Monday, March 02, 2020

Finally: A Serious Attempt To Cut Down Money Laundering In Art?

"If you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it's not because they enjoy solitude. It's because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.” 
― Mickey Mouse

What new can be gleaned from the French Revolution’s central paradox: how so many citizens were slaughtered in the name of libertéégalité, fraternité Le Miserables  

People across the world have begun panic-buying supplies as the deadly coronavirus continues to spread rapidly and claim lives, including an Australian man who became the country’s first COVID-19 fatality.

I SEE A PLOT FOR A DARK COMEDY HERE, AS THE IDENTITY THIEF IS TRAPPED IN A LIFE NO ONE WANTS:Man Doesn’t Want Stolen Identity Back. “I almost feel bad for the identity thieves… all that work stealing bank account and social security information, for nothing. It’s basically the equivalent of Geraldo opening Al Capone’s vault, just to find it was empty.”

Nearly 850 landscape photographers from around the world submitted their best work to the 2019 International Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. The expert panel of judges, which includes last year’s winner, narrowed a field of 3,400 images to select the best portfolio and single photograph. In the end, it was Russian photographer Oleg Ershov who took home the top prize for his incredible range of landscape photography from England and Iceland.
Breathtaking Winners of the 2019 International Landscape Photographer of the Year Contest

Australia’s coronavirus pandemic plan: mass vaccinations and stadium quarantine Guardian

 Kathleen Delaney Thomas  (North Carolina) presents Taxing Nudges at Colorado today as part of its Faculty Colloquium Series:

Thomas (2019)Governments are increasingly turning to behavioral economics to inform policy design in areas like health care, the environment, and financial decision-making. Research shows that small behavioral interventions, referred to as “nudges,” often produce significant responses at a low cost. The theory behind nudges is that, rather than mandating certain behaviors or providing costly economic subsidies, modest initiatives may “nudge” individuals to choose desirable outcomes by appealing to their behavioral preferences. For example, automatically enrolling workers into savings plans as a default rather than requiring them to actively sign up has dramatically increased enrollment in such plans. Similarly, allowing individuals to earn “wellness points” from attendance at a gym, redeemable at various retail establishments, may improve exercise habits.

 Is the UAE a bastion of money laundering

Fortnite 2For months leading up to this tax season, a section of the IRS's website advised players of Fortnite, the popular online video game, that their use of in-game virtual currency could be subject to federal taxes.
The little-noticed provision, which dated back at least to October according to the cached version of an IRS webpage on, appeared to mark the first time the agency has ruled on video game currencies, including Fortnite's V-bucks, purchased with real dollars. By applying the same policy to in-game money that it enforces on bitcoin, ether and other cryptocurrencies, the IRS guide seemed poised to affect millions of gamers — or their parents.
But on Wednesday, the IRS scrubbed all mentions of the in-game currency from the webpage after questions from CNN and other outlets about the policy.

ANDREW PODGER. In defence of an apolitical, professional public service( The Mandarin 24.2.2020)

I cannot let Laurie Patton’s opinion piece go unchallenged. It is a recipe of despair in its dismissal of fundamental principles of responsible government.

ALEX MITCHELL: Ex-NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell quits for India

When Barry O’Farrell became NSW Liberal Party leader in 2017 his mission was to turn the Liberals into “the natural party of government”. … Continue reading 

HMM: Philip Haney: FBI to investigate death of DHS whistleblower, initially thought to be suicide.The suicide claim seemed a bit shady to me at the time.

Finally: A Serious Attempt To Cut Down Money Laundering In Art?

“There has long been concern over the ease with which suspect funds can be laundered through the buying and selling of art. Now, at last, we are seeing a concerted attempt to get to grips with the issue, which — even if welcomed by most — has sparked resentment and wariness. This almost unregulated sector doesn’t take easily or kindly to attempts to legislate it.” – Financial Times

Two Articles on Swiss Banks  

This is just a miscellaneous post on Swiss Banks to report two recent articles on two different topics.

Samuel Gerber, U.S. Tax Dispute: Swiss Banks in for More Fines? ( 2/19/20),here. The article reports on recent addenda by two Category 2 banks who reached NonProsecution Agreements (“NPAs”) under the DOJ Swiss Bank Program.  I recently reported on two incidents:  Union Bancaire Privée, UBP SA ("UBP") Enters an Addendum to its Swiss Bank Program Category 2 NPA (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 2/5/20), here; and Coutts & Co. Ltd. Enters an Addendum to its Swiss Bank Program Category 2 NPA (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 12/20/19), here.  The article speculates that there may be more to come, concluding that: “The Swiss banking industry doesn’t know how far the U.S. authorities intend to go but one observer noted that the proverbial lemon has been squeezed dry already.”  That’s their story and they are sticking to it.

