Showing posts from June, 2013

The Three T’s: Tax, Transparency and Trade

So the G8 Summit came and went.  For the British PM it was all about ‘the three T’s: Tax, Transparency and Trade.’  On both sides of the Atlantic, politicians have recently been pointing fingers at multinationals who use available legal mechanisms to minimize their tax liabilities.  In the UK, American multinationals like Google, Amazon and Starbucks, have been particularly criticized.  So the G8 saw some grand statements but unsurprisingly, there was very little actual detail.  
The final communique included the phrase – “tax authorities should automatically share information to fight the scourge of tax evasion”.  There is no need to point out that “should” is very different from “will”.  I still maintain that global sharing of information is simply not plausible although limited information exchanges based on bilateral agreements may continue to grow.  To me, Switzerland’s recent Parliamentary decision is an interesting case study.
The WSJ reported that Switzerland’s lower house of…

Biggest Information Leak in History

So, as of June 14th, the list is now publicly accessible.  We have seen children and other family members of ex-Dictators, gun runners, ex-Ministers and other politicians, military generals, actors, jailed fraudsters, business people already under investigation, bankers with famous last names etc on this list.   On this list we find Imee Marcos, daughter of the former Philippine president Ferdinand Edralin Marcos so Philippine authorities are investigating if the money is part of the $5 billion which Marcos allegedly stole from the country in the 1980s.  On the list are family members of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili, the wife of former Russian First Vice Premier Igor Shuvalov – Olga, Deputy Director of the Board of Gazprom Valeriy Golubev and Ukrainian oligarchs Rinat Akhmetov and Dmytro Firtash.
There are supposed to be about 1000 ‘British names’.  Thinking about my favorite Caribbean island of Trinidad, I note that the list inclu…

Do Taxes Fund Innovation?

PM Cameron had a small set back this week.   Bermuda refused to sign his tax evasion deal.  The PM hoped to have all British territories onside in advance of the upcoming G8 but the Bermuda Premier has made it clear that he will not sign up to the multilateral agreement on the exchange of information.
Firstly, one can understand the reluctance of certain British dependencies to go along with this initiative willingly.  I remember spending time in Anguilla and a business person explained to me that the high point of the year for islanders was getting that magic number.  The magic number being their annual allocation from London.  An allocation which continues to decline in the light of austerity measures.  Tourism is a strange and not always dependable bed fellow and for some territories it is either a junior partner to, or works synergistically with, financial services.  Removal of that veil of banking secrecy goes some way to reducing the competitive advantage of some of these Briti…

More Trouble for Investors in Caribbean Property Scheme

Troubled Harlequin embroiled in 15 further legal battles Author: Laura Miller IFAonline | 12 Jun 2013 | 13:42 Categories: Investment Topics: HarlequinSFO

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Harlequin Property, the troubled UK-based overseas property sales agent which is at the centre of a Serious Fraud Office investigation, is embroiled in 15 legal battles in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, IFAonline can reveal.
A document obtained by IFAonline from the St. Vincent and the Grenadines High Court dated 6 March 2013 outlines a string of cases in the process of being brought against Harlequin, its chairman David Ames, and the group's resorts in the Caribbean including Buccament Bay and Merricks.
The dates of the cases being heard at the court range from 6 March to 6 June this year, and are being brought by a range of diff…

China vs. the USA

Xi Jinping’s first visit to Latin America and the Caribbean as China’s President took place between May 31st to June 6th.  On June 2nd, the Chinese President met with the heads of 9 of 14 independent Caribbean territories in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.  Each of the 9 leaders made statements after individual short meetings with the Chinese President.  From the media reports, 8 leaders praised China for the loans and assistance the Chinese government is giving.  President Jinping announced an additional $3 billion financial package for the region.  Only the Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart, raised with the Chinese President the need to improve China’s imports.  China enjoys a significant trade surplus with the Caribbean. 
For the most part, I thought that mainstream media coverage of the event lacked any real substance.  Aside from the Economist, there was painfully little analysis of the possible geopolitical implications of this historic visit.  The …

Defending the Dollar

CNBC published a story on February 14th this year entitled ‘Is the Dollar Dying? Why US Currency Is in Danger’.  Many believe that the one of the key pillars of the US economy is the fact that the US dollar remains the world’s reserve currency which for me includes the petrodollar system.  This allows the US to continue running deficits and printing currency to stimulate its economy.  The CNBC article is pointing out that according to the International Monetary Fund, the dollar has drifted to a 15-year low and is shrinking as a percentage of the world's currency supply, raising concerns that the greenback is about to see its long run as the world's premier denomination come to an end.
While more countries are willing to use other currencies to do business, the American currency still reigns supreme.  It constitutes $3.72 trillion, or 62 percent, of the $6 trillion in allocated foreign exchange holdings by the world's central banks.  The Japanese yen, Swiss franc and what …