Category Archives: Tax Havens

Trump’s Tax Plan Leaves the Swamp Untouched

Charles Hugh Smith writes for The American Conservative:

President Trump’s tax plan gives those of us with long memories a strong sense of déjà vu. We’ve seen this play before, and the ending is inevitably modest: a few of the pieces of a horrendously complex, unfair tax system are moved around, victory is declared, and the creatures of the Swamp—those self-serving elites that benefit from the complex, unfair monstrosity—continue raking in their billions of dollars in fees while the rest of us are burdened with billions of dollars in tax-preparation costs.

The opening act of this tax-reform play always starts with a claim that by golly, this time we’re really going to simplify the tax code. Trump’s plan calls for reducing the number of tax brackets and eliminating all deductions other than those for charity and mortgage interest; by way of compensation, the standard deduction will be doubled.

Such changes make for catchy headlines, but the reality is the tax code will still run to thousands of pages.

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‘A Land Grab by the Ruling Elites’: Trump’s Tax Plan Derided for Benefiting the Rich

Amy Goodman speaks with economist James Henry of the Tax Justice Network about the Trump White House plan to give the nation’s millionaires and billionaires a massive tax break. (Democracy Now!)

Joe Biden to Davos: The Top 1% Must Pay Its Fair Share or Else…

Jay Yarow reports for CNBC:

Image result for Joe Biden to DavosIn his final speech as vice president, Joe Biden warned that the top 1 percent needed to pay their fair share, or else.

Biden delivered his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, which is attended by world leaders, top executives, investors and members of the press.

The outgoing vice president started his speech by noting that there is a “palpable sense of uncertainty about the state of the world,” and we need to ask ourselves, “What kind of world are we going to leave for our children?”

The main theme of his speech was that the “liberal international world order” is at risk of collapse, as bad actors like Russia meddle in elections and try to undermine the progressive values of the United States and Europe.

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Jean-Claude Juncker Blocked EU Curbs on Tax Avoidance, Cables Show

Simon Bowers reports for The Guardian:

Image result for Jean-Claude JunckerThe president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, spent years in his previous role as Luxembourg’s prime minister secretly blocking EU efforts to tackle tax avoidance by multinational corporations, leaked documents reveal.

Years’ worth of confidential German diplomatic cables provide a candid account of Luxembourg’s obstructive manoeuvres inside one of Brussels’ most secretive committees.

The code of conduct group on business taxation was set up almost 19 years ago to prevent member states from being played off against one another by increasingly powerful multinational businesses, eager to shift profits across borders and avoid tax.

Little has been known until now about the workings of the committee, which has been meeting since 1998, after member states agreed a code of conduct on tax policies and pledged not to engage in “harmful competition” with one another.

However, the leaked cables reveal how a small handful of countries have used their seats on the committee to frustrate concerted EU action and protect their own tax regimes.

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Trump’s Tax Plan: Massive Cuts For the 1% Will Usher ‘Era of Dynastic Wealth’

Rupert Neate reports for The Guardian:

Image result for Trump’s tax planPresident Donald Trump is set to give America’s richest 1% an average annual tax cut of $214,000 when he takes office, while more than eight million families with children are expected to suffer financially under his proposed tax plan.

On the eve of the election, Trump promised to “massively cut taxes for the middle class, the forgotten people, the forgotten men and women of this country, who built our country”. But independent expert analyses of Trump’s tax plan show that America’s millionaire and billionaire class will win big at the expense of struggling low- and middle-income people, who turned out in large numbers to help the real estate billionaire win the election.

Experts warn that Trump’s tax plan will exacerbate America’s already chronic income inequality and herald in a “new era of dynastic wealth”.

“The Trump tax plan is heavily, heavily, skewed to the most wealthy, who will receive huge savings,” said Lily Batchelder, a law professor and tax expert at New York University. “At the same time, millions of low-income families – particularly single-parent households – will face an increase.”

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George Osborne is trying to turn post-Brexit Britain into a tax haven

Kirsty Major writes for The Independent:

george-osborne-1.jpgThe UK is finally catching up with its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies by inching ever closer to becoming a fully-fledged tax haven. And that’s without any of the sunshine to ease the pain.

