|W.I.L. Home Page||Offshore News Digest Home|
A RUSSIAN VIEW OF THE WAR IN IRAQ
Testimony to the tactical excellence of the U.S. armed forces in Iraq - and a shrewd assessment of the unexpectedly formidable enemy they are striving to overcome - is emerging from a remarkable source: Russian military intelligence, or GRU. Daily assessments of developments in the war from Russian journalists and military analysts are being posted on the Internet daily at the iraqwar.ru Web site, or analytical center. The reports are described as being based on “Russian military intelligence reports” and contain alleged Russian intelligence intercepts of radio communications between U.S. and other coalition forces in Iraq.
While the factual reports based on these claimed intercepts cannot be independently verified, and may possibly contain deliberate disinformation, the analytical assessments the performance of U.S. forces and the opposition facing them is based on much material also clearly reported by U.S. and other sources and verified by the Pentagon. And it is shrewd and of a high - and thought-provoking - order.More on this story here.
IRAQ: THE WASHINGTON EMPIRE’S AFGHANISTAN?
In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and most experts in the Soviet Union and the West suggested the invasion and occupation would end in a quick Soviet victory. You know the history. The people of Afghanistan resisted bravely and the United States as well as other Arab nations began to support thousands of “Moslem Freedom Fighters” including Bin Laden. Over time the Soviet Forces were defeated and this public defeat, led to questions around the world of the much-vaunted Soviet military and its ability to project Soviet power. This Soviet military defeat eventually led to the total collapse of communism and the Soviet Union.
Unless Bush wins the war quickly, the Washington Empire risks a shattering of the “invincible American military image” which will translate into higher morale and increased resistance by Iraqi forces. Second, the trickle of Moslem extremist fighters into Iraq will turn into a flood of popular support. Third, the limited government support and remaining public support at home and abroad for our invasion will vanish. Forth, the likelihood of Arab states wanting to improve their public opinion at home may well begin to offer military assistance to Iraq. Fifth, other nations like China, Korea, and Iran might take advantage of the growing quagmire of American forces to quickly move to achieve their military objectives that the U.S. will not be able to counter. Finally, the Bush War will have transformed Saddam Hussein, the most unpopular, despotic, hated leader in the Arab world into a hero and the leading Arab statesman in the world.More on this story here.
REPORT COMPARES GIBRALTAR’S FINANCE CENTER UNFAVORABLY WITH BVI’S
In an embittered article published last week, the Gibraltar-based Panorama news service held the British Virgin Islands up as an example for the Rock’s finance center which, it suggested, is lagging behind its peers in a number of areas.More on this story here.
BAHAMAS PROMOTING DOMESTIC INVESTMENT
With fallout from blacklisting and other external shocks looming over the financial-services sector, Bahamas Agricultural Industrial Corp. is looking to domestic investment for economic diversification.
“Our level of domestic investments is really low, across all industries,” said the principal of a local finance firm. “We believe that there is fairly significant amount of Bahamian capital that can be put to work but for some reason, we don't seem to elect to put it to work.”More on this story here.
BUSH TAX PLAN IN DISARRAY
The Senate has delivered a snub to President George Bush by voting to halve his planned tax cut in a surprise vote. Even as American troops are fighting in Iraq it looks as if the president’s domestic agenda may be in trouble.
Many on Capitol Hill doubt the wisdom of passing such large cuts in taxes at a time when the country is engaged in an expensive war and when the government has swung rapidly back into deficit. Gone are the large projected budget surpluses that Mr Bush inherited a little over two years ago.More on this story here.
AUDITORS SEEK CONCESSIONS ON MONITORING
A new US accounting regulator will come under strong pressure to make major concessions on its plans to monitor auditors of listed companies. The big four global accounting firms claim the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s proposed powers and procedures will conflict with laws in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Many foreign accounting firms are supposed to register with the board by October, but they want the deadline put back to October 2004 because of the huge amount of information sought by the regulator.More on this story here.
WORLD TRADE TALKS DEADLOCKED
GENEVA: The battle lines are clear. America wants to see agricultural export subsidies scrapped over a five-year period, to cut domestic subsidies to 5% of the value of farm production and to cap tariffs at no more than 25%. Such sweeping cuts horrify the EU. Europe is ready to cut subsidies, but by nothing like as much as America wants to see. Efforts to bridge the gap have so far failed: compromise proposals have been rejected by America as being too weak and by Europe as going too far.
