Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rudolf Elmer: They want to crucify me, as an example to other bankers

Which are the most corrupt cities in the world?

Elite travellers usually with names like IMRICH skip the airport security line – for a price Bloomberg

In United States v. Biyiklioglu, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 10847, at *5 (5th Cir. June 15, 2016), unpublished, per curiam, here, Biyiklioglu appealed "his conviction and sentence for wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, tax evasion, and money laundering."  In the underlying scheme, Biyiklioglu "transferred money online among his bank accounts and numerous fraudulent PayPal accounts and then disputed certain transactions so as to cause double payments to his bank accounts and corresponding losses to PayPal."  The scheme is more complex, but that is a good summary for purposes of this blog entry.  On appeal, he raised several arguments.  I address only some of the arguments and the Court's resolution.
Fifth Circuit Opinion Reversing Tax Evasion Conviction Because Evasive Acts Did Not Have Tax Evasion as Goal And Affirming on Wire Fraud

For tax evaders stunned by the leak of the "Panama Papers" maintained by the international law firm Mossack Fonseca, bitcoin could be the next big thing.
Even as governments around the world have begun cooperating to nab suspected tax cheats, virtual bitcoin wallets filled with the cryptocurrency possess the potential to become what University of California-Irvine law professor Omri Marian has dubbed “super tax havens.”
 Bitcoin Might Make Tax Havens Obsolete 

Financial crime is on the rise in Australia, with the country's senior money-laundering officials saying they've witnessed a dramatic increase in fraudulent transactions. Deputy chief executive of the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, Gavin McCairns, said the volume of data it received every day was growing "exponentially".
Financial crime 'on the rise': AUSTRAC

Rudolf Elmer, the Swiss whistleblower who has been pursued by Swiss courts for a decade and served over half a year in prison while accused of (according to Switzerland’s peculiar courts) violating the Swiss banking secrecy law, now faces two more court trials: one, on June 23rd, as part of the ongoing case for which he has already been in prison; and one on June 24th, relating to the symbolic handover of a data file to Julian Assange at the Frontline Club in London.
Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer: ‘they want to crucify me, as an example to other bankers’

Sydney stockbroker Oliver Curtis has been jailed for two years after being found guilty of conspiring to commit insider trading. In the New South Wales Supreme Court, Justice Lucy McCallum said a prison sentence would provide "real bite" as a deterrent to white-collar crimes. Sydney stockbroker Oliver Curtis jailed for insider trading
Hedge Fund Manager Charged With Insider Trading Is Found Dead New York Times

North Carolina Couple Pleads Guilty to $12 Million in IRS Fraud: Walda Lorena Luna now faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to using stolen data from 300 individuals to collect 2,760 federal tax refund checks totaling $12,104,825 over four years. (Carolina Journal)


TaxGrrrl, Philly Congressman Found Guilty On All Charges In Corruption Case. “The original investigation centered on Fattah Sr.’s bid for Mayor of Philadelphia in 2007. To finance that campaign, Fattah allegedly borrowed $1 million, which was disguised as a loan to a consulting company in order to avoid reporting requirements.”

Ex-banker pleads guilty to helping Americans evade taxes  

Former Swiss Banker Pleads Guilty to Conspiring with U.S. Taxpayers and Other Swiss Bankers to Defraud the United States
Former ATO intelligence analyst Ron Shamir is now pitted in a David and Goliath legal struggle with his former public service bosses who are bringing the full might of the Commonwealth government to bear as they try to silence him Tax Offices Covert Operations Against Taxpayers Exposed

The former tax official who exposed alleged "covert operations" by the ATO is now living a "Kafka'-esque nightmare" and must be protected (a)gainst reprisal, says a key independent senator. Nick Xenophon says the case of former Taxation Office intelligence analyst Ron Shamir highlights the risks faced by anyone who exposes wrongdoing in public life ATO whistleblower Ron Shamir should be protected: Nick Xenophon

Robert Wood, Swiss Banker Pleads Guilty To U.S. Tax Evasion As IRS Hunts Offshore Accounts. Bank secrecy isn’t very secret anymore

Jack Townsend: The blog has been corrected as a result of new information:  UBS has indicated that the client consented to the disclosure of Singapore account information, thus mooting the summons enforcement issue.  Corrections are made in this blog entry where appropriate, and are specifically noted
Another Crack in Foreign Account Secrecy - UBS Delivers Singapore Affiliate Records Pursuant to IRS Summons

Serb tycoon jailed for five years for aiding tax evasion

Tax efficiency no longer primary driver for offshore investment

From a new Economic Journal article by Kim Oosterlinck:
During World War II, artworks significantly outperformed all alternative investments in Occupied France. With the surge in demand for portable and easy-to-hide (discreet) assets such as artworks and collectible stamps, prices boomed. This suggests that discreet assets may be viewed as crypto-currencies, demand for which varies depending on the environment and the need to hide value. Regarding art market valuation, this paper argues that while some economic actors derive significant utility from conspicuous consumption, others value the discretion offered by artworks. Motives for purchasing art may thus vary over time.
The pointer is from Kevin Lewis.  And via Samir Varma, here is a new piece on how the returns to fine art have been overestimated.