Despite ongoing concern over corporate tax avoidance, George Osborne has announced that he plans to slash corporation tax from 20 to 15 per cent. The aim of the measure is to signal to multinational corporations that in spite of the uncertainty over Brexit, the UK is “open for business”. The new rate, if implemented, would give the UK the lowest corporation tax of any major economy.

In response to the announcement, the OECD’s head of tax Pascal Saint-Amans said: “A further step in that direction would really turn the UK into a tax haven type of economy.” Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has similarly warned that Osborne is “offering up Britain as a tax haven”.

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The Cheats Who Are Poisoning Britain

Former Labour MP Austin Mitchell and Prem Sikka, Professor of Accounting at the University of Essex, write for Tribune:

In Britain, people complacently assume that corruption is something that goes on everywhere else and it is a matter of slipping a few quid to greedy officials. In fact corruption is a very British phenomenon, which has increased, is increasing and must be diminished.

Other countries complain of “regulatory capture” when the mafia takes over the cops. In the UK, it’s the norm. Regulation of chaps by chaps has never worked, and certainly doesn’t in an era of multinationals and huge financial institutions. Neoliberalism has given elites an insatiable lust for wealth by almost any means, which produces a drive to loot companies and pick people’s pockets for the self enrichment of few.

Britain has become a Taxhaven-on-Thames, with the City of London welcoming funny money from drug dealers, oligarchs, fiddlers and all those fleeing tighter regulation elsewhere. Britannia no longer rules the waves but it will waive the rules, provide money laundering and expensive London properties and a soft touch regulatory system. Those able to bend the rules for private gain are considered to be entrepreneurs.

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Mafia Expert: ‘Britain is Most Corrupt Country in the World’

Peter Yeung reports for The Independent:

roberto-saviano.jpgBritain is the most corrupt country in the world, according to journalist Roberto Saviano, who spent more than a decade exposing the criminal dealings of the Italian Mafia.

Mr Saviano, who wrote the best-selling exposés Gomorrah and ZeroZeroZero, made the comments at the Hay Literary Festival. The 36-year-old has been living under police protection since publishing revelations about members of the Camorra, a powerful Neapolitan branch of the mafia, in 2006.

He told an audience at Hay-on-Wye: “If I asked you what is the most corrupt place on Earth you might tell me well it’s Afghanistan, maybe Greece, Nigeria, the South of Italy and I will tell you it’s the UK.

“It’s not the bureaucracy, it’s not the police, it’s not the politics but what is corrupt is the financial capital. 90 per cent of the owners of capital in London have their headquarters offshore.

“Jersey and the Cayman’s are the access gates to criminal capital in Europe and the UK is the country that allows it. That is why it is important why it is so crucial for me to be here today and to talk to you because I want to tell you , this is about you, this is about your life, this is about your government.”

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The Great Swiss Bank Heist

Patrick Radden Keefe reports for The New Yorker:

Hervé Falciani, who took client data from H.S.B.C., was indicted in Switzerland, jailed in Spain, and celebrated in France.A few days before Christmas in 2008, Hervé Falciani was in a meeting at his office, in Geneva, when a team of police officers arrived to arrest him. Falciani, who was thirty-six, worked for H.S.B.C., then the largest bank in the world. He was on the staff of the company’s private Swiss bank, which serves clients who are wealthy enough to afford the minimum deposit—half a million dollars—required to open an account. Falciani had been at H.S.B.C. for eight years, initially in Monaco and then in Geneva. He was a computer technician who helped supervise security systems for the handling of client data. He had grown up in Monaco, where as a young man he had worked as a croupier at the Casino de Monte-Carlo, and developed an excellent poker face. As the Swiss police escorted him from the building, he insisted that he had done nothing wrong.

