Archive for the ‘Anti-Money Laundering legislation’ Category

Switzerland consults on implementing AEOI Agreements

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

The Swiss Federal Department of Finance (FDF) has launched a consultation aimed to introduce the automatic exchange of information (AEOI) related to tax issues with a list other countries.

The consultation will run until March 15, 2017.

The list includes the following jurisdictions:
Andorra,
Argentina,
Barbados,
Bermuda,
Brazil,
the British Virgin Islands,
the Cayman Islands,
Chile,
the Faroe Islands,
Greenland,
India,
Israel,
Mauritius,
Mexico,
Monaco,
New Zealand,
San Marino,
the Seychelles,
South Africa, Turks and Caicos,
Uruguay.

The AEOI with the above-mentioned countries is to enter into force on January 1, 2018, with the first exchanges to take place in 2019.

The FDF said that the introduction of the AEOI with these countries confirms Switzerland’s international commitment to implementing the AEOI standard as well as strengthens the competitiveness, credibility, and integrity of Switzerland’s financial center. The implementation of the AEOI will be based on the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement on the Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information.

In 2017, Switzerland will introduce the AEOI with EU member states, Australia, Iceland, Norway, Japan, Canada, South Korea, and the British crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. To enter into force, the agreements require parliamentary approval of these countries.

US Offshore Disclosure Revenue above USD 10 billion

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

With 55,800 taxpayers participating in the US Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) since 2009, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it has collected more than USD 9.9 billion in taxes, interest, and penalties from the initiative to date.

The IRS added that another 48,000 taxpayers have used the streamlined filing compliance procedures to correct prior non-willful omissions and meet their federal tax obligations, paying approximately USD 450 million in taxes, interest, and penalties.

Both the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program and the streamlined procedures allow taxpayers with undisclosed