Switzerland still a hot spot to hide money, but getting better (SWI 2/19/20),here. This article reports (excerpted from the start of the article)

Why were the Australians ahead of the world? For a very simple reason. They don’t trust the WHO. The information from multiple international sources is that the WHO is under intense pressure from the Chinese government, and succumbing to it.
The Australian Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, told the NSC that it was medically inexplicable that the WHO hadn’t already declared a global pandemic. It’s politics, in other words.
That’s why Australia had earlier forged ahead of the WHO in declaring the China travel ban, on February 1. It was, again, on the unanimous advice of the AHPPC.
The travel ban was decided immediately after the US made the same call. Beijing instantly lashed both the US and Australia on that occasion – the Chinese Communist Party’s official mouthpiece, People’s Daily, calling it “racist”.
But, of course, that decision now looks very wise, more so with each passing day.


“With the ongoing China travel ban, I’m very sympathetic about the impact on tourism and farmers, but I’m much less so with the universities,” he began. “Because they have been warned for years that they are over-reliant on the Chinese market, and for years they’ve reassured us that it was all fine, and that if anything happened they’d be able to withstand it. They rode the cycle up, now they can ride the cycle down.”
The universities receive $17 billion a year in federal cash already. Paterson said they should be given this opportunity to show they could indeed withstand the lost income. Addressing Scott Morrison, Paterson concluded: “We shouldn’t relax the travel ban, and there should be no financial bail-out for the universities.”

The FBI Is Investigating Massive Embezzlement of Border Patrol Union Funds ProPublica



When Isabel dos Santos was under intense scrutiny, she turned to one of the biggest secrecy havens in the world: the U.S. Our reporting reveals dos Santos and her husband, Sindika Dokolo, used Delaware companies to conceal their control of a $1.8 million Lisbon penthouse. Last week, the Tax Justice Network ranked the U.S. as the world’s second-most secretive jurisdiction, behind only the Cayman Islands, in its annual “financial secrecy index.
A nexus of ICIJ investigations: Appleby (remember them from Paradise Papers?), the tax haven Mauritius (hello Mauritius Leaks) and Luanda Leaks. Dos Santos and Dokolo wanted a brewery that could serve wealthy and working-class Angolans. They enlisted the help of some usual suspects – PWC in this case, and went shopping in Mauritius for the right tax rate. Tax law professor Rita de la Feria told us the case “showed a level of arrogance that consultancy companies had at that time in regard to tax avoidance.”


The latest from the Panama Papers criminal case in the United States. Harald Joachim von der Goltz pleaded guilty and told the court: “I’m profoundly sorry for my actions and for the harm I have caused not only to the United States but to the people I deceived.” U.S. prosecutors will recommend von der Goltz spend up to 15 years in prison.

Amy Wilson-Chapman
ICIJ’s community engagement editor

This Assange “Trial” Is A Self-Contradictory Kafkaesque Nightmare Caitlin Johnstone (Kevin W): “This is so fucked up. He is in a glass booth and cannot hear what is going on. The judge says that he can only talk through his lawyers. But then the judge says that he is forbidden to talk to his lawyers, even with notes. But also that he cannot sit with his lawyers as he is so dangerous he might kill someone.”

NYU Grad Tax Program Launches The Tax Maven Podcast

The Tax Maven:
Tax MavenThe first podcast from the Graduate Tax Program at NYU Law, the Tax Maven, introduces listeners to the people and the ideas that draw so many of us to work in tax. Tax scholars learned long ago what makes tax law both powerful and deeply human. The Tax Maven features conversations with professors from a range of disciplines, revealing tax law’s connection to prosperity, poverty, and history. Each episode will feature a guest—a Tax Maven—sharing the fruits of her scholarly work in a format that will make you think, laugh, and wonder, offering an answer to the perennial question: “Why tax law?”
Episode 1, Is More Open More Fair? (Kimberly Clausing (Reed College; moving to UCLA)):
What if there were one mechanism that could support workers and communities harmed as a result of technological change; mediate the forces of the global economy; and adequately fund urgent public priorities such as education, health, and climate? In this episode, economist Kimberly Clausing stops by to talk with Steven Dean about how tax can address big challenges such as increasing inequality and growing threats to the middle class.
Farm Numbers Show the Smallest Drop in Recent History AgWeb

The Oldest Company in Almost Every Country (That is Still in Business) Business Financing. Fittingly, the oldest company in the United States is a plantation. Well done.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: The staff cap “is an inflexible and arbitrary imposition”, the committee says.