There is no doubt that the EU is deeply attached to its notoriously expensive Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Several other countries, including Japan, also provide generous support to their farmers and tend to hide behind European intransigence. And America’s attachment to abolishing farm support sits oddly with the farm bill which President George Bush signed last year and which provides for massive new subsidies for farmers.
Some observers are beginning to think the unthinkable: that the schedule will be delayed to such an extent that progress becomes extremely difficult, or that the current round of talks might even collapse.More on this story here.
NEW US-UK TAX TREATY NOW IN EFFECT
The United States and the United Kingdom entered into a new tax treaty Monday that includes a provision that eliminates withholding taxes on dividends U.S. or U.K. subsidiaries pay to their parent companies. That means U.S. withholding taxes will be eliminated on dividends that U.K. subsidiaries located in the United States pay to their parent companies. And, U.K. withholding taxes will be lifted on dividends U.S. subsidiaries located in the United Kingdom pay to their parent companies. The parent companies will still pay taxes on the dividends.More on this story here.
US, BRITAIN SIGN ANTI-TERROR TREATIES
The United States and Britain signed new treaties Monday that officials said would expand law enforcement cooperation and add new powers in the war against terrorism. Attorney General John Ashcroft and British Home Secretary David Blunkett signed an updated version of the extradition treaty between the two countries and a second treaty enabling the two countries to confiscate and share assets of criminal activity.
“This agreements sends a strong signal to criminals that we will not be thwarted by international boundaries,” Blunkett said.
Similar asset forfeiture laws in the United States “have proven effective at crippling illegal operations and dismantling criminal enterprises,” Ashcroft said.More on this story here and here.
INDIAN EXPATS TO LOSE SIGNIFICANT TAX BREAKS
Under the new proposals, non-resident Indians will have to pay tax on their global income if they stay in India for more than 182 days in a calendar year. In order to maintain “not ordinarily resident” NOR status, Indians will be required to reside out of the country for nine out of the previous ten years. This will then entitle them to benefit from NOR status tax-breaks for the subsequent two years. This is a marked shift from the current rules which allow non-residents to enjoy the benefits of NRI status tax-breaks for nine years after living abroad for just two continuous years.
The expat community are understandably unhappy over the proposal and some of the more prominent Indian business people stationed around the globe are attempting to lobby support from members of the Indian government to prevent the ruling.More on this story here.
The Indian commerce ministry has called for tax reductions on overseas banks operating in special economic zones in order to promote investment in these areas.More on this story here.
INVESTORS IN PHILIPPINE PYRAMID SCHEME LOSE OVER $2 BILLION
The Philippine Senate has held hearings on the issue, and now the scandal threatens to expose irregularities within the government itself.More on this story here.
IRANIAN TERROR VICTIM CAN NOT COLLECT AGAINST IRANIAN ASSETS IN USA
WASHINGTON: The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday from a man trying to hold Iran accountable for the killing of his daughter in a Middle East terror bombing. The court did not comment in turning down Stephen Flatow, who won a $247.5 million verdict against Iran, but has been unable to collect most of the money.More on this story here.
UK MAY REVOKE CITIZENSHIP OF TERROR SUSPECT
LONDON: Home Secretary David Blunkett, is expected to exercise tough legal powers which come into effect this week allowing him to revoke the British nationality of residents with dual citizenship if their actions are “seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the United Kingdom”.More on this story here.
BRITAIN LOOKS TO EXPAND POLICE FINGERPRINT, DNA POWERS
LONDON: The British government plans to introduce legislation that would give police new powers to collect fingerprints and DNA data, a move criticized by leading civil liberties organizations. Under current laws, police can only fingerprint suspects once they have been charged with a crime. The new rules would allow fingerprint and DNA data to be collected from anyone arrested.More on this story here.
FEARS ABOUT US DNA TESTING PROPOSAL
A Justice Department proposal to create a database containing the DNA of suspected terrorists has raised fears that the measure would lead to so-called DNA dragnets. The concern is that police could round up people of Middle Eastern origin and other targeted groups to force them to contribute genetic samples to the database. The Terrorist Identification Database Act of 2003 is buried deep within the department’s secretly drafted Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 - known colloquially as Patriot Act II. It would empower the attorney general to collect DNA samples for the purpose of “detecting, investigating, prosecuting, preventing or responding to terrorist activities.”
