Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Financial and Political Landscapes: India, Estonia Identity Race

Lloyds says ‘Hello’ to facial recognition banking FT. I don’t think the Iron Bank of Braavos would go for this, given the skillset at the House of Black and White

Steve Ballmer and essential data for running the human race

"This breach is of particular concern as it occurs at a time when the NSW Government is increasing its digital interaction and service provision with the NSW community."
Service NSW notifies privacy commissioner of 2693 mis-sent photo cards

Share trader's multimillion-dollar win over ATO prompts reform cries

24/7 Wall St – “The U.S. economic system encourages cost-cutting at every stage of business. While taxes are a yearly expense for small businesses, working families, and individuals, large U.S. companies avoid billions in taxes each year on cash held in offshore bank accounts. The current level of global wealth inequality, which is widely expected to widen under reforms proposed by President Donald Trump and congressional leaders, is unprecedented. According to anti-poverty organization Oxfam America, just eight individuals possess more wealth than 3.6 billion people — half of humanity. The wealthiest 1% of people worldwide have more wealth than everyone else combined. Against this backdrop, tax avoidance is especially troubling. The 50 largest public U.S. companies currently have a combined $1.6 trillion stashed in accounts and assets overseas — according to new analysis by Oxfam. Apple is the leader, with $200.1 billion held in foreign bank accounts.

The Economist has two good pieces on India’s Aadhaar card. First, the bright side:
IT TAKES a little over 90 seconds. At the government-subsidised ration shop in Sargasan, a village in Gujarat, Chandana Prajapati places her thumb on a fingerprint scanner. A list of the staples she and her family are entitled to this month appears on the shopkeeper’s computer: 10kg of rice, 25kg of wheat, some cooking oil, salt and sugar. The 55-year-old housewife has no cash nor credit card, but no matter. By tapping in an identifying number and presenting her thumb one more time, Mrs Prajapati authorises a payment of 271 rupees ($4.20) straight from her bank account. It is technical wizardry worthy of Stockholm or New York; yet outside buffaloes graze, a pot of water is coming to the boil on a pile of firewood and children scamper between mud-brick houses.
Like most Indians, Mrs Prajapati would have struggled to identify herself to the authorities a few years ago, let alone to a faraway bank. But 99% of adults are now enrolled in Aadhaar, a scheme which has amassed the fingerprints and iris scans of over 1.1bn people since 2010. With her authorisation, any government body or private business can check whether her fingerprints or irises match those recorded against her unique 12-digit identifying number in its database. When it comes to identification, India has unexpectedly leapfrogged every country with the possible exception of Estonia, a tiddler with a penchant for innovation.
The Aadhaar system has cut corruption and cleaned the rolls of people with fake identities trying to scam fertilizer, food or some other subsidized good. But the government wants the
mark of the beastAadhaar system to be used for just about everything including paying taxes, getting school lunches, buying airline tickets or a cell phone and that makes some people worried:
In theory, the law on Aadhaar passed last year by Mr Modi’s government includes stringent protections against the sharing of information; its rules allowing exceptions on grounds of national security, although vaguely worded, appear well intended. Sweden has required all citizens to have a national ID number since 1947—the year of India’s birth—with little trouble. Most Swedes consider the scheme, which is linked to tax, school, medical and other records, an immense convenience.
But India is not a tidy Nordic kingdom. Mr Modi’s government, with its strident nationalism and occasional recklessness—such as last year’s abrupt voiding of most of the paper currency in circulation—does not always inspire confidence that it will respect citizens’ rights and legal niceties. By sneaking the linkage between Aadhaar and tax into a budget bill, it raises concerns about intent: will the government stalk tax evaders, or perhaps enemies of the state, using ostensibly “fire-walled” Aadhaar data? Many Indians will remember that, following sectarian riots in the past, ruling parties were accused of using voter rolls to target victims.

…for Aadhaar to fulfil its potential, Indians must trust that it will not be misused. Adopting coercive regulations, ignoring the Supreme Court’s qualms and dismissing critics peremptorily will achieve the opposite.

  • Leaked Records Show Shell's Complicity in Massive Oil Corruption Scandal
  • Oxfam Report: Rigged reform: US companies are dodging billions in taxes but proposed reforms will make things worse 
  • Swedish Elk-Hunt Bribery Case Widens to Handelsbanken Chairman  
  • Hong Kong regulator fines Coutts for breaching anti-money laundering rules       
  • Brazil corruption: Eight cabinet ministers named in Petrobras probe  
  • Similar cases before UK GAAR Panel to be 'pooled' under new guidance  
  • Neasden-based wine firm in '£40 million tax dodge'  
  • Revolving Doors: Ex-HMRC chief Lin Homer appointed to ICAS Council  
  • Australian beer drinker tax vs the world’s biggest gas companies
  • Tax Havens Can Be Surprisingly Close to Home  
  • Shell corruption probe: Top executives knew part of £1.3bn Nigerian oil deal would go to convicted money launderer  
  • Shell admits dealing with money launderer  
  • Even by the standards of tax-havens, Gibraltar is pretty sketchy  
  • The secret is out: US$2.7 billion of São Paulo property linked to offshore companies  
  • Read the Transparency International Report: São Paulo: Does corruption live next door? Shell companies and the real estate sector in the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere
  • A Bill In This US State Names 18 Caribbean Countries As Tax Havens  
  • Instead of taxes, make corporations give the government stock   
  • UK Tax Man Goes After Image Rights Tax Avoidance  
  • Labour would 'pour the disinfectant of sunlight' on large firms by forcing them to publish tax returns  
  • Big businesses would be forced to publish their tax returns under Labour  
  • Labour reveals plans to force big firms to publish tax returns to expose 'sweetheart deals'  
  • US House intel member heads to Russia's money laundering island Cyprus to investigate Trump collusion  
  • A Financial Toll Tax: Transform, Not Reform, The US Tax System  
  • Four more banks named in bond price-fixing complaint  
  • Sweden to target advisers in tax avoidance clampdown  
  • The Zara Report: What can we learn about public country by country reporting?  
  • Ireland in spotlight as US firms claimed to hold $1.6trn offshore  
  • Thousands of Protesters To Call for Trump's Tax Returns on Saturday  
  • Bernard Matthews seller 'lined own pockets' by rejecting pension offer 
  • Beware Private Equity at Work: Rutland Partners gains at expense of pensioners in Bernard Matthews selloff, says Work and Pension Committee