Officers questioned Falciani at a nearby station. They were investigating a data theft from the bank. Since 1713, when the Great Council of Geneva banned banks from revealing the private information of their customers, Switzerland had thrived on its reputation as a stronghold of financial secrecy. International élites could place their fortunes beyond the reach of tax authorities in their own countries. For Swiss wealth managers, who oversaw more than two trillion dollars in international deposits, the promise to maintain financial privacy was akin to a religious vow of silence. Switzerland is the home of the numbered account: customers often specify that they prefer not to receive statements, in order to avoid a paper trail. In light of these safeguards, the notion of a breach at H.S.B.C. was shocking.

Police officials told Falciani that someone calling himself Ruben al-Chidiak had stolen client data from the bank. They weren’t sure how much information had been taken or how the theft had been engineered. But they suspected that Chidiak was a pseudonym, and that the real culprit was Falciani.

Falciani told the police that his job was to protect data: How could they accuse him of compromising such information? As darkness fell, he asked to go home. His wife, Simona, would be worried about him. The investigators released him, but instructed him to return for further questioning the next morning.

Falciani walked through streets strung with Christmas lights to his apartment, in a dingy building on the Rue des Mouettes. He and Simona packed a few bags, bundled their three-year-old daughter, Kim, against the cold, and prepared to flee the country. Despite his protests, Falciani had stolen the data.

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$12 Trillion Looted from Developing Countries and Hidden Offshore: Interview James Henry

Sharmini Peries talks to economist James Henry of the Tax Justice Network who says authoritarian regimes account for over $11 trillion of “missing” offshore financial wealth from emerging economies. (The Real News)

Panama Papers: Secret Offshore World Feeds Global Inequality

Colm Keena reports for the Irish Times:

Mossack Fonseca’s offices in Panama City: tax authorities around the globe are anxious to get their hands on the Panama Papers data. Photograph: Carlos Jasso/Reuters[…] The lengthy statement issued on Friday by the anonymous source behind the massive Panama Papers leak, fits snugly into this narrative of a system that is not working and is showing signs of instability.

“Income inequality is one of the defining issues of our time,” he, or she, said. Despite all the debate and analysis, the system appears helpless to stop its steady growth. The leak suggests an answer to why this is so, the source said: “Massive, pervasive corruption.”

It’s a leak that exceeds in size that of Wikileaks, Luxleaks, and Swissleaks combined. It contains four decades of the files of the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm, one of the world’s largest suppliers of offshore services. The data was leaked to Suddeutsche Zeitung, which in turn shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), in Washington DC, which in turn organised the Panama Papers project involving media groups around the globe, including The Irish Times. Since the publication of the Panama Papers stories in early April, according to the source, the prevailing media narrative has focused on the scandal of what is legal and allowed. What is allowed, the source said, is indeed scandalous and must be changed.

One of the key aspects of this legal activity is the use of companies in offshore jurisdictions so that the beneficial ownership of assets is not publicly available information. Even with access to the Mossack files, it is often not possible to discover who owns the companies that the correspondence in the files is discussing. There is now an international clamour to end the process whereby ownership can be hidden in such ways. The offshore entities involved are frequently in British Overseas Territories such as the British Virgin Islands or the Bahamas, but they can also be in places such as Nevada or the Cook Islands. The “overseas” business is a growing one.

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Tax Havens Serve ‘No Economic Purpose’, Say World’s Leading Economists

The Telegraph reports:

Tax havens such as Panama “serve no useful economic purpose”, according to a coalition of more than 300 of the world’s most senior economists.

Leading experts from 30 countries have written to world leaders warning that there is no economic justification for allowing tax havens to exist.

They have also urged the UK government in particular to do more to lift the veil on offshore secrecy due to its influence.

In the letter, they argue the UK is uniquely placed to lead the fight against tax havens because it has sovereignty over around a third of the world’s tax havens through its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.

More than half of the companies set up by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm in the Panama Papers leak, were incorporated in British Overseas Territories such as the British Virgin Islands.

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Panama Papers Source ‘John Doe’ Sends Manifesto to Explain Data Release Actions

Jane McIntosh reports for DW:

The German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung published on its website a manifesto written by the anonymous source of the “Panama Papers,” the 11.5 million files on offshore tax havens from the law firm Mossack Fonseca released last month.