Wall Street Journal editorial, Treasury's Inversion Scythe (online title: The Obama-Lew Business Tax Raid: Treasury’s New Rules Give More Power to the IRS):
Is Treasury Secretary Jack Lew trying to impose a new tax burden on all businesses in the United States? Or is he merely unable to shoot at politically disfavored companies without hitting the rest of the economy? These questions arise because businesses across the U.S. are learning they’ll have to change how they manage their cash to satisfy Mr. Lew’s latest regulatory diktat.

Platinum Partners raided by federal agents amid dual investigations Reuters

Wall Street Journal, House Republicans Seek to Eliminate IRS Chief’s Paycheck:
Republicans have a new idea for attacking IRS Commissioner John Koskinen: Stop paying him.
Mr. Koskinen’s salary of about $165,000 a year would be cut to zero until the next president takes office Jan. 20, under an amendment the House of Representatives is considering this week. ...
The idea is to prevent Mr. Koskinen from coming to work, as federal law generally bars people from working for free, said Kyle Huwa, a spokesman for Mr. Buck. ...
[L]osing a few months of pay near the end of his career wouldn’t permanently damage Mr. Koskinen. According to his most recent financial disclosure, he is a multimillionaire.

Man who hid on Appalachian Trail sentenced for fraud in Ohio Reuters

The US taxes both corporations and shareholders on corporate profits. In principle, the U.S. could rely on only one of these taxes, as many commentators have suggested. Although choosing to tax the corporation or its owners may seem like taking money from one pocket or the other, this Essay emphasizes a key difference: corporate and shareholder taxes prompt different tax planning. Relying on one or the other mitigates some distortions and leaks, while exacerbating others. As a result, choosing which tax to impose is like navigating between Scylla and Charybdis.

CCN.LA, UC Law Professor Sees Bitcoin Becoming a Tax Haven for the Gig Economy:
Bitcoin is especially attractive to workers in the gig economy who exchange skills for money. So far there is no effective enforcement method for tracking bitcoin.
Omri Marian, a law professor at the University of California Irvine, notes that even as governments have started to cooperate on nabbing tax cheats, bitcoin wallets could become “super tax havens.”

Hong Kong's Richest Man Calls for Higher Tax to Ease Wealth Gap

French cement firm LaFarge paid taxes to ISIS to protect its business in Syria

Corbyn: Future Labour government would back financial transaction tax

Corbyn: Clamp down on Crown 'tax havens'  

Finance Uncovered: new investigation into Rift Valley Railway

U.S. Investigates Credit Suisse Over Possible Client Tax Evasion at Israeli Unit

McDonald's Serves Up A Tax Whopper in Luxembourg

McDonald's Australia almost quadruples profit and halves tax bill  

Amazon UK reviews Chinese traders before VAT fraud clampdown

What might Brexit do for tax havens and tax justice?

Why McDonald's and Google are in trouble in Europe

 Apple's UK corporation tax bill totalled £12.9m in 2015  

Brexit tax hit spurs multinationals to look at moving HQ  

 Taxes set to be changed as a result of Brexit  

HMRC lets tech giants dodge tax  

Advisers jailed for £100m tax fraud  

 Tax Court Denies Amway Losses Due To Lack Of Profit Motive  

 The UK will now become a tax haven for the rich  

The ups and downs of Delaware's corporate tax revenue  

Fast action on tax havens needed now

Gladys Knight's Chicken and Waffle restaurants are raided

Why not just outlaw use of tax havens?

MEPs call for tax haven black list, patent box rules, CCCTB and more

The Anti Tax Avoidance Package – Questions and Answers (Updated)

Commission welcomes agreement reached by Member States on new rules to tackle tax avoidance

Jack Townsend, TIGTA Report on Improvement in Some Features of OVDP. “The report focuses on taxpayers who were denied access to OVDP or who, having entered, withdrew or opted out.”

EU agrees compromise deal to fight corporate tax dodging  

Platinum Partners raided by federal agents amid dual investigations Reuters