Aug 17, 2018 – The New Yorker story about Browder: How do you get credibility for a story that is mostly lies? You throw in a few negatives about the person you are going to white-wash. Then you repeat all his unproved assertions as if they were fact. And you don‘t bother to provide evidence. And you ignore the major story you ought to be telling.
Nov 25, 2017 – William Browder has blocked the Russians from investigating how he may have used shell companies in offshore Cyprus to fraudulently move assets out of Russia. He filed a request to a court in Cyprus asking an emergency injunction on transfer of any data about his activities to Russia. Then 17 of his loyal supporters in the European Parliament asked the Cyprus government not to cooperate with Russia in its investigation into how Browder might have used his offshore companies in tax evasion, illicit share purchases and fraudulent bankruptcy.
100Reporters, Oct 20, 2017 – The controversial New York meeting in June 2016 between Donald Trump’s campaign team and a group of Russians, initiated as a talk about finding dirt on Hillary Clinton, is drawing new scrutiny of US economic sanctions against targeted Russians.
At the meeting, Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump confederates, lured by a promise of compromising information on Trump‘s rival, instead stumbled upon a quagmire: a fraud that bilked the Russian treasury of $230 million; a trans-Atlantic dispute over offshore accounts and tax evasion, and a U.S.-born investor, William Browder, who once ran the largest foreign investment fund in Russia, and who plays the eminence grise in this drama.
Browder is perhaps best known as an investor in Russia turned an anti-corruption activist, and the driving force behind the Magnitsky Act, the battery of economic sanctions aimed at Russian officials.
June 3, 2016 – Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize-winning former chief economist of the World Bank, says that the way to solve corruption and money-laundering facilitated by offshore banks that run secret accounts is to “shut them down.” And the way to do that is to ban non-transparent banks from US correspondent accounts. He spoke at a Council on Foreign Relations meeting today.
At the breakfast on “Is U.S. Finance Hurting Growth?”, he addressed an aspect of banking that was not on the agenda, asking, “Why do we have offshore banking?
The American Interest, May 12, 2016 – Solving the offshore money-laundering and tax evasion system is easy, but the Obama Administration‘s proposal isn‘t the way to do it.
Stung by the Panama Papers revelations of worldwide tax evasion by the rich and powerful, President Obama has seized the moment to propose a solution guaranteed to gather headlines”and then fail. But if he wanted to, he could, through the Treasury Department, end the system of offshore tax havens with a stroke of the pen.
First, let‘s look at the solution and, then, at what‘s wrong with the President‘s proposal.
The Obama proposal acknowledges the threat offshoring poses to our national security. Treasury estimates that $300 billion in illicit proceeds are generated annually in the United States due to financial crimes. But it then essentially ignores the powerful weapon it can wield against that threat.
April 26, 2016 – A drumbeat of the Troika that ended Greek sovereignty last year was that the government wasn‘t collecting taxes. The Troika was the European Commission (EC), the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank. That charge came from a collection of states that includes some of the world’s worst tax evasion enablers, including the Luxembourg of EC President Jean-Claude Junker, whose country is a world class tax haven. Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis revealed for the first time how days after he resigned, the Troika effectively abolished a unit he had set up to combat tax evasion.
Jan 15, 2015 – Anne Applebaum wrote an article about Putin’s Russia in the Dec. 18, 2014 issue of the New York Review of Books that was filled with distortions. When I saw NYRB editor Robert Silvers at a Dissent magazine party in New York Dec. 5th, I told him my opinion. He said to send him my comments. But then he declined to print those comments and said that he would run this editorial statement:
Lucy Komisar has written to us that she has a statement to make about the article by Anne Applebaum in our December 18, 2014 issue. This statement is available on her website, The Komisar Scoop. ” The Editors.
Sergey Ivanov, the Russian deputy prime minister, spoke at a Council on Foreign Relations lunch today. I asked if he thought the U.S. and Russia should get together to put a stop to offshore tax evasion. He smiled and agreed that the two countries need to deal with the international offshore system. That was something to consider in the future. And then he said, There are more than 1,000 banks in Russia. They are not banks but launderers.
The American Interest, Jan-Feb 2011 (online Dec 9, 2010)
Corporate secrecy, which involves hiding the identities of company owners from tax and other legal authorities, is itself no secret. It is well known that offshore banking centers such as Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the Cayman Islands have for many years enabled fraudsters all over the world to carry out scams, launder illicit profits, stash stolen loot and hide money from tax authorities.
What most people do not know, however, is that there is a vast and growing American offshore. Foreign crooks prize states such as Nevada, Wyoming and especially Delaware for state laws that don‘t require them to list owners or even company officials when a new company is formed. Corporate interests and the Obama administration are blocking congressional efforts to change that.
