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MORE ON THE TOUGH TIMES FACING SWISS PRIVATE BANKS
Private banking, an industry firmly embedded in Switzerland’s history, culture and economy, has hit hard times. The rich, once content to park money in a numbered account and visit their banker once a year on their way to the ski slopes, are now more demanding. No longer happy with preserving fortunes, they are insisting on guaranteed returns, and they want their money closer to home. Bank Julius Baer head-to-be calls markets the worst since the Depression. High costs have already prompted moves towards Swiss bank consolidation - over the past 12 years, the number of Swiss banks had fallen 38 per cent to 369.Stories here and here.
SWITZERLAND: HAVEN FOR TAX REFUGEES
ZURICH: If they have enough wealth, a foreign “tax refugee” can work a deal and residency in very private Switzerland. Switzerland reserves a special status for these rich foreigners in granting them a fiscal package. The offer is exclusive to them and not open to Swiss citizens. They negotiate an arrangement with the Swiss tax authorities allowing them to be taxed on their life style rather than on their real fortune. Total numbers estimated to be around 2500.Full story here.
LIECHTENSTEIN TRIES TO REVIVE FINANCIAL CENTER AS APPEAL WANES
VADUZ: Financial industry accounts for a third of the economy. No new bank has opened in the country of 33,000 for two years after the number of institutions more than tripled to 17 in the previous six years. Liechtenstein’s main selling points are losing their appeal as its policies come under international pressure. The decline began in June 2000, when the Group of Seven industrial powers placed the country on a blacklist of countries doing too little to fight money laundering.More on this story here.
MALTA'S TRICKY ROAD TO EU MEMBERSHIP
VALLETTA: Many Maltese fear joining the EU. Malta remains the only candidate country yet to satisfy EU requirements on taxation. Voters are likely to vote in a referendum early next year on whether to join in 2004. Recent opinion polls are running 51 percent in favor, versus 49 percent against joining.More on this story here.
ISLE OF MAN’S INSURANCE OVERSIGHT IN THE WORLD SPOTLIGHT
DOUGLAS: Life insurance policies used for money laundering, say investigators. Using drug proceeds from the United States and Mexico, suspects opened 250-odd different investment-grade life insurance accounts in the Isle of Man. The insurance policies were sometimes taken out in the names of nieces, nephews and other relatives of the traffickers. The traffickers would typically cash out all or part of the Isle of Man policies prematurely after a year or so, paying penalties of 25 percent or more to get access to the legitimate-appearing cash more quickly. Are terrorists using similar schemes?More on this story here, here, and here.
Manx banks step up “know your customer” enforcement.More on this story here.
GIBRALTAR FUTURE CLOUDY
Speculation over UK-Spanish deal, EU pressures goes on. But the number of financial service providers expected to leave as a result of EC pressure is fairly small, and any changes to the tax regime which take place in the next few years will almost certainly create jobs in the sector.More on this story here.
CARIBBEAN NATIONS OPEN BOOKS
In the past year, four more Caribbean nations have made their banking systems more transparent to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in return for favorable tax status for U.S. company meetings. Caribbean-area countries that have signed TIEAs with the IRS include Barbados, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, Venezuela, Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, The Cayman Islands, and The British Virgin Islands.More on this story here.
BERMUDA IN THE NEWS
HAMILTON: US-based attacks heat up. Auditors may lose the right to advise companies on moves offshore to jurisdications such as Bermuda. Two California public pension funds, with $232 billion in assets, are telling two Bermuda companies to move back to America or they will not buy their stock. SEC regulators have proposed forbidding accounting firms from providing their audit customers with certain tax services, such as setting up tax shelters, as part of its effort to improve auditor independence. S&P will resist the pressure to delist 10 firms from index that reportedly moved offshore.More on this story here.
Two Bermuda banks had to terminate their US dollar cheque facilities. Both banks offered US dollar current accounts with cheques cleared by US counterparts such as Deutche Bank. Each sent out letters to clients recently explaining that the US Patriot Act, which was designed to track down funds of terrorist organisations, has led to bank regulations in the United States tightening significantly. In the the heightened “know your client” climate, US domiciled banks are no longer willing to clear US Dollar cheques drawn on third parties.Rest of details here.