The proposed database grants law enforcement agencies unprecedented access to private genetic information, allowing investigators to seize DNA samples from people merely suspected of participating in a broad number of activities that qualify as domestic terrorism, a new crime that was ushered in by the original Patriot Act.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other government watchdogs have warned that the law against domestic terrorism could be used to suppress legitimate political protest, especially if that protest results in violence. They charge that if Patriot Act II becomes law, police could theoretically seize DNA samples from those same political activists under the pretext of the war on terrorism. “We are creating a potential monster on which we’ve put no chains,” said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty Program.More on this story here.
US EYES PERSONAL COMMERCIAL DATA IN TERROR SEARCH
Government investigators are turning to commercial databases to track down and isolate possible hijackers and suicide bombers before they strike, raising fear among privacy advocates that long-standing protections against government snooping may be eroded. The Transportation Security Administration is developing an airline passenger-screening program that would check private records such as credit reports to assess risk, prompting a fierce debate about the merits of such “pattern recognition” systems.
The practice of relying on commercial data allows investigators to skirt existing privacy laws and gain access to a realm of personal details they would not see otherwise.More on this story here.
SWITZERLAND BLOCKS MORE ACCOUNTS HELD BY SALINAS
Switzerland’s Federal Court has approved the blocking of ten Swiss bank accounts held by the brother of the former Mexican president, Raul Salinas, and his family. The court rejected an appeal by Salinas who had argued the accounts were not part of a request for legal assistance by the Mexican authorities.More on this story here.
UK AND EU TAKE STEPS TO BAN SPAM
The EU is taking steps to ban spam between member countries, hoping to reduce the flow of junk mail that afflicts corporate e-mails costing untold figures is wasted bandwidth, storage and time spent identifying and deleting the mail which uses techniques designed to defeat automatic filters.More on this story here.
419 SCAMMERS SURFACE IN BAGHDAD
With Gulf War II less than two weeks old, we are impressed to see that Nigerian advanced fee fraudsters - or “419ers” as they are known in the parlance of international scams - have rapidly deployed to offer Western partners a bite of the Iraqi oil billions falafel.More on this story here.
INTEL ENGINEER ARRESTED ON UNDISCLOSED CHARGES AND DETAINED
Maher Mofied ‘Mike’ Hawash has been arrested on undisclosed charges and detained. He has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but owes his loss of liberty - and constitutional rights - because he has been detained as a “material witness” on the grounds of giving to a charity. The charity - Global Relief Fund, which distributes zakat or charity - one of the pillars of Islam - to fund health facilities in the occupied West-Bank territories and Mosques and Muslim schools in the US, the Portland Tribune reported last Fall. It was accused of “links” with Al-Qaeda, which it denied, suing the US state after its accounts were frozen. And the links appear to be inconclusive.
Senior Intel VP Stephen McGeady has rallied to his support: “Americans are taught that the Constitution protects us against arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, and that our freedom and these constitutional liberties are what we are fighting for in Iraq and elsewhere," McGeady wrote to the Oregonian. “Yet one of our neighbors can be taken from his home or office and held without charge for weeks or months. It is shameful that the Oregonian chose to report this as though Hawash were a criminal, rather than as a citizen whose rights are being trampled.”More on this story here.
Free Mike Hawash site here.
SOUTH AFRICA: AN EMERGING STORY?
The foreign exchange amnesty requirement compelling people to disclose how they illegally took their funds offshore appears to have been scrapped by the government, fearing it would put people off brining their money back into the country. Finance Minister Trevor Manuel announced the six month amnesty in his budget in February, and it is expected to bring billions of rands back into the country. Applicants will have to pay a levy of between five and ten percent.More on this story here and here.
Templeton Developing Markets Trust portfolio manager Mark Mobius writes: Emerging markets are no longer perceived in such poor light when compared to developed markets due to fiascos such as Enron and WorldCom. An interesting region in the emerging markets realm is Africa and more specifically, South Africa. South African companies tend to have good corporate governance, capable managers and can compete against the world’s best. Investors can also take comfort from the government’s sound fiscal management and an efficient central bank. We believe that South African companies offer value for money. The South African market is also highly regarded because of its sound regulatory structures, as well as the adherence of the listed companies to accepted codes of corporate governance.More on this story here.
South Africa’s ANC Wrestles Graft in Its Ranks: Glance at the headlines in South Africa’s papers and you could be forgiven for mistaking the ruling African National Congress for a party in crisis. Nine years after it swept to power in the first free elections, a rash of court cases and corruption investigations involving ANC top brass seem a far cry from the heady idealism of 1994.More on this story here.