The source denied being a spy: “For the record, I do not work for any government or intelligence agency, directly or as a contractor, and I never have. My viewpoint is entirely my own.”

“John Doe” had harsh words for what he or she called “massive, pervasive corruption” at the heart of income inequality: “one of the defining issues of our time.”

In the 1,800 word statement, Doe said the “sudden acceleration” of income inequality affects everyone around the world, with politicians academics and activists “alike helpless to stop its steady growth.”

Doe accused law firms, and not just the Panama firm at the heart of the revelations, of using their influence to “write and bend laws worldwide to favor the interests of criminals over a period of decades.

“Mossack Fonseca did not work in a vacuum – despite repeated fines and documented regulatory violations, it found allies and clients at major law firms in virtually every nation,” wrote the leaker, whose name and gender have not been made public.

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Panama Papers Affair Set to Widen as Database Goes Online

BBC News reports:

The Panama Papers affair has widened, with a huge database of documents relating to more than 200,000 offshore accounts posted online.

The database became accessible from 18:00 GMT at offshoreleaks.icij.org.

The Panama Papers have shown how some wealthy people use offshore firms to evade tax and avoid sanctions.

The papers belonged to Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca and were leaked by a source simply known as “John Doe”. The company denies any wrongdoing.

Last week it issued a “cease and desist ” order to prevent the database being made public but the organisation that has the documents, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), appears to be going ahead.

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U.S. Corporations Have $1.4tn Hidden In Tax Havens, Says Oxfam Report

Rob Davies reports for The Guardian:

US corporate giants such as Apple, Walmart and General Electric have stashed $1.4tn (£980bn) in tax havens, despite receiving trillions of dollars in taxpayer support, according to a report by anti-poverty charity Oxfam.

The sum, larger than the economic output of Russia, South Korea and Spain, is held in an “opaque and secretive network” of 1,608 subsidiaries based offshore, said Oxfam.

The charity’s analysis of the financial affairs of the 50 biggest US corporations comes amid intense scrutiny of tax havens following the leak of the Panama Papers.

And the charity said its report, entitled Broken at the Top was a further illustration of “massive systematic abuse” of the global tax system.

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HSBC Risks Losing U.S. Banking Licence As Pressure Mounts Over Panama Papers Probe

James Burton reports for This Is Money:

Threat: HSBC could lose its US banking licence if American authorities decide to investigate it over the Panama Papers tax leaksHSBC risks losing its US banking licence if US authorities decide to investigate and find it has acted improperly over the Panama Papers tax leaks, experts warned.

It will pile pressure on British regulators to act robustly on any evidence of money-laundering in the documents, which show the bank and affiliates used law firm Mossack Fonseca to set up 2,300 shell companies for clients.

And it comes as French police raided the headquarters of Societe Generale bank over its links to Panama.

Prime Minister David Cameron has created a task force to examine the links between Panama and the UK financial system.

But Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Conservative member of the Treasury Select Committee, said ultra-tough US regulators would step in if Britain failed to respond strongly.

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How a U.S. President and JP Morgan Made Panama and Turned It Into a Tax Haven

Ed Vulliamy reports for The Guardian:

This goes back a long way. The Panamanian state was originally created to function on behalf of the rich and self-seeking of this world – or rather their antecedents in America – when the 20th century was barely born.

Panama was created by the United States for purely selfish commercial reasons, right on that historical hinge between the imminent demise of Britain as the great global empire, and the rise of the new American imperium.

The writer Ken Silverstein put it with estimable simplicity in an article for Vice magazine two years ago: “In 1903, the administration of Theodore Roosevelt created the country after bullying Colombia into handing over what was then the province of Panama. Roosevelt acted at the behest of various banking groups, among them JP Morgan & Co, which was appointed as the country’s ‘fiscal agent’ in charge of managing $10m in aid that the US had rushed down to the new nation.”

The reason, of course, was to gain access to, and control of, the canal across the Panamanian isthmus that would open in 1914 to connect the world’s two great oceans, and the commerce that sailed them.

