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Thread: Panama Papers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    Panama Papers

    When I lived in Belize I knew top officials and saw how any person with wealth could effectively have their own tax haven or island with a police force (One or more did just that in the late 90s). The extent of global tax evasion is way beyond what most people think. People are living on huge ships that have no taxes but have helipads and every comfort know - they move to the most favorable locales. There are cities being planned in Honduras with their own police and tax base with a small kick back - etc. If pollution gets unhealthy in one region they can move to another.

    Rupert Murdock got special reduced tax rates from Congress before locating in the US. Competition is fierce among nations for attracting the corrupt Chinese money, drug money, Putin Oligarchs etc. I believe the Catholic Church could have steered things differently (see Rerum Novarum) if the nations did not agree to keep them tax free.

    Do you think it is a major reason we have nations rather than regional associations with international police and laws - as the Toffler's said should happen in their book The Third Wave, written long ago? Please read the thread on the Westphalian Order and We Can Change the World.

    Then we have a paper or article explaining why few Americans turned up in the papers of a nation which has been under America's thumb for decades. I know arbitrageurs avoid taxes and Wall Streeters involved in currency manipulation have so few laws they don't have to move, but hopefully that will change soon.

    "A massive leak of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca shows that more than 100 prominent people have used the firm’s services to set up accounts in foreign tax havens and avoid paying taxes in their home countries. The firm’s clients include top officials in Argentina, Iceland, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Ukraine, along with eight former world leaders, soccer star Lionel Messi, golfer Nick Faldo, the father of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, and a relative of China’s leader, Xi Jinping. Funneling money to tax havens isn’t necessarily illegal, but the revelations are certainly embarrassing and they show that some public officials seem to have a lot more money than they should.

    Skirting taxes is a global activity, yet the only American who has turned up in the Mossack Fonseca files so far is Marianna Olszewski, an author and financier. Are Americans more honest than taxpayers from other countries? Or do rich Americans simply have better ways of dodging taxes?

    It turns out that rich Americans have less need for tax havens than their comrades elsewhere. “People in other countries pay a lot more in taxes than we do,” says international tax expert Lee Sheppard, contributing editor at Tax Analysts. “In other countries, nearly every rich person has a tax haven bank account. Proportionately, the United States doesn't have as large a problem.”

    The top federal income tax rate in the United States is 39.6%, with a threshold of about $415,000 in income for a single filer. In much of Europe, the top rate is a few points higher—but it kicks in at much lower income levels. As for investment income, the capital gains rate in the U.S. is 20%, and 15% on the type of investment known as “carried interest.” In a few investor-friendly European countries—Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Netherldands—the capital gains rate is 0. But in most of Europe it ranges from 15% to 42%. And few countries have as many generous tax deductions as the United States.

    Who's looking for tax havens?

    Tax experts generally identify three categories of people who seek global tax havens: criminals; “politically exposed persons,” or PEPs, who enrich themselves while holding office and need to hide the money; and regular rich folk who want to conceal assets from family members, ex-spouses and the like. Many of the characters who turned up in the Panama Papers appear to be PEPs who are more interested in keeping cash from public view than minimizing the tax bills on legitimate income.

    For wealthy Americans who just want to maximize the value of their assets, setting up a tax haven account isn’t very appealing. For starters, it’s expensive, requiring costly lawyers, accountants, trustees and other specialists who know how to pull all the levers. And instead of earning a return on your money, as most investors prefer, you pay hefty fees to foreign banks that offset any earnings.

    Still, average, not-so-wealthy Americans can open offshore accounts too. Millions already do and they aren’t banking abroad to try to swindle the U.S. government or necessarily maximize their assets. But the IRS is making it harder for people to conceal overseas money. The agency issued new rules recently that impose stricter penalties for people who don’t report foreign assets, a move that has helped triple the number of filings since 2005, according to the IRS.

    Today, individuals who hold over $10,000 in foreign-held banks are required to submit records of their accounts to the IRS each year. Under the government’s new, more complex rules on foreign asset reporting issued in 2014, financial institutions must report U.S. customers with accounts totaling more than $50,000 to the IRS. This has become a big enough headache for foreign banks that it’s made opening bank accounts abroad tougher for some Americans.

