Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Marching In 1st of May: The Global Battle for Corporate Transparency

The strength and stability of democracy has become a subject of intense debate in the United States and around the world. But how do Americans feel about their own democracy? As part of a year-long effort to study “Facts, Trust and Democracy” Pew Research Center has conducted a major survey of public views of the U.S. political system and American democracy. The survey finds that while Americans are in broad agreement on important ideals relating to democracy in the U.S., they think the nation is falling short in realizing many of these ideals. Here are some of the survey’s other major findings..”

OK Facebook posts $10m loss on ATO bill; Google Aussie sales top $3bn

Reliance on Counsel "Defense" and Jury Instructions  
I just read an interesting article -- Stephen A. Saltzburg, Evidence Supporting Advice of Counsel Defense (ABA Criminal Justice Spring 2018) [no link available].  Saltzburg. here, is a prominent law professor and expert on rules of evidence in criminal trials; he makes his publications available on his publications page here, but this article does not appear yet.

Pretrial Order Excluding Government Evidence in Criminal Tax Case for Offshore Accounts 

Michael Little, British/US Lawyer, Convicted for Offshore Account Enabler and Personal Income Tax Charges 

Second Circuit Holds Onerous § 6707 Penalty -- $61 Million -- Based on BullShit Tax Shelter Subject to Flora Full Payment Rule  
In Larson v. United States, ___ F.3d ___, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 10418 (2d Cir. 2018), here, the Second Circuit held that, in order to pursue the refund suit for the § 6707 penalty, Larson, a convicted tax shelter promoter, had to prepay the $67,661,349 penalty assessed.  Needless to say, the tax shelter was of the BullShit genre.  I had written on this litigation at the trial level.  SD NY District Court Rejects Partial Payment § 6707 Penalty Refund Suit (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 1/2/17; 1/9/17), here.

Veils of secrecy: enhancing tax and ownership transparency in development projects

Veils of secrecy: enhancing tax and ownership transparency in development projectsWe're sharing here new research from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights which evaluates the role played by a member of the World Bank Group, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in development projects. The full title of their research is Veils of secrecy: evaluating the IFC's role … [Read more...]

AFP revives investigation system replacement


The United States Holocaust Museum – Americans and the Holocaust [this presentation includes text, video/audio and photographs] – “Holocaust history raises important questions about what Europeans could have done to stop the rise of Nazism in Germany and its assault on Europe’s Jews.

BuzzFeed: “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ordered a review of the US Attorneys’ Manual, which features high-level policy statements as well as practical guidance to prosecutors on how to do their jobs. 


New report: The Global Battle for Corporate Transparency

On 25 May 2018, the European Council will meet in Brussels and will likely consider new rules on corporate transparency, the introduction of public country by country reporting. The meeting will take place 40 years to the day since the OECD sabotaged attempts to introduce similar transparency measures via the United Nations.
The long and arduous road towards country by country reporting is the subject of a new report published today by Markus Meinzer and Christoph Trautvetter with the Tax Justice Network. To download the full report, click here.
The report details how greater corporate transparency, and specifically rules to compel multinational companies to break down their consolidated accounts to a company specific, or regional, basis have been blocked by the business lobby for a period of over forty years. This is despite widespread support for the measure from the public and many governments.
One of the most promising initiatives came from the UN Commission on Transnational Corporations which was founded in 1975. The commission convened a group of experts to come forward with proposals to increase the transparency of multinational corporations. The group proposed compelling companies to publish accounts for each company the multinational operated and details of transactions made between them

Blockchain – Where it came from, what it does, and how you make one by MIT Technology Review Editors. April 23, 2018.
  • “What is it? A public, permanent, append-only distributed ledger.
  • What’s that? A mathematical structure for storing data in a way that is nearly impossible to fake. It can be used for all kinds of valuable data.
  • Where did it come from? “I’ve been working on a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party.” These are the words of Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious creator of Bitcoin, in a message sent to a cryptography-focused mailing list in October 2008. Included was a link to a nine-page white paper describing a technology that some are now convinced will disrupt the financial system…”
Impact from - Pilatus, the Maltese bank currently being investigated for money laundering, has closed its London office https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0ahUKEwiEkNvExtXaAhWICsAKHa_AByEQFggnMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.independent.com.mt%2Ffile.aspx%3Ff%3D166597&usg=AOvVaw3Po0M1vq0jxONhOpo7QGDX 

In the memos, the Ministry of Finance warned that the abolition of dividend tax increases the risk of the Netherlands becoming a tax evasion country. International companies could use the Netherlands to reduce their tax burden. "That is not in line with the Dutch commitment to combating tax evasion and bad for the image of the Netherlands", the Ministry wrote, according to the newspaper. The Finance Ministry advised rather reducing corporation tax. And said that abolishing the dividend tax will "mainly serve the foreign state treasury" because international companies can often settle their tax n their own country. All in all, this leads to a higher tax burden for domestic tax payers

The Netherlands is a big riser in the 2018 Financial Secrecy Index, driven by an increase in its secrecy score https://www.financialsecrecyindex.com/PDF/Netherlands.pdf  https://www.financialsecrecyindex.com/introduction/fsi-2018-results  @TaxJusticeNL

2015-16 Tax Stats released

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has released the annual Taxation Statistics report for the 2015-16 financial year. The report presents an overview of 16 million 2016 income tax returns for 13.5 million individuals, 940,000 companies, as well as superannuation funds, partnerships, and trusts.