The American Interest, July-Aug 2010 (online May 18, 2010) –
As I write this, the U.S. Senate is debating a major financial reform bill in which the credit default swap, a kind of derivative, plays a significant part. An amendment to that bill, proposed by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), would ban banks from proprietary trading. There are a lot of high-rolling bankers who do not want that amendment to pass, because it will mess up their plans to repatriate foreign profits into the United States, untaxed, by trading in derivatives on their own accounts. The clearinghouse ICE Trust U.S. forms a central part of these plans.
What is ICE Trust U.S., and who owns it? ICE US Holding Co., which was established in 2008 as the parent of ICE Trust U.S., is located in the Cayman Islands. Yet none of the owners of ICE US Holding Co. are based in the Caymans. Among the owners of the Cayman‘s company are Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, which are headquartered in New York. Bank of America, which now owns Merrill Lynch, is based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In September 2004, David Beringer, the tax director of the $20-billion Noble Group based in Hong Kong, wrote a memo to company officials, expressing concern that if Swiss officials discovered that a Noble subsidiary in Zurich was doing work that it pretended to contract to a fake company in Bermuda, the subsidiary might have to pay Swiss taxes. This story has not been reported before.
What follows are the heretofore secret details about how Noble, and global companies like it, use legitimate lawyers and accounting firms to create the fake structures used to cheat on taxes around the world. This story has not been reported before.
The Zurich company was called Noble Investments SA, Zurich (NISA). The Bermuda company was called Noble Investments Ltd. (NIL).
The Noble Group is the world‘s second-largest commodities trading and logistics company, after Cargill. It specializes in energy, agriculture, mining and minerals. It is listed on the Singapore stock exchange (NOBG.SI).
Inter Press Service (IPS), July 14, 2009 – At a recent conference in Miami organised by Offshore Alert, a specialised media organisation focused on financial crime, IPS sat down with veteran investigator Bob Roach to discuss the hurdles facing regulators trying to crack down on tax havens, which cost the U.S. alone an estimated 100 billion dollars annually.
Key civil society criticisms are that the OECD standards require bilateral agreements for information on request, not automatic multilateral tax information exchange; that they call for only 12 such agreements to be signed by each tax haven; and that getting off the blacklist entails only promises, which have not been kept by tax havens in the past.
Inter Press Service (IPS), April 30, 2009 – The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is hitting pay dirt with a novel legal tactic designed to catch tax evaders. And it’s going to use it to force international banks to give up the names of tax cheats. It’s called the John Doe summons. Using John Doe means the IRS doesn’t know the names of the suspected tax evaders. So it sends a summons to a bank or credit card company that says, Give us the names and account information of all your U.S. clients with secret offshore accounts. Daniel Reeves, an IRS agent in charge of the tax agency’s offshore compliance initiative, afforded an unusual look into the broad swath of projects that seek tax-cheating John Doe’s every place from accounts of the giant Swiss bank UBS to the records of Pay Pal.
This could be the moment when a fatal blow is delivered to the world’s tax havens. Or it could be another largely cosmetic change that allows offshore financial centres such as Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and Liechtenstein to deflect attacks on the system by sacrificing the few tax miscreants that governments catch in their nets.
Decisions at the G20 government leaders meeting in London Apr. 2 will set the direction.
Offshore centres, worried what may happen in London, are falling all over themselves promising to cooperate with the major powers on the trail of tax cheats. But the holes in the tax havens’ promises are as big as those in Switzerland’s famous cheese.
Many believe that automatic exchange of information is the only really effective way to end pandemic tax evasion. Some very good proposals are made in a leaked French paper which is linked to the full story.
The U.S. government might finally get a powerful tool against offshore tax evasion by mega-wealthy individuals and corporations. The worst most miscreants face now is negotiated pay-ups years after they are caught.
A bill introduced last week by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) would make tax evasion using international transfers a criminal money-laundering offense.
The law aims at cases in which money passes through tax havens. It targets not just the evaded taxes, but any money that is part of the scam.
At a time when New York State’s budget is reeling from Wall Street tax losses — Wall Street pays 20 to 30 percent of revenues — you’d think Governor David Paterson would want to recoup all the evaded taxes he could get. That doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to corporations that launder their profits offshore.
Paterson refused to deal with the issue and instead answered a question I hadn‘t asked. I wonder why. Does that mean he won’t go after corporate tax evaders? Here is the exchange from the Council‘s transcript of David Patterson meeting.