    There are risks, as well. Established havens such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands cater to certain types of businesses and don’t really want to deal with individuals, because it could sully their reputation with corporate clients. Other havens might take anybody, but your money may not be safe at less reputable institutions on little-known island nations. Allen Stanford spent 20 years operating an outfit in Antigua called Stanford International Bank, and it turned out he was spending his depositors’ money. A jury convicted him of fraud and other charges in 2012, and a judge sentenced him to 110 years in prison."

    Lucius Seneca has some dots to offer in a history no witness can aver or testify about. You can call it pumpkinification is there is truly such a word.

    "One must be born either a Pharaoh or a fool. If I choose to answer, I will say whatever trips off my tongue. Who has ever made the historian produce witness to swear for him? But if an authority must be produced, ask of the man who saw Drusilla translated to heaven: the same man will aver he saw Claudius on the road, dot and carry one. [Sidenote: Virg. Aen. ii, 724] Will he nill he, all that happens in heaven he needs must see. He is the custodian of the Appian Way; by that route, you know, both Tiberius and Augustus went up to the gods. Question him, he will tell you the tale when you are alone; before company he is dumb. You see he swore in the Senate that he beheld Drusilla mounting heavenwards, and all he got for his good news was that everybody gave him the lie: since when he solemnly swears he will never bear witness again to what he has seen, not even if he had seen a man murdered in open market. What he told me I report plain and clear, as I hope for his health and happiness."
    Last edited by R_Baird; 04-07-2016 at 12:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    If the universities like Harvard are teaching Wall Street whiz kids to do things illegal or to stay in front of new laws designed to stop the greed - it will not change. Higher ups get higher learning.

    Risk Management in hospitals includes how to kill, maim and abuse people safely - safe for the hospital (of course).

    Don't talk about justice - to a lawyer, unless you want to start a career as a comedian.

    All walks of life are almost as bad as Churches (The biggest tax dodge) and rape artists in mining ventures or those who dispose hazardous chemicals.

    There are basic fundamental issues and approaches which need review starting with Sovereign Rights. Over a third of people in Greece (or is it a third of the taxes never get collected, or is it the underground economy is a third of what the normal economy is, or is it all of these.) are major tax cheats - and the rich or bureaucrats are the worst.

    "European leaders are scrambling to tighten rules on tax evasion this week as the Panama Papers data dump continues to cause political shockwaves around the world.

    David Cameron, the U.K.'s prime minister, is expected to announce measures to combat tax avoidance on Monday and meanwhile Germany and France's finance ministers have vowed to tighten rules against tax havens.

    The initiatives come as the European Union's vice-president for Jobs, Growth and Competitiveness likened tax avoidance to a "cancer" that had to be tackled.

    "It's a bad disease, it's a cancer of market economies," Jyrki Katainen told CNBC on the sidelines of the Ambrosetti workshop in Italy this weekend.

    "The market economy is a fantastic tool to create wealth and to give all citizens the opportunity to distribute the wealth in a fair manner but if you only want to take the fruits and not pay your liabilities in terms of taxes then it's not fair and it's a cancer," he said.

    Katainen refused to comment on the circumstances surrounding specific leaders such as David Cameron, the U.K. prime minister who is in hot water over his own tax affairs following the Panama Papers leak.

    "All tax avoidance is always bad but especially if you are a democratically-elected leader…You are a leader of the people and you are playing with different rules than your own citizens. It's a matter of confidence, it's a matter of fairness," he said.

    Katainen's comments come as European leaders move to calm growing public anger over alleged tax avoidance with the global scandal over tax evasion already claiming one victim, the Icelandic prime minister, his job last week .

    At the weekend, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron published a summary of his tax returns in a bid to try to clear his name after accusations of tax avoidance. He also announced this weekend plans to set up a task force to investigate allegations of tax-dodging and money laundering .

    The moves followed calls for Cameron to resign in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal in which millions of documents detailing the opaque offshore business dealings of an array of global political leaders, handled by Panamaniam law firm Mossack Fonseca , were leaked last week.

    Cameron is under fire for failing to previously disclose that he and his family had invested in an offshore investment fund run by his late father, which was exposed in this week's massive Panama Papers data dump.

    According to the documents, Cameron's late father ran an investment vehicle which avoided paying tax in the United Kingdom by having directors hold board meetings in Switzerland and the Bahamas.