Tax Stats released

 Detainers, Detention and Deportation: From Presence to PersonhoodKen Strutin’s latest guide on criminal law is an expansive, extensively documented, expert work that provides researchers, scholars, lawyers, judges, advocates for criminal justice, librarians, students, and Americans, a timely and essential guide to seminal issues that are currently the subject of widespread debate – in Congress, in states and local communities across the country – and litigation – in America’s courts, the court of public opinion, and on social media. 

Say Goodbye To The Information Age: It’s All About Reputation Now via Fast Company – In a world of fake news, the only antidote is our ability to judge the reputation of the people supplying us with information: “There is an underappreciated paradox of knowledge that plays a pivotal role in our advanced hyper-connected liberal democracies: the greater the amount of information that circulates, the more we rely on so-called reputational devices to evaluate it. What makes this paradoxical is that the vastly increased access to information and knowledge we have today does not empower us or make us more cognitively autonomous. Rather, it renders us more dependent on other people’s judgments and evaluations of the information with which we are faced. We are experiencing a fundamental paradigm shift in our relationship to knowledge. From the “information age,” we are moving towards the “reputation age,” in which information will have value only if it is already filtered, evaluated, and commented upon by others. Seen in this light, reputation has become a central pillar of collective intelligence today. It is the gatekeeper to knowledge, and the keys to the gate are held by others. The way in which the authority of knowledge is now constructed makes us reliant on what are the inevitably biased judgments of other people, most of whom we do not know…” 

The pie chart: Why data visualization’s greatest villain will never die via Quartz – “The point of charts is to communicate data effectively. Or, at least, that is the point according to data-visualization experts. The truth about why people like and use charts is more complicated than that. For the regular person, it’s more about art than science. There is no better demonstration of this than the popularity of the pie chart. The pie chart has long been reviled by data-visualization experts. “The circle with sectors is not a desirable form of presentation,” wrote the engineer and visualization researcher William Brinton in his 1914 book Graphical Methods. Brinton believed pie charts were difficult to decipher and that it was nearly always better to use a bar chart to convey information. Over the following century, nearly every other serious chart maker came to the same conclusion. Experimental evidence also backed them up. In a paper published in 1984 (paywall), statisticians William Cleveland and Robert McGill showed that people are much more likely to accurately assess information when it’s put in a bar chart than in a pie chart. This is because people tend to underestimate the size of acute angles (<90 and="" obtuse="" of="" ones="" overestimate="" size="" the="">90°)…” 

<90 and="" obtuse="" of="" ones="" overestimate="" size="" the="">What the public sector can learn from those quitting Facebook
Organisations want their investment in social media to pay off, especially in the public sector where any costs are sensitive. Should government ditch social media if its channel metrics are low?

Exposing 145m Equifax customer deets: $240m. Legal fees: $28.9m. Insurance: Priceless

Data breach cost biz $70m this quarter alone

Breach of Data


CyberScoop April 26, 2018

U.S. regulators are cracking down on the cybersecurity risks to the electric grid posed by everyday electronics like laptops and flash drives. A ruling issued last week by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requires utilities to implement security controls on portable devices that interact with “low-impact” systems, or ones that utilities deem less critical. FERC also ordered the revision of power reliability standards “to mitigate the risk of malicious code” stemming from the devices. The move comes as the Department of Homeland Security has warned that Russian government hackers have their sights on U.S. energy firms, and as Congress readies legislation to secure the grid. Observers say FERC’s tightening of security controls further down the grid could shake up how large portions of the sector approach cybersecurity

Internet of Things Security is a Marathon Not a Sprint, says DHS Cyber Expert

Wired - April 23, 2018

The City of Atlanta spent more than $2.6 million on emergency efforts to respond to a ransomware attack that destabilized municipal operations last month. Attackers, who infected the city's systems with the pernicious SamSam malware, asked for a ransom of roughly $50,000 worth of bitcoin. (The exact value has fluctuated due to bitcoin's volatility.) Atlanta officials haven't said whether they paid the ransom, or even tried, but it seems that they may not have even had the chance; the attackers quickly took the payment portal offline, and left the city to fend for itself. So far, the recovery has been far more costly than the initial demand. The Atlanta Department of Procurement lists eight emergency contracts initiated between Match 22 and April 2 with a total value of $2,667,328. The bulk of the expenditures relate to incident response and digital forensics, extra staffing, and Microsoft Cloud infrastructure expertise, presumably all related to clawing back the systems that the hackers had frozen. The city also spent $50,000 on crisis communications services from the firm Edelman, and $600,000 on incident response consulting from Ernst & Young.