8,000+ expatriate workers reach record levels. 6% year/year increase.More on this story here.
IS CANADA REALLY ABOVE THE U.S.A.?
Country’s principal superior quality is that they are a lot luckier than anyone else -- lots of natural wealth and space, no enemies, no superpower or colonial responsibilities. But a fair number of Canadians do feel morally superior to Americans. If that nettles some Americans, it might help them to understand how the rest of the world feels about Americans’ overwhelming presumption of superiority to everyone and everything.More on this story here.
Canada’s richest are getting poorer. The combined net worth of Canada’s super-wealthy this year is $111.1 billion - down 7.6% from last year’s total of $120.3 billion. Some of the longest-standing and best-known captains of Canadian industry have been withdrawn from the list.More on this story here.
E.U. SAVINGS TAX ON LAST LEGS
BRUSSELS: On Wednesday, European finance ministers will make a last-ditch attempt to agree on new rules on the taxation of savings. Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg may block compromise.More on this story here.
Swiss finance minister and his EU counterparts keep quiet about last ditch talks.More on this story here.
NEW U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY
WASHINGTON: Long-predicted resignation of plain-speaking Paul O’Neill finally took place, followed by that of Lawrence Lindsey, the President’s chief economic adviser. Conservative commentators regretted the departure of two men who had the right ideas, even if they could not implement them. CFP spokesman says: “We believe that [O’Neill] had a hard time controlling his Department’s career staff. For the last two years, many free market activists have been fighting the entrenched bureaucrats at Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service, rather than spending our limited resources on helping the President move his pro-growth economic agenda forward.”
John Snow came as a surprise selection for an investment community that had expected someone with clearer ties to Wall Street than O’Neill. Some more struck by the similarities between the two men than their differences. Snow helped build CSX into the biggest rail operator in the Eastern United States.More on this story here and here.
CENTER FOR FREEDOM AND PROSPERITY TESTIFIES AGAINST I.R.S. PROPOSAL
The proposed regulation (REG-133254-02) would require U.S. banks to report to the IRS the amount of bank deposit interest paid to foreign depositors, even though the IRS admits that this information is not needed to enforce U.S. tax law and is being requested solely for the benefit of foreign governments. “This proposed regulation will drive capital out of America and hurt U.S. financial markets. This ‘new’ regulation is based on the same misguided policies the Clinton Administration tried to sneak through during its last few days. Unfortunately, the IRS apparently puts the interests of foreign tax collectors above the interests of the American people.” IRS pushing forward despite almost zero favorable comments on proposal. “This proposal is an abuse of the regulatory process,” says Texas Rep.More on this story here, here, and here.
BRITISH ELITE SLIPPING
LONDON: How Britain’s “establishment” has changed. Britain’s educational system, more socially-segregated than that of any other rich country, has tended to foster a tight network at the top. Now public school (British code for smart private secondary schools) and “Oxbridge” no longer dominate the top jobs.Full analysis here.
Duchess of Kent quietly sells off Gainsborough paintings. High-quality photographic replicas were replaced in the original mounts and frames and taken to her apartment.More on this story here.
SOUTH CAROLINA DOING WELL WITH CAPTIVE INSURANCE
Captive insurance is a type of self-insurance in which a corporation or association establishes a carrier to handle risks such as liability or workers’ compensation or to offer employee or health benefits. In three years, the industry’s investment in S.C. has reached as much as $50 million, following law passed in 2000 that encouraged captives to set up in or relocate to state. With rates rising and coverage decreasing for standard insurance, interest in alternatives is mounting.More on this story here.
GOING OFFSHORE? GET AN INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT
U.S. residents can obtain a permit for around $20 at any branch office for the Automobile Association of America. Other sites charge more for obtaining a permit than AAA and are not endorsed by the U.S. State Department.More here.
ANTI-OFFSHORE COMPANY MOVES FAIL
S&P rejects states’ request to remove offshore companies from index.More on this story here and here.