    After initially refusing to divulge details on his interest in the fund, the U.K. leader revealed to ITV news Thursday that he and his wife had previously held a stake in the offshore trust.

    Cameron said he sold the shares before he entering Number 10 in 2010 and had paid all UK taxes due on profits from the 30,000 sale.

    On Monday, Cameron is due to face fellow politicians in parliament and is also due to announce that new legislation making companies criminally liable if employees aid tax evasion will be introduced this year, Reuters said.

    Signaling that Europe's leaders are worried about the public backlash against alleged tax evasion by the rich and powerful, as suggested by the Panama Papers, Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Scheuble also gave details on Sunday of a plan to combat tax havens.

    His counterpart in France, meanwhile, said last week that Panama would be put back on a list of countries blacklisted as "uncooperative tax jurisdictions," a move which Panama's president said was "wrong and unnecessary," according to media reports.

    Showing that the Panama affair could still claim more victims, it was reported on Sunday that French tax police searched Societe Generale's headquarters last week as part of an investigation into offshore accounts revealed by the Panama Papers.

    The searches on April 5 were a "normal development in the context of such an investigation," a spokesman for the bank told Reuters on Sunday but declined to comment further."
    Last edited by R_Baird; 04-11-2016 at 03:25 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    The solutions require ethical people and a good start would include the use of lie detection for those who run for any public office. Here are some good questions for priests and the rest of the motley menagerie including the police.

    1. Have you ever forced your sex partners to do things they did not want to do?

    2. Have you ever been "physical" with your children?

    3. Have you ever killed innocent higher lifeforms without just cause?

    4. If offered a million dollars would you deprive others of justice or __________?

    5. Are you a liar or extreme religious freako like Shrub and _______?

    Can you see how double-speak is better than plain speech in the administration of any management position taught in courses like the above?

    If we cancelled the tax deductions for these courses those who took them would make more money - yes/no?
    Last edited by R_Baird; 04-11-2016 at 03:44 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    It might be true that average people are more upset by the corruption in high places including Putin and Cameron, but I doubt Putin and his oligarchs will stop doing what people like the Marcos cabal or Batista did, and those who are truly old money have tax loopholes already in place.

    ""It shows how much progress we have made because it shows also that the tolerance (for tax havens) is very dramatically reduced. And also the fact that it shook everybody up (shows that) now it is an exceptionality rather than the rule," Angel Gurria, the secretary general of the OECD, said in Washington D.C.

    The OECD is an influential international organization to which 34 mostly major economies belong. Panama, a small country in Latin America, is not a member.

    The so-called Panama Papers have exposed more than 11.5 million financial and legal records and revealed the heads of states and other public figures around the world that are sheltering wealth offshore.

    The leak came from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.

    On Thursday, the OECD published a report stating that a number of countries were yet to implement international tax transparency standards that were agreed in 2009.

    Panama, along with Bahrain, has refused to commit to new standards that are due to come into effect in 2017 and 2018.

    "Panama had been the last holdout, if you will, of the large financial centers," Gurria told CNBC on Friday.

    The OECD noted the limited availability of accounting records and ownership information for private foundations in Panama, as well as its unresponsiveness to requests from other countries for tax exchange agreements.

    Gurria expressed hope on Friday that Panama would commit to higher standards in the wake of the leak.

    "I would like to think that this accident, this incident — the silver lining of it is that now Panama will join the rest of mankind," he told CNBC.

    He hinted that Panama-based companies might ultimately face sanctions if their country did not adopt higher standards.

    "In the end, it is their call and if they join — very good. If they don't, they'll be some consequences," Gurria told CNBC.

    "There could be constraints put on, or sanctions put on, to companies and therefore indirectly to the country," he later added.

    Offshore accounts are a traditional way for the wealthy to diversify the location of their investments, benefit from lower tax rates or enjoy lower regulatory oversight.

    The prime minister of Iceland and Spain's acting industry minister have resigned in the wake of the Panama Papers. Both former ministers were linked to offshore companies, but deny wrongdoing.

    CNBC has been unable to independently verify the allegations."

    If all nations actually do create new laws and their bureaucrats are unable to circumvent those laws (Which I assure you I saw plenty of in Belize.) then the super rich will run their accounts through ships at sea or on the moon - they will find a way to do what they have always done.
    Last edited by R_Baird; 04-15-2016 at 08:42 AM.

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