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The 1% Hide Their Money Offshore, Then Use It To Corrupt Our Democracy

Aditya Chakrabortty writes for The Guardian:

[…] At root, the Panama Papers are not about tax. They’re not even about money. What the Panama Papers really depict is the corruption of our democracy.

Following on from LuxLeaks, the Panama Papers confirm that the super-rich have effectively exited the economic system the rest of us have to live in. Thirty years of runaway incomes for those at the top, and the full armoury of expensive financial sophistication, mean they no longer play by the same rules the rest of us have to follow. Tax havens are simply one reflection of that reality. Discussion of offshore centres can get bogged down in technicalities, but the best definition I’ve found comes from expert Nicholas Shaxson who sums them up as: “You take your money elsewhere, to another country, in order to escape the rules and laws of the society in which you operate.” In so doing, you rob your own society of cash for hospitals, schools, roads…

But those who exited our societies are now also exercising their voice to set the rules by which the rest of us live. The 1% are buying political influence as never before. Think of the billionaire Koch brothers, whose fortunes will shape this year’s US presidential elections. In Britain, remember the hedge fund and private equity barons, who in 2010 contributed half of all the Conservative party’s election funds – and so effectively bought the Tories their first taste of government in 18 years.

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Corruption Revealed in the Panama Papers Opened Door to ISIS and al-Qaeda

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

[…] Three years ago I was in Baghdad after it had rained heavily, driving for miles through streets that had disappeared under grey-coloured flood water combined with raw sewage. Later I asked Shirouk Abayachi, an advisor to the Ministry of Water Resources, why this was happening and she said that “since 2003, $7bn has been spent to build a new sewage system for Baghdad, but either the sewers weren’t built or they were built very badly”. She concluded that “corruption is the key to all this”.

Anybody discussing the Panama Papers and the practices of the law firm Mossack Fonseca should think about the ultimate destination of the $7bn not spent on the Baghdad drainage system. There will be many go-betweens and middle men protecting anyone who profited from this huge sum, but the suspicion must be that a proportion of it will have ended up in offshore financial centres where money is hidden and can be turned into legally held assets.

There is no obvious link between the revelations in the Panama Papers, the rise of Islamic State and the wars tearing apart at least nine countries in the Middle East and North Africa. But these three developments are intimately connected as ruling elites, who syphon off wealth into tax havens and foreign property, lose political credibility. No ordinary Afghans, Iraqis and Syrians will fight and die for rulers they detest as swindlers. Crucial to the rise of Isis, al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan is not their own strength and popularity, but the weakness and unpopularity of the governments to which they are opposed.

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Americans Named in Panama Papers Leak: Interview with Tim Johnson

Jessica Desvariuex talks to Tim Johnson of McClatchy Newspapers who refutes the accusation that the ICIJ has been targeting foreign adversaries of the United States in their reporting and examines how middlemen help funnel wealth offshore. (The Real News)

Iceland’s Pirate Party Gains Popularity After Prime Minister Walks the Plank over “Panama Papers”: Interview with Birgitta Jónsdóttir

Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman talk to Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic Parliament and an unofficial leader of the Pirate Party, which has seen a surge of support following the publication of the Panama Papers. Polls show it is now the country’s most popular party with 43 percent support. (Democracy Now!)

Global Tax Haven Network Means Americans Can Hide Wealth At Home: Interview with James Henry

Jessica Desvarieux talks to investigative journalist, economist and attorney James Henry, who describes the network of international banks, law firms, accountants, and trust companies that allow wealth to be hidden in tax havens like the U.S. state of Delaware. (The Real News)

Wikileaks Accuses Panama Papers’ Leaker Of Being “Soros-Funded, Soft-Power Tax Dodge”

Tyler Durden reports for Zero Hedge:

Earlier today, for the first time we got a glimpse into some of the American names allegedly contained in the “Panama Papers”, largest ever leak. “Some”, not all, and “allegedly” because as we said yesterday, “one can’t help but wonder: why not do a Wikileaks type data dump, one which reveals if not all the 2.6 terabytes of data due to security concerns, then at least the identities of these 441 US-based clients. After all, with the rest of the world has already been extensively shamed, it’s only fair to open US books as well.”