MAJOR REASON TO MOVE ASSETS OFFSHORE
Annual direct cost of US tort system is over $180 billion -- 1.8% of GNP -- or 2.5 times greater than other industrial nations. Estimate does not include loss of products or services that never come to market, or excessive “defensive” medical care. In many cases there is little or no relation between compensatory damages and punitive damages, and there is little rationale or predictability for punitive damages. Someone that is only fractionally at fault can be required to pay 100 percent of the compensation if they have the “deep pockets”. Reform critics say there is no crisis and the system works. But the data suggest an increase in claims and frivolous lawsuits. Roughly 70 percent of medical malpractice claims result in no payments, but the median cost of defending such a case is $66,000. From 1930 to 1994, tort costs grew four times faster than did the U.S. economy.More on this story here.
Official analysis of tort liability claims here (PDF file).Legal Methods of Asset Protection, a free condensed book on the subject of how to protect your assets from predatory lawsuits and the lawsuit lottery by Vernon Jacobs available here.
BERMUDA SLAMS UNFAIR TARGETING
HAMILTON: Finance Minister said Bermuda companies had been “unfairly targeted” in a “short-sighted, nonsensical” campaign. He added: “The singling out of Bermuda-based companies in this manner disregards the real issue and that is that these companies have not done anything illegal and are engaging in legitimate businesses.”More on this story here and here.
ANTIGUA TARGETS TAX EVASION
Opposition leader attacks the government’s crackdown on corporate tax evasion as a “political witch hunt”, accusing the ruling Labour Party of targeting only Opposition-aligned businesses.More on this story here.
SINGAPORE VIEW: THE E.U.-SWISS TAX BATTLE
“Tax evasion in EU proving a dodgy issue.” Nationalism, politics, and good old-fashioned financial rivalries hinder ambitions to create a capital market to rival the United States.More on this story here.
MANY IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE QUESTION WHETHER JOINING THE EU IS WORTH IT
Pre-1989 Western Europe lived in the imaginations of those trapped behind the Iron Curtain as big and colourful, full of sufficiency and comfort, with free expression and freedom to travel. The colourful image has turned into an abstract, grey and bureaucratic colossus full of faceless white collars. After barely a decade of freedom, could it be swapping one tyranny for another?More on this story here.
SWISS BANK SECRECY AND TAX EVASION
The failure to report or the underestimation of income or assets on a tax return are not considered a crime in Switzerland. But “tax fraud” (falsified documents) is considered a crime. Banks do not have the right to inform the Swiss tax authorities, never mind foreign tax authorities!More on this story here.
EU “YES” TO HUNGARY
BUDAPEST: EU upholds government tax breaks for foreign investors.More on this story here.
ALDERNEY: THE FORGOTTEN CHANNEL ISLANDFinancial Services Commission home page here.
MALTA USED AS TAX DODGE BASE
VALETTA: Maltese companies used as front for italian tax evaders.More on this story here.
AUSTRALIAN INCOME TAX DRIVES EXPATS AWAY
SYDNEY: Why pay 47% income tax when Hong Kong is just 15%? Skilled people emigrate because of Australia’s high rates of tax for middle-income earners.More on this story here.
MAURITIUS SURRENDERS PRIVACY TO INDIA DEMANDS
NEW DELHI: New framework of co-operation between Mauritius and India will include the sharing of information on Mauritius-registered foreign institutional investors and overseas corporate bodies, and also the investigation rights for questionable security market transactions on Indian bourses. Any request for information from India should be supported by prima facie evidence, says Mauritius minister. He disputes that Mauritius was a tax haven, as the country relies largely on indirect taxes for income, while the corporate tax rate in almost all the sectors was just 15 per cent.More on this story here.
Health Insurance: watch the fine print.Advice here. (Free registration required.)
WHO ARE THOSE “RICH” AMERICANS, SO OFTEN DERIDED BY LEFTISTS?
How about ordinary Americans? Of approximately 100 million households, 3.5 million have net worth of $1 million or more. Interestingly, most millionaires buy used cars, and spend only a little more, on average, than the $21,000 average spent by all Americans on all cars.More on this story here.