CIA Fact Book on South Africa here.
IRS ENFORCEMENT PROBLEMS
Five years ago, Charles Rossotti, President Clinton’s nominee to head the IRS, told a Senate committee how he would rein in IRS abuses of taxpayers. That was followed by GOP-sponsored legislation strengthening taxpayers’ rights and modernizing the tax agency to provide better service.
Times have changed. With April 15 fast approaching, President Bush’s nominee, Mark Everson, recently told a Senate committee that he would step up enforcement. The challenge: The IRS is unable to pursue 60% of overdue tax payments, 75% of taxpayers who do not file, and 79% of those illegally hiding money in offshore bank accounts.
The problem is twofold: First, when organizations shift emphasis, they often overcompensate. Second, the IRS has some of the government’s most tangled computer problems.More on this story here.
EXPATS IN EU TO FACE “ASSIMILATION COURSES”
Following the damaging split between the US and several European countries over the war with Iraq, an EU committee has proposed expatriates from outside Europe be given “assimilation courses” to help them understand the European point of view. Under the plan drawn up by the working group on the future of Europe, expats from other countries would undergo a Week of intensive classes before being granted a long-term visa to stay and work here.
The initial part of the course will focus on the EU’s history and its commitment to equality, anti-discrimination and ethical foreign policy. Expats will also be given a brief summary of the political philosophies of leading European statesmen such as France’s Charles de Gaulle and Germany’s post-war leader Konrad Adenauer. For political reasons, Britain’s Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher will not be covered the courses, according to a French MEP behind the plan.
The rest of the course is designed to be more practical in nature: how to address people in the street and on the phone; dealing with children and minorities and how to behave in the workplace and in restaurants.More on this story here.
RUSSIA CALLS FOR FINANCIAL BLACKLIST OF STATES
Just five months after being removed from an international blacklist of non-cooperative countries in the global fight against terrorism and money laundering, Russia has decided to create its own catalog of countries considered to be engaged in inappropriate financial activities. Financial Monitoring Committee spokesperson Natalya Konovalova said she doubted the committee’s blacklist will be much different from the current list created by the Financial Action Task Force.More on this story here.
Russian authorities are tightening the screws on visas for visits longer than three months, and the visa-support agencies that have offered six-month and one-year visas for the past decade are among the first to feel the pinch. In question are commercial visas for those working in Russia, which are issued for three-, six- and 12-month stays. Three- month visas come with single- or double-entry requirements, while six- and 12-month visas allow holders to leave the country and return as many times as they desire. Foreigners traveling with tourist visas will be limited to one-month visits as of April 14.
Alexander Smirny, head of the federal passport and visa department, said the aim is to keep better track of the activities of foreigners on Russian soil - primarily to make sure they are engaged in the business specified on their visa applications. Visa-support agencies and lawyers warned, however, that the rules threaten to create a visa nightmare in which expatriates are forced to leave the country every three months for new visas. If this happens, they said, foreign investment might drop significantly.More on this story here.
NAURU’S NEW PRESIDENT IN HOSPITAL AFTER MILD STROKE
President Derog Gioura has been admitted to hospital after suffering a mild stroke. President Gioura was elected by parliament less than two weeks ago following the funeral of the late President, Bernard Dowiyogo, who died of heart failure in the United States last month. Before falling ill he managed to get parliament to adopt the long delayed 2003 budget and to pass legislation to close down Nauru’s offshore banks.More on this story here.
AMERICA’S LARGEST CORPORATIONS
Forbes’s annual tally of the largest corporations, measured by sales, profits, market value or asset value. Plus, their ‘Super 500’ list, featuring the best of the biggest.More on this story here and here (nonintrusive registration required).
SAVE TAXES WITH AN INSURANCE COMPANY
Ffty years ago Congress, trying to help farmers and others having a hard time getting insurance, exempted insurance companies from taxes if they collected less than $350,000 in premiums. But Congress did not limit how much in assets these insurance companies could own and invest free of taxes. So the companies simply collect a small amount in premiums for a small amount of insurance. But they set aside as reserves far more money than would ever be needed to pay claims, and invest that money tax-free.
“These are perfectly legal under the letter of the law,” said J. J. MacNab, an insurance industry analyst who tracks tax dodges. She said the I.R.S. could deny the tax benefits because these companies are not principally in the business of insurance. “But the I.R.S. is not willing to fight it. Legislation is needed to stop this.”More on this story here.
