By Cobus de Swardt, Global Financial Integrity, July 9, 2014
Curbing Cross-Border Corruption via Anonymous Companies Should Be a Priority for Global Leaders in 2014, Says Transparency International’s Cobus de Swardt
Corruption around the world is facilitated by the ability to launder and hide proceeds derived from the abuse of power, bribery and secret deals. Dirty money enters the financial system and is given the semblance of originating from a legitimate source often by using corporate vehicles offering disguise, concealment and anonymity. For example, corrupt politicians used secret companies to obscure their identity in 70 percent of more than 200 cases of grand corruption survey by the World Bank.
For far too long, corrupt figures have been able to easily stash the proceeds of corruption in foreign banks or to invest them in luxurious mansions, expensive cars or lavish lifestyles. They do this with impunity and in blatant disregard for the citizens or customers they are supposed to serve.
Importantly, the corrupt are aided by complacent and sometimes complicit governments of countries with banking centers that facilitate money laundering and allow the corrupt to cross their borders to enjoy stolen wealth. Weak government actions are failing to prevent the corrupt from evading justice and have enabled cross-border transfers of corrupt assets. Complacent governments responsible for protecting the public from such criminal acts are de facto supporting impunity for corruption.
By Michele Fletcher, June 30, 2014
This week’s optimistic hubbub surrounding the Swiss-Indian information exchange seemed to mark a new beginning for Swiss transparency and a major breakthrough in India’s hunt for black money. Unfortunately, little happened: Switzerland admitted only the amount of money Indians had stashed in Swiss banks and rejected requests for information regarding specific account holders.
Despite the media’s rude awakening when the Swiss revealed that accountholder information would remain confidential, this result should not have been surprising. A quick look at the Swiss attitude towards information exchange—especially automatic exchange of information, the OECD’s biggest step towards financial transparency—shows that the media’s optimism was premature. Instead, India’s request to Switzerland should be viewed as a litmus test of the Swiss attitude towards the future of banking secrecy.
By Grace Zhao, June 13, 2014
Swiss banks can’t be as secretive today as they were many years ago. The World Won’t Let Them.
For years, secrecy jurisdictions such as Switzerland helped U.S. depositors use their own secrecy laws to avoid U.S. income taxes. Banking secrecy was firmly established in Switzerland in 1934 when it became a criminal offense to reveal a client’s identity. As a result, Swiss banks have helped hide around $2.1 trillion in offshore accounts. Today this is an increasingly unacceptable amount of money to hide away.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, banks in secrecy jurisdictions have faced increasing international pressures to make banking information more transparent. Such banks have been urged to take on the automatic exchange of information on bank accounts.
By Grace Zhao, June 6, 2014
Offshore tax havens impact everybody in the United States, raising the individual tax bills of each American citizen. In fact, every U.S. taxpayer had to pay approximately $1,259 extra on their tax bill this year due to lost...
By Koen Roovers, Global Financial Integrity, May 27, 2014
By Koen Roovers
Originally posted on the Financial Transparency Coalition blog
Last week, Credit Suisse, a staple of the Swiss banking industry, pleaded guilty to conspiring to help US citizens “hide their wealth” for decades, in order to avoid taxes. The debate that has emerged in the wake of US Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement seems to focus on whether or not the fine—roughly US$2.6 billion—is fair. Is it high enough?
It might not be much more than a couple of month’s earnings for this major bank. In the wake of the guilty plea, does this settlement prove the suspicion of many that ‘banks are too big too jail’?
Even so, the punishment might be some conciliation to the US. But is it naïve to think that the bank was only involved in this practice in the US? While the US might have the capacity and power to bring a powerful bank like Credit Suisse “to justice”, other countries might not be in that position.
The official website of Credit Suisse makes mention of 55 other countries of operation, besides the US and Switzerland. Among this list are a number of South American, Asian and African nations. Some of these very countries are at the center of the problem of illicit financial flows – money leaving a country undetected, untaxed, and unaccounted.
Global Financial Integrity Calls for Automatic Exchange of Tax Information
WASHINGTON, DC – Amidst speculation over details of a possible tax agreement between Switzerland and Britain, Global Financial Integrity (GFI) reiterated the message that a broader, global solution to illicit financial practices and banking secrecy is needed.
WASHINGTON, DC — Global Financial Integrity (GFI) applauds the on-going work of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service towards bringing wealthy tax evading citizens to justice. Following the release today of the previously confidential “annex” of criteria UBS will use to choose which accounts it remits information on, GFI urges consideration of further comprehensive reform of global financial protocols as significant shortcomings remain in the diplomatic and regulatory landscape.
WASHINGTON, DC – According to a new analysis of financial jurisdictions prepared by UK-based civil society group Tax Justice Network, the state of Delaware is the most secretive financial jurisdiction in the world. Based on the laws and practices of 60 financial jurisdictions the Financial Secrecy Index (FSI) ranks jurisdictions according to their level of secrecy and the extent to which they cooperate with tax authorities in other countries.