BUILDING WEALTH WITH TAX SAVINGS
How Americans can use tax savings to fund retirement. New rules allow the deferring of current income by putting it in qualified pension plans.More on this here.
PITCH FOR UNIVERSAL SAVINGS ACCOUNTS
Similar to IRAs, but with higher limits on contributions and fewer restrictions on withdrawls. USAs would emerge as a popular and economically powerful financial tool that would foster upward mobility and promote savings for families who do not save enough now.Full position piece here.
ANDERSON ARK FOUNDER HELD WITHOUT BOND
MIAMI: Keith Anderson to stand trial. Group allegedly engineered $100 million in fake tax deductions, through foreign shell corporations.More on this story here.
WATCH WHAT YOU POST
In a closely watched libel case, Australian’s high court says Dow Jones can be sued there for alleged libel on its US web site, complicating the murky question of which laws and whose courts have jurisdiction over the Internet.More on this story here.
FINCEN ISSUES REPORT ON “INFORMAL VALUE TRANSFER SYSTEMS”
“Hawala” and other IVTS outlined. While serving legitimate needs they are subject to being used as conduits for terrorist financing and other illegal activity.Press release here (PDF file).
GOVERNMENT’S NEW TOOLS FOR DOMESTIC SPYING
Police are looking to do away with rules that block them from spying on people and groups without evidence that a crime has been committed. Tiny diving company stands up to government request for client records, and gets some criticism for their stand. Much of this revolution in police work is taking place in secret. Some say that civil liberities must be sacrificed in the current world. A joint Congressional inquiry into intelligence failures before 9/11 concluded that the failures had less to do with the inability of authorities to gather information than with their inability to analyze, understand, share and act on it. “The idea that data mining of some vast collection of databases of consumer activity is going to deliver usable alerts of terrorist activities is sheer credulity on a massive scale”, said spokesman for Junkbusters Corporation, a privacy advocacy business.More on this story here.
Fears mount over Pentagon total spy system. Federal antiterrorist investigators say they severely lack the human resources -- agents, officers and citizen volunteers -- to make a dent in the terrorist-support infrastructure in the United States, thus the need for such a comprehensive information system like TIA.More on this story here.
TERROR THROUGH THE LENS? POTENTIAL FOR ABUSE OF NEW POLICE POWERS MADE MANIFEST.
An amateur photographer was arrested on Tuesday in his home city of Denver - for simply taking pictures of buildings in an area where Vice President Cheney was residing. After snapping about 30 pictures of the hotel and the surrounding area - which included Denver police, Army rangers, and rooftop snipers, he was arrested, and later interogated by a Secret Service agent. Photographer was told that his “suspicious activities” made him a threat to national security, and that he would be charged as a terrorist under the USA-PATRIOT act. Eventually released without explanation, and without his camera. Police deny ever having held him.More on this story here.
WIRETAPPING BACK DOORS
According to anonymous sources within the Dutch intelligence community, all tapping equipment of the Dutch intelligence services and half the tapping equipment of the national police force, is insecure and is leaking information to Israel. In the absence of full control over both the hardware and the software involved it is impossible to make a final conclusion, one way or the other.More on this story here.
About two-thirds of Canadians believe it is unsafe or very unsafe to go on-line to give governments key information such as annual income and credit-card numbers, suggests poll.More on this story here.
GOOGLE HAS MADE SUPERSLEUTHS OF US ALL
By a winning combination of smart algorithms, hyperactive Web crawlers and 10,000 computer servers, Google has become a high-tech version of the Oracle of Delphi. It is now the 4th most popular Web site on the whole Internet. In the singles world “Google dating” -- running prospective beaus through the search engine -- is now standard practice. Have a funny feeling you’re being Googled? Get used to it.More on this story here.
UK ID ... ER ... “ENTITLEMENT” CARD “NO THREAT TO CIVIL LIBERTIES”
“Entitled to what?” One may well ask. Theoretically, entitled to all the stuff one is already entitled to by virtue of paying taxes/being citizens/being legal residents. The more interesting question is, what do we give up to get this non-new entitlement?Rest of article here.