HEDGE FUNDS UNDER SCRUTINY
Securities regulators on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are scrutinizing the secretive world of hedge funds amid concerns that smaller, unsophisticated investors are jumping into the market. Industry regulators in Britain last week decided not to allow retail investors greater access to these unregulated products. In the United States, the SEC announced last week that it will hold public hearings on hedge funds in May, a move that could signal plans to rein in the fast-growing $600 billion industry. The SEC said the two-day discussions will focus on how these funds are run and sold, and whether additional regulation is warranted.
Unlike mutual funds, hedge funds can invest in the futures and commodities markets and borrow to magnify their gains, as well as sell stocks short to make money in a falling market.More on this story here.
PAYPAL FACES PENALTIES UNDER PATRIOT ACT FOR PROCESSING PAYMENTS TO ONLINE CASINOS
PayPal’s service allows individuals or companies to accept online payments from customers using credit cards or checking accounts. Although PayPal stopped working with online casinos after EBay purchased it last fall, the company derived about 6% of its 2002 revenue from that business.
The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri said that PayPal’s facilitation of illegal gambling payments violated the provision of the USA Patriot Act prohibiting the transmission of funds derived from or intended for use in a crime. Internet gambling is not legal in the United States, and most if not all online casinos are based overseas. The U.S. attorney offered EBay a settlement, to which the company has not yet responded.More on this story here.
BOOK REVIEW: FREDERIC BASTIAT’S THE LAW
Not every good idea is a new one. Many good ideas are old ideas that have simply been forgotten - or are intentionally overlooked. One wonderful source of good and important ideas is a very old but prescient book by Frederic Bastiat. In his slim volume which is succinctly entitled The Law, we find an impassioned, sustained, and persuasive reminder of the purpose of law and the legitimate use of government. It may have been written back in the early 19th century, but its truths speak to us today in the 21st century.
We would all - elected officials included - benefit from this man’s ideas. Bastiat believed that the greatest single threat to liberty is government. And he calls all to recognize that might does not make right. That is to say, simply legalizing a particular undertaking does not change that undertaking’s morally problematic nature. An legalized taking from another may still be wrong, whatever ink on paper may say.
He decries the government’s penchant for “plunder”: “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”More on this story here.
MINING DATA TO FIGHT TERROR STIRS PRIVACY FEARS
NEW YORK: They met just a few miles from the scene of the worst terrorist act in US history. But what really worried the technologists and civil libertarians at this year’s Conference on Computers, Freedom & Privacy were the antiterrorism policies of the Bush administration. The conference, cosponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Association for Computing Machinery, has debated everything from digital music to Internet pornography over the past dozen years. But yesterday there was only one question up for discussion: In its efforts to fend off the next Sept. 11, has the federal government gone too far?
Most speakers said the government wants to use technology in ways that take away too much privacy, and provide little additional safety.
Some at the conference say the concept of data mining as a law enforcement tool should be abandoned. “I think there are serious scientific questions to be raised about whether it’s even feasible,” said Patrick Ball, deputy director of the Science and Human Rights Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Ball, a statistician, said a system like TIA would inevitably identify tens of thousands of innocent people as terrorism suspects. Attempting to follow up on all the leads would lead to useless harassment of many law-abiding citizens.More on this story here.
US EXPATS IN TAX EXILE FACE CRACKDOWN
Late last week the Senate passed a bill that would impose an exit tax on wealthy individuals who become tax exiles. The Senate bill would impose a tax on the market value of assets exceeding $600,000 of people who meet tax or net worth levels if they leave the US and renounce their citizenship. The measure, which passed 97-0, was attached to a bill giving tax breaks to military personnel.
The Senate measure defines “wealthy” as someone who had an annual tax liability of $100,000 for the five years before giving up citizenship or a net worth of more than $500,000. These are the same measures currently used by the IRS to determine whether someone is giving up US citizenship for tax reasons. If this determination is reached they are deemed tax exiles.
Under the expatriation law passed in 1966, these individuals are subject to ordinary income tax on US source income for 10 years and, perhaps more crucially, they are also subject to US estate and gift tax during the 10-year period. [Thus it is unclear that the just-passed law does anything more than restate this old measure.]
