aspects of these efforts are under review by the new Administration, I support the priority placed on transparency and cooperation to facilitate effective tax information exchange. At the same time, it is critical to clarify that this project is not about dictating to any country what should be the appropriate level of tax rates.'

This rather moderate line is very different from the 'slash-and-burn' rhetoric employed by his gung-ho predecessor, Larry Summers. So there is hope . . . but the fight goes on.

More on this story here.


The Bahamas has been well and truly suffering at the hands of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Only last week, Tax-news.com reported that the FATF had called upon the Bahamas government to correct legislative deficiences it has discovered in the country's securities market, namely the Securities Act, the Mutual Funds Act and the Insurance Act.

This constitutes a real setback for the Bahamas in its campaign to get off the FATF blacklist of money laundering hotspots. But in local newpaper the Bahama Journal this week, Bahamian professor Gilbert Morris spoke out against the FATF, saying that compliance with the FATF now seems to matter very little.

Professor Morris, of George Mason University, remains resolute that the Bahamas should not cave into the demands of the FATF. The Bahama Journal reported that at a recent conference on the response of countries to the FATF initiative, Professor Morris had circulated an article in which he said that since the Bahamas acted without a back-up strategy, it now has no leverage and is subject to the will of the anti-money laundering body.

More on this story here.


With a week to go before the Swiss vote in a referendum on whether to join the European Union, the EU Commission joined the French in efforts to annoy the Swiss into voting "No!"

More on this story here.

This was too much even for the pro-EU Swiss president.

More on this story here.


"As long as Bern refuses legal assistance in the sphere of [foreign] tax evasion because it is not a crime, there is a gray zone which attracts illegal money."

More on this story here.


ZUG, Switzerland. The Clinton-pardoned MARC RICH is a leading employer, local celebrity, respected expatriate and big taxpayer here.

More on this story here.

And one observer tells why Marc Rich is his hero. (It's not Bill (Clinton).

More on this story here.


How obscure US Senate staff members grabbed world headlines charging that every major US bank allows billions in offshore laundered dirty money to flow onshore through correspondent accounts. (All part of the FATF PR campaign).

More on this story here and here.

Later this week Senate hearings will be held on this trumped up report, the work of one leftist US Senator, Carl LEVIN (D-Mich), and his anti-offshore staff. (Who's in charge of the Senate, anyway?) Already 4 offshore banks have been shut down as a result, based on little more than accusations.

More on this story here.


GEORGE TOWN. The islands' economy is hurting, but not the offshore finance sector, government insists.

More on this story here.

And having followed FATF's orders, the Caymans get a pat on the head.

More on this story here.


An Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report has dropped Hong Kong's rating as an international business center from third to 12th place. Direct trade with China now makes HK less important, they claim.

More on this story here.


MAJURO, Marshall Islands. Officials here say "heal thy self" to the US government and OECD, claiming both have a double standard when dealing with tax havens.

More on this story here.


Why small business owners are hurt by US estate taxes.

More on this story here.

A leading African American newspaper founded by the son of freed slaves, is battling an IRS 55% estate tax claim on the paper's value. The family must come up with $4 million to keep the paper.

More on this story here.

The Cato Institute explains why richies such as George SOROS, Warren BUFFETT and Paul NEWMAN love the estate tax; they've got theirs!

More on this story here.

And the wealthiest Americans are paying relatively less taxes.

More on this story here.


A California couple who helped their clients evade at least $13.8 million in US income taxes were sentenced to long prison terms last week, after they told a judge that the tax laws were invalid and did not apply to them.

More on this story here.
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