NIGERIAN EMAIL SCAM COUNTRY’S SECOND BIGGEST BUSINESS?
Security software company Message Labs says: “Recently, Americans in particular seem to be falling victim to the scam. A recent report by the U.K.’s National Criminal Intelligence Service stated that up to five Americans per day have been witnessed waiting in London hotel lobbies to meet people connected with the scam. If this trend continues, Nigerian scam operations [could] gross over $2 billion in 2003, becoming the second largest industry in the country.” Company also bestows its latest on computer viruses and spam.Rest of article here. An example of a new twist on the scam is here.
A “CONSERVATIVE” STAND ON CIVIL LIBERTIES ISSUES
American Conservative Union’ and ACLU’s stands are pretty much the same, notwithstanding their partisan and narrow ideological differences. Two retiring Republican House members, Bob Barr and Dick Armey, are considering working actively with the ACLU on civil liberties projects. Barr was nearly unique among former prosecutors serving in Congress in looking skeptically at requests for more power from law enforcement officials and agencies. When a new Congress convenes, who will stand in their place?More on this story here.
E.U. SAVINGS TAX PLANS FAIL AS SWITZERLAND REFUSES TO BUDGE
BRUSSELS: Plan to impose cross border tax and exchange tax information fails. Luxembourg representative told reporters that the Swiss voluntary information exchange and withholding tax offer is “neither equivalent, nor equal” to the European Union’s original plan for the taxation of non-resident savings interest. “Switzerland hasn’t offered enough and we want to put more pressure on Switzerland”, Austrian representative told journalists. “Switzerland must be prepared to exchange information.”Stories here, here, and here.
Switzerland has refused to budge on its offer of a 35% withholding tax on interest earnings (without disclosing identities) to the EU, after European finance ministers failed to agree on a new tax deal. Stronger demands that it support the automatic exchange of information between states - an effective dismantling of the country’s banking secrecy - will undoubtedly be forthcoming. Proponents of the EU tax deal believe any crackdown on tax evasion cannot be successful without the support of Switzerland.More on this story here and here.
NBER STUDY: TAX COMPETITION GOOD
European countries have claimed that relatively low-tax countries, such as the U.S., Switzerland and many smaller countries, are engaged in “unfair tax competition”. The argument that tax competition is bad stems from the belief government spending is superior to private spending, and that tax competition will undermine the ability of governments to raise taxes and enlarge the welfare state. An National Bureau for Economic Research (NBER) report, “Why Europe should love tax competition -- and the U.S. even more so”, looks at the question and concludes the weight of the evidence is on the pro-competition side. Reducing government intake reduces destructive spending more than it reduces productive spending. The underlying economic rationale for such information sharing, to prevent tax competition, is not even in the interests of its proponents, let alone the U.S. national interest.Article here.
TEN LEADERS OF ANDERSON’S ARK INDICTED FOR OFFSHORE TAX SCHEMES
SEATTLE: Anderson’s Ark & Associates was last year was subject to the most widespread criminal raids ever conducted by the Internal Revenue Service. Some 300 investigators staged coordinated raids across the country to seize computers and documents. Recently-extradited founder Keith Anderson claims that the US government is persecuting him “for showing Christians that the tax laws are a hoax”.
Prosecutors estimated the alleged scheme run by Anderson’s Ark assisted about 2,000 people in illegally evading income taxes, filing false income tax returns and concealing taxable income. Naples, Florida accountant accused of filing bogus returns for seven partnerships and six individuals, and requesting bogus tax refunds of more than $600,000. “These false income tax returns reported large business deductions and net operating losses that were based on fictitious and non-existent transactions,” the indictment states. Also among indictment claims is that the defendants bilked clients by pocketing some fees that were supposed to be invested in offshore vehicles.More on this story here, here, and here.
WHY PANAMA REMAINS A PREFERRED TAX HAVEN
Interesting discussion highlights some differences between Panama and other offshore financial centers. European countries and the US could take some lessons from the country vis a vis bank client and legal structure oversight.Full discussion here.