The exact same question appeared in an interview conducted between Wired magazine and the director of the organization that released the Panama Papers, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, or ICIJ, Gerard Ryle.

This is what Ryle said:

Ryle says that the media organizations have no plans to release the full dataset, WikiLeaks-style, which he argues would expose the sensitive information of innocent private individuals along with the public figures on which the group’s reporting has focused. “We’re not WikiLeaks. We’re trying to show that journalism can be done responsibly,” Ryle says. He says he advised the reporters from all the participating media outlets to “go crazy, but tell us what’s in the public interest for your country.”

Question aside about who it is that gets to decide which “innocent private individuals” are to be left alone, Wikileaks clearly did not like being characterized as conducting “irresponsible” journalism – and to the contrary, many in the public arena have called for another massive, distributed effort to get to the bottom of a 2.4TB treasure trove of data which a handful of journalists will simply be unable to dig through – and moments ago, on Twitter, accused the ICIJ of being a “Washington DC based Ford, Soros funded soft-power tax-dodge” which “has a WikiLeaks problem.”

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Panama Papers’ Publishers Don’t Need to Sell Out WikiLeaks

Adam Johnson writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Chelsea Manning, Julian AssangeWhen it’s all said and done, there’s no doubt that the hundreds of stories exposing the intricate web of tax avoidance and laundering, also known as the Panama Papers, will be an important blockbuster feat of journalism. The sheer size of the leak (11.5 million documents) and scope of the project led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (which brought together over 100 news outlets) is as staggering as it is impressive. The implications—the prime minister of Iceland has resigned, and dozens of investigations are allegedly underway around the world—will be felt for years.

Why then, in this moment of well-earned glory, would the primary party responsible for this act of journalism go out of its way to take a swipe at WikiLeaks, and, by extension, a prisoner of conscience?

ICIJ director Gerald Ryle was quoted in Wired (4/4/16):

Ryle says that the media organizations have no plans to release the full dataset, WikiLeaks-style, which he argues would expose the sensitive information of innocent private individuals along with the public figures on which the group’s reporting has focused. “We’re not WikiLeaks. We’re trying to show that journalism can be done responsibly,” Ryle says. He says he advised the reporters from all the participating media outlets to “go crazy, but tell us what’s in the public interest for your country.”

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Panama Papers Reveal Offshore Secrets of China’s Red Nobility

Juliette Garside and David Pegg report for The Guardian:

The eight members of China’s Communist party elite whose family members used offshore companies are revealed in the Panama Papers.

The documents show the granddaughter of a powerful Chinese leader became the sole shareholder in two British Virgin Islands companies while still a teenager. Jasmine Li had just begun studying at Stanford University in the US when the companies were registered in her name in December 2010. Her grandfather Jia Qinglin was at that time the fourth-ranked politician in China.

Other prominent figures who have taken advantage of offshore companies include the brother-in-law of the president, Xi Jinping, and the son-in-law of Zhang Gaoli, another member of China’s top political body, the politburo standing committee.

They are part of the “red nobility”, whose influence extends well beyond politics. Others include the daughter of Li Peng, who oversaw the brutal retaliation against Tiananmen Square protestors; and Gu Kailai, wife of Bo Xilai, the ex-politburo member jailed for life for corruption and power abuses.

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Forget Panama: It’s Easier to Hide Your Money in the US Than Almost Anywhere

Jana Kasperkevic reports for The Guardian:

One of the surprises about the Panama Papers – the largest leak from an offshore tax adviser in history – is how few Americans have so far been exposed. The reason? It may be because creating a shell company in the US is easier than obtaining a library card.

About 200 people with US addresses have so far been revealed as clients of Mossack Fonseca, the firm at the center of the Panama Papers leak. Compared with countries such as China, Switzerland, Russia and the United Kingdom, the number is small.

The anomaly may be because it’s so easy to create a vehicle to hide your money and your identity in the US that there’s no need to mess with Panama, according to Shruti Shah, vice-president of programs and operations at Transparency International, an anti-corruption organization.