In practice, however, offshore tax experts report that wealthy individuals may be able to avoid paying these taxes through careful planning. For example, it may be possible to escape the wealth threshold by reworking assets and reducing net worth to below the $500,000 threshold.More on this story here.
MOHAMED FAYED QUITS BRITAIN TO BECOME A SWISS TAX EXILE
Mohamed Fayed, the owner of Harrods and Fulham Football Club, announced that he had quit Britain and moved to Switzerland to avoid paying high taxes. The tycoon said the decision to find a permanent residence in Geneva was due to “grossly unfair” treatment at the hands of the Inland Revenue, which had refused to retain his special tax status.
During his 35-year stay in Britain, the Egyptian, who had been constantly turned down for British citizenship, had an agreement to pay a lump sum in lieu of tax. Last year it was £240,000. But this was overturned last year and Lord Gill, sitting at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, turned down his appeal.More on this story here.
MOST TAXPAYERS SAY THEY DON’T CHEAT
Little white lies are another matter. It turns out that taxes are a lot like other thorny issues like, say, marital fidelity. Plenty of individuals may publicly swear they stick to the rules. But when it comes to preparing returns in the privacy of their own homes? Well, let’s just say that half of all marriages end in divorce.
The IRS itself seems unclear on the question of tax compliance. Last year, for example, the agency figured as many as 2 million Americans used offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes, but has since slashed that estimate to hundreds of thousands of opportunists.More on this story here.
THE RISE AND FALL OF THE BAHAMAS AS AN OFFSHORE HAVEN
An interesting summary of the history of the Bahamas offshore financial sector. The crux of the matter at hand is the urgent need for the Bahamas’ financial-services sector to reinvent itself and develop a new model for the next 20 years. The old model served them extremely well, but it has run its course.More on this story here.
CANADIAN MONEY-LAUNDERING AMENDMENTS WILL AFFECT BAHAMIAN BANKING RULES
The Canadian Government’s decision to repeal controversial parts of its money laundering regulations will have far-reaching implications for The Bahamas. In an announcement Tuesday, the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and individual law societies said the amendment to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act remove a serious erosion of lawyer/client confidentiality and hail it as an important victory for rights of Canadians.
“The right to representation by an independent lawyer is a basic right in all free and democratic societies. It is woven into the very fabric of our constitution and the Canadian system of justice,” said Professor Vern Krishna, head of the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Bahamas Bar Association president Dr. Maynard said, “At stake here is not just our own system, but really the way in which lawyers relate to their clients. You are entitled to have privileged communications with your client.”More on this story here.
PARTIAL SUCCESS FOR CAYMAN ISLANDS AT ECJ
Although the ECJ’s Court of First Instance dismissed the Cayman Islands’ application for the formation of a Commission Working Party on the issue of the Savings Tax Directive (which will apply information-sharing rules or a withholding tax on investment returns to EU Member States), the ECJ said that the EU cannot impose an obligation on the territory to implement the proposed Directive on the Taxation of Savings Income.
The ECJ said that the question of whether the UK could constitutionally impose the Directive on the Cayman Islands via an Order In Council was something that depended on the exact arrangements between the UK and the Islands, and was outside the ECJ’s remit.More on this story here.
UBS RECOMMENDS WITHHOLDING TAX OPTION FOR JERSEY
Representatives from the Swiss bank UBS have advised the Jersey authorities to choose the withholding tax option over exchange of information when the time comes to implement the European Savings Tax Directive regulations.
Hans Barlocher, president of the JBA and managing director of UBS in Jersey, agreed with his Swiss counterpart, explaining that the withholding tax offered the more flexible solution. It would be also be a much fairer system for Jersey said Barlocher, and would likely be less costly in terms of lost business.More on this story here.
SOUTH AFRICAN FOREX AMNESTY BILL PUBLISHED
The government has published a bill that aims to give legislative effect to the foreign exchange amnesty announced by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel in his Budget speech on February 26. In the preamble to the 18-page section on the amnesty, the government states that its purpose is to enable applicants who have contravened the Exchange Control Regulations or failed to comply with the Income Tax Act relating to foreign assets derived from legitimate sources to regularise their affairs.
It also aims to ensure maximum disclosure of foreign assets and to facilitate repatriation thereof to SA, and to extend the tax base by disclosing previously unreported foreign assets for purposes of taxing the revenue flows and capital gains.More on this story here.