MS. TONY BLAIR’S BERMUDA FREEBIE
HAMILTON: Labour government curtails UK overseas territories’ freedom, but PM Blair’s wife, Cherie, gets free hospitality. Blair family the previous recipient of many freebie and deep-discount deals from governments. It has also emerged that Ms. Blair used a convicted fraudster to help her in a $790,000 property deal.More on this story here.
INLAND REVENUE APOLOGIZES
UK tax collector did sale-leaseback deal involving 600 properties to Bermuda-based company for £220m ($347m), contrary to IR loud anti-tax haven policies, and even acted as a de facto investment banker in the deal. Errors could cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds. IR chairman says that it issued misleading information and also failed to inform parliament properly.More on this story here and here.
BARBADOS OFFSHORE SECTOR COULD REBOUND, BUT IT WILL NOT BE EASY
BRIDGETOWN: US official points out that while Barbados was “lucky” to lobby and get its name off the Homeland Security Bill as a tax haven, “every single state in the US” considered Barbados a tax haven. While Barbados had been dropped from the OECD’s “tax haven” list, the organization is going through the “back door” to achieve the same objective simply by having its members change their laws. Success still possible with innovative ideas and improved infrastructure.More on this story here.
FLORIDA HOSPITAL GOES TO CAYMANS FOR CAPTIVE INSURANCE
Claim is the hospital will save $2 million/year in malpractice insurance. Hospital officials are also claiming that the new captive insurer company is exempt from Florida’s open-meetings and public-records law, raising the “specter of shady dealings”.Full editorial here.
PORTUGUESE ISLAND MADEIRA GETS TAX-FREE ZONE
After lengthy negotiations between the EU Commission, the Portuguese government and the autonomous zone of Madeira, the Commission has approved a new aid scheme for companies setting up in the industrial free zone and the international services center of the free zone of Madeira over the period 2003-2006. It is hoped that this will contribute to the economic diversification of the region. Finance-related industries exluded from scheme.More on this story here.
A lucrative racket enables bogus applicants to assume identities of deceased Goans to apply for Portuguese citizenship. Under Portugal’s nationality law of 1975, those born in Goa, Daman and Diu before 1961 (when Goa was liberated) and their descendants up to a third generation are still entitled to Portuguese citizenship.More on this story here.
MYSTERY RUSSIAN BILLBOARDS HIT OFFSHORE ASSETS
MOSCOW: “Bring Your Money Back to Russia!” and “No More Offshore!” say billboards. Federal officials insist they are not behind the campaign. Billboard owner claims no information on ultimate source. No shortage of theories.More on this story here.
U.S. FIRMS MOVE I.T. JOBS OFFSHORE
Forrester Research report says that around 30,000 IT jobs have gone overseas so far, and predicts that the number will grow to almost half a million in the next five years. “We think customers are going to put a lot of pricing pressure on the consulting and integration market. We are going to aggressively move everything we can offshore,” says Hewlett-Packard spokeswoman. India and China primary destinations. Telecommunication and software services advances enable the taking advantage of lower costs.More on this story here and here.
I.R.S. CONFIRMS TOUGH RULES FOR TAX CHEATS
Prosecution unlikely if cheats come clean first.More on this story here. (Somewhat intrusive registration required.)
ESCAPE US DOUBLE TAXATION OF CORPORATIONS
Ditching corporations in favor of Limited Partnerships (LPs) or Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) avoids taxation on company income followed by taxes on distributions to investors (dividends). Mike Bloomberg accumulated a $4.8 billion fortune from his eponymous company, Bloomberg L.P. Setup and administration costs hinder routine adoption of this approach by small investors.More on this story here.
IRS TAX RULING UPSETS OFFSHORE INSURANCE, HEDGE FUNDS
Recent private ruling says that only dedicated hedge funds set up by insurers would allow the products sold to investors to keep their insured character, rather than being treated as mutual funds, whose income and capital gains are taxed annually in the US, whether distributed or not. Currently many hedge funds purport to offer investors tax-free funds by “wrapping” the fund units as insurance products such as variable life and annuity contracts. Issues likely to be considered include degree of investor control over investments, how much real insurance risk is being incurred.More on this story here. Text of IRS private letter ruling on hedge fund life insurance here.