“You don’t really have to go to Panama or other tax havens. They are not the only ones making it possible for corrupt officials and other criminals to launder their money. You can do it in every state in the US,” explained Shah.

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The Panama Papers Expose World Leaders in Massive Tax Evasion Scheme: Interview with Frederik Obermaier and Michael Hudson

Amy Goodman speaks to Frederik Obermaier, co-author of the Panama Papers story. He is an investigative reporter at Germany’s leading newspaper, the Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung, and co-author of the book Panama Papers: The Story of a Worldwide Revelation. just released today in Germany. She also speaks with Michael Hudson, senior editor at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which published the Panama Papers. (Democracy Now!)

Panama Papers: David Cameron’s Father Was Mossack Fonseca Client

BBC News reports:

Ian Cameron with his wife Mary 2010David Cameron has called for greater transparency in tax havens and a clampdown on aggressive tax avoidance and evasion. But documents leaked from one of the world’s biggest offshore specialists, Mossack Fonseca, reveal that his late father used one of the most secretive tools of the offshore trade after he helped set up a fund for investors.

When Ian Cameron wanted to attend a board meeting of Blairmore Holdings, he had to fly to either Switzerland or the Bahamas.

Blairmore, which appears to have been named after the Cameron family’s ancestral estate in Aberdeenshire, held its meetings offshore to ensure the investment fund wouldn’t have to pay any UK income tax or corporation tax on its profits.

If the meetings had been held in London, then it may have been considered resident in the UK and taxed as a UK company.

The leaked documents show that the prime minister’s father, who died in 2010, was one of five UK directors who flew to board meetings overseas.

There were also three directors in Switzerland and three in the Bahamas to help ensure the fund would not have to pay UK tax.

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The Tycoons and World Leaders Who Built Secret UK Property Empires

David Pegg, Helena Bengtsson and Holly Watt report for The Guardian:

The president of the United Arab Emirates has secretly built one of the single biggest offshore property empires in Britain, the Panama Papers reveal.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan owns dozens of central London properties worth more than £1.2bn through offshore companies supplied by Mossack Fonseca.

His property portfolio runs from the BHS building on Oxford Street to the designer outlets of Bruton Street and Mayfair’s Berkeley Square estate, where his tenants include Hermès, Stella McCartney and Annabel’s nightclub.

World leaders, business people and celebrities are among those whose anonymous ownership of London property has been exposed by the massive leak of the Panama law firm’s data on offshore companies.

The prime minister of Pakistan, Iraq’s former interim prime minister and the president of the Nigerian senate are among those whose links to London property are detailed by the files.

More than £170bn of UK property is now held overseas. Much of that is in London, where unprecedented house price inflation has transformed homes into highly profitable investments for asset speculators. Nearly one in 10 of the 31,000 tax haven companies that own British property are linked to Mossack Fonseca.

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Panama Papers: Obama, Clinton Pushed Trade Deal Amid Warnings It Would Make Money Laundering, Tax Evasion Worse

Clark Mindock and David Sirota report for the International Business Times:

RTR3AZOHYears before more than a hundred media outlets around the world released stories Sunday exposing a massive network of global tax evasion detailed in the so-called Panama Papers, U.S. President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed for a Bush administration-negotiated free trade agreement that watchdogs warned would only make the situation worse.

Soon after taking office in 2009, Obama and his secretary of state — who is currently the Democratic presidential front-runner — began pushing for the passage of stalled free trade agreements (FTAs) with Panama, Colombia and South Korea that opponents said would make it more difficult to crack down on Panama’s very low income tax rate, banking secrecy laws and history of noncooperation with foreign partners.

Even while Obama championed his commitment to raise taxes on the wealthy, he pursued and eventually signed the Panama agreement in 2011. Upon Congress ratifying the pact, Clinton issued a statement lauding the agreement, saying it and other deals with Colombia and South Korea “will make it easier for American companies to sell their products.” She added: “The Obama administration is constantly working to deepen our economic engagement throughout the world, and these agreements are an example of that commitment.”

Critics, however, said the pact would make it easier for rich Americans and corporations to set up offshore corporations and bank accounts and avoid paying many taxes altogether.

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