President Barack Obama said he would crack down on firms that use offshore centres to evade taxes. He could begin with a New York subsidiary of one of the world’s largest private banks, which used a Cayman Islands company to shift its profits.
Why would a New York investment fund manager run operations through an office in the Caymans? This type of structure is for optimising taxes, explained Max Obrist, a Cayman Islands official of the global Julius Baer Group (Zurich).
He told IPS that generating the income where a company was actually based, you would pay much more taxes. Obrist was describing a company shifting claimed earnings to tax havens to evade home taxes. He allegedly helped Julius Baer Investment Management (JBIM) New York do just that.
Gordon Brown and Barack Obama are both promising to crack down on the use of offshore tax havens. But putting those tough words into practice is another matter.
One of the world’s biggest private wealth management groups circulates funds via offices in the Cayman Islands, claiming they take major investment decisions ” when the main work is apparently carried out in London.
With offices in London and across the globe, Swiss-based Julius Baer banking group invests over $300 billion ( £208 billion) in assets on behalf of institutions and wealthy individuals. Profits in 2007 were more than $1.1 billion.
In London, one of its units was known as Julius Baer Investors or Julius Baer Investment Management (JBIM) until a management buyout in 2007. It was renamed Augustus Asset Managers, is based in Bevis Marks in the City, and is still 10% owned by Julius Baer.
From London, Augustus controls assets of $12 billion but claims its profits are generated elsewhere, offshore at a Cayman Islands Baer subsidiary called Baer Select Management.
Why? Simple, really. “If you would generate all the income in London, you would pay much more taxes,” acknowledged Max Obrist, a Cayman Islands executive of Julius Baer.
It sounded like the plot of an action thriller. A U.S. Senate subcommittee held hearings Thursday on how UBS/Switzerland, the world’s largest private bank, and LGT (Liechtenstein Global Trust), owned by the royal family of that micro-tax-haven state, organised complex tax evasion schemes for U.S. clients, and used spy-type tactics to avoid being detected.
LGT bankers allegedly used code names and public phones instead of making calls that could be traced. UBS agents carried encrypted laptops and business cards that didn’t mention they were in the wealth management division. According to testimony and records, both banks took care to disguise their activities because moving and hiding the money of tax evaders and other criminals is very lucrative, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in profits.
Condé-Nast Portfolio, July 16, 2008 – Code names, secretive European royalty, encrypted computers. A spy novel? Nope. Nope. It’s how two European banks helped rich Americans duck the taxman, a Senate probe found.
The Newport regatta has always drawn America’s moneyed class, and the Art Basel show in Miami is hot on the nouveau riche circuit”making both glitzy venues ideal for financial giants to prospect for new clients.
But UBS, one of the world’s largest banks, had another goal in mind when it shelled out money for the UBS Regatta Cup in Newport or the Art Basel Art Fair in Miami, or performances in major U.S. cities by the UBS Vervier Orchestra.
Tony Defries, the rock manager who launched David Bowie and who takes credit for managing, marketing and branding such rock stars as Lou Reed and John Mellencamp as well as being “present at the birth of Madonna [and] the reincarnation of Stevie Wonder,” might be making some headlines of his own soon. (He is shown here in 1972 with Bowie’s wife Angie on his right.)
The ex-impresario, a Brit who now lives in Los Angeles and who for a promoter is unaccountably interview- and camera-shy, was one of the beneficiaries of a fake annuity scheme organized by a Swiss bank and its partner, a pseudo insurance company whose main product seems to be tax evasion. But the benefit turned out to be a disaster.
Click above to see a 6-minute video of Prof. Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate, former Chief Economist of the World Bank, former head of the Council of Economic Advisors to President Clinton. He explains what is wrong with tax havens.
There’s an astonishing article in the Washington Post’s Business Section (Risk. Now They See It. Now You Don’t.Sept 16, 2007)
The Post, which has never, ever, railed against tax havens, is now suggesting that their use to cheat tax authorities and investors threatens the entire global financial system. Of course, it doesn’t put it so starkly, but that’s the gist.
The Post says, Over the past few years, major banks figured out how to use conduits and structured investment vehicles to earn big fees while playing cute little games of tax and regulatory arbitrage and keeping it all pretty much hidden from investors.
Where does The Post think those off-balance-sheet investment vehiclesare?Most of Enron’s were in Grand Cayman. The Post should connect the dots. Tax and regulatory arbitrage plus hidden plus off-balance-sheet investment vehicles = offshore.
Why did regulators tolerate the use of offshore? Because global tax evasion and avoidance of regulation is something corporations want. That’s what offshore secrecy is for. Now, will Congress act, in spite of corporate power, when there is a threat to the entire global financial system?