HIGHLY PREDICTABLE: GERMAN ASSETS FLEE NEW TAXES
BERLIN: A significant outflow of assets from Germany has followed the announcement that capital gains taxes on the sale of securities and real estate are being extended, as had been predicted by the country’s banks and financial service providers. Outflow so far pegged at 30-40 billion Euros.More on this story here.
AUSTRALIA TO KEEP TAX PRESSURE ON THE BIG BUSINESS, WEALTHY
Australian Taxation Office (ATO) said today it would continue to focus its energies on big business and wealthy people to ensure they paid their share of tax. One in 10 businesses will be audited in 2002-03, while more than 135,000 people will be asked about their tax deductions.More on this story here.
FATF WARNS BANKS CHARGING UNNEEDED “CLEARANCE FEE”
“People wishing to make international transfers of funds are allegedly asked by the FATF to pay fees for fictitious services relating to verification of the origin of the funds,” warns FATF on its web site. More ominously, the funds of customers who fail to pay the fees are blocked, raising the possibility that bank insiders are involved in the scam. “In fact, the FATF does not provide any such services nor does it request fees or have the capacity to block any account.”More on this story here.
J.P. MORGAN STUDY: U.S. POPULAR WITH RICH EUROPEAN INVESTORS
41% of 150 investors, who have at least $10 million to invest, say the United States was the best place for their money. Europe was a close second with 38%. Deflation was the biggest investment risk, predicted by 89% of the survey respondents.More on this story here.
Study commissioned by Goldman Sachs shows that high net worth women investors are as involved in decision making about their investments, and spend as much time focusing on investing, as do men, contrary to alleged stereotypes.Summary of study results here.
THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD: PRITZKER DYNASTY BREAKING UP
Blueprint laid out by late scion in 1995 torn up and replaced by secret plan. Left-out cousin contesting plan -- both emblematic of and accelerating the dissolution of the family dynasty. Empire encompasses $15 billion in assets, including Hyatt hotel chain.More on this story here.
G-8 NATIONS PLAN BIOMETRIC PASSPORTS
All passports must have biometric features. But can it be done? Tests repeatedly show that biometrics technologies cannot as yet be applied within the framework of large-scale projects. German report warns against piling up uncontrollable mountains of data, points to the possibility of ethnic screening, and highlights the threat of camouflaged investigations being introduced. New EU visas are already calibrated to conform to biometrics.More on this story here.
IDENTITY THEFT ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO AVOID, BUT TAKE PRECAUTIONS
No matter how careful you are, you may not be able to avoid having your identity assumed by someone who wants to go on a buying spree, using your credit card, bank account, Social Security number or other personal data. The biggest threat today comes from insiders, employees with access to large financial databases, more than from a thief stealing a wallet or pilfering your mail. “There’s an awful lot of bribery of insiders going on”, says FTC dentity-fraud program manager. Checking one’s credit ratings every three month’s would allow early detection of fraud. Consumers can also “opt out” of programs that allow financial institutions to share data, as well as those that allow credit card issuers to grant preapproved offers of credit.More on this story here.
CANADA: US “RAT-ON-YOUR-CLIENT RULES” WORRY LAWYERS
Canadian lawyers advising Canadian corporations could soon be required to blow the whistle on their own clients if they suspect a material violation of U.S. securities law -- putting them in breach of Canada’s rules on solicitor-client privilege, leading practitioners warn.More on this story here.
ACLU MEMBERSHIP SURGES IN POST 9/11 WORLD
Since last year’s attacks, the ACLU’s membership has increased 20%, to about 330,000 nationwide. Membership fees fund $3.5 million campaign that includes TV ads criticizing the Bush administration. New members from both the liberal and conservative political communities.More on this story here.
Just what is Poindexter up to at the Pentagon? Get it straight from the horse’s mouth here. Diagram of TIA schema here.
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