“BRIBERY IS A WAY OF LIFE IN SOUTH AFRICA”
Most South African businesses believe that bribery has become an accepted practice and that police officials were the most corrupt of all, the first comprehensive assessment of corruption in the country has found.
Of the businesses surveyed 49% had experienced theft by employees, and 34% fraud by its workers, while 15% said they had been offered bribes. Only 7% had actually paid a bribe despite the perception by 62% that corruption was now an acceptable way of conducting their trade.More on this story here.
RETIRE LIKE ROYALTY IN A LOW-COST PARADISE
A growing number of Americans are making the leap into early retirement by moving to a country with a lower cost of living. The U.S. State Department estimates some 4 million Americans live abroad, not counting military and embassy folks. About a quarter of those are estimated to be retirees.
From a financial perspective, spending your golden years overseas is certainly tantalizing. Consider how far your Social Security checks might go:
If you are the kind of person who considers only the financial aspects, however, then retiring abroad could be an absolute disaster. At a minimum, people who consider retirement abroad should be adventuresome, flexible, tolerant and patient.More on this story here.
SECURITY ISSUES FUEL US DRIVE FOR FREE-TRADE AGREEMENTS
Since 9/11 the Bush administration has viewed the creation of democratic governance and free markets as the best long-term insurance against international terrorism. With free trade agreements, the US is convinced it can have both commercial expansion and a world free of terrorism. In speeches worldwide, Robert Zoellick, the US trade representative, has stated that free trade agreements will be the initial step in creating the conditions to further US security.
Free market democracies are more likely to settle disputes peacefully, and see international terrorism as a threat to mutually shared values.More on this story here.
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY POLICE OFFICERS INDICTED ON TAX CHARGES
MIAMI: Two veteran Miami-Dade County police officers who refused to acknowledge the authority of the IRS for years were indicted on federal tax-evasion charges. Officers William B. Oertwig Jr., 59, and Ronald E. Young, 44 were immediately relieved from duty without pay. Both had been moved to administrative desk jobs while internal affairs and the IRS were investigating the charges that they filed false W-4s claiming they were exempt from withholding, filed fraudulent tax returns and failed to file returns.More on this story here.
FRANCE’S ART AUCTIONS OPEN UP - PRIVATE DEALERS WIN BIG
PARIS: When the French Parliament threw open the auction business to competition in 2001, ending a 500-year government monopoly, it seemed certain that the big winners would be Sotheby’s and Christie’s. The two giants dominate the global market, with more than $2 billion in annual sales each, and have been eager to establish a firm foothold in France. Yet to everyone’s surprise, it is private local dealers that are grabbing the lion's share of the spoils. And investors betting on the liberalization of the $600 million French market for fine arts are lining up to back these upstarts. “The French market is unlike London or New York. There are myriad smaller dealers,” says François Curiel, president of Christie’s Europe. Curiel claims that Paris now has more potential than either of these art capitals.
Indeed, the French market is just emerging from its own Dark Ages. Prodded by the European Union’s antimonopoly authorities, French legislators moved two years ago to do away with a system dating to the 16th century that permitted only a select group of government-licensed specialists to handle auctions.More on this story here.
A CALL TO BALANCE SECURITY AND LIBERTIES
America must protect its civil liberties even as the government heightens security in response to terrorism, law enforcement experts testified yesterday as a national commission reviewing the 9/11 terrorist attacks completed its first phase of public hearings. Appearing in Lower Manhattan near the destroyed World Trade Center, homeland security experts told the 10-member panel that a balance must be struck to ensure Americans’ right to privacy is not unduly eroded in the war on terrorism.
The privacy issue is one of many that the panel, officially called the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, will grapple with over the next year as it prepares a report on what led to the 9/11 tragedy and its aftermath.More on this story here.
IS YOUR TELEVSION WATCHING YOU?
Could the federal government find out what you are watching on TV? Even if you are not the subject of a criminal investigation? If you are a satellite TV or TiVo owner, the answer is yes, according to legal experts and industry officials.
Under the USA Patriot Act the feds can force a noncable TV operator to disclose every show you have watched. The government just has to say that the request is related to a terrorism investigation, said Jay Stanley, a technology expert for the American Civil Liberties Union. Plus, your TV provider is prohibited from informing you that the feds have requested your personal information. Cable companies do not have to release an individual’s records unless the feds show that the person is the target of a criminal investigation. Even then, the individual must be notified of the request, which he can then challenge in court.More on this story here.
|Previous||News Digest Index||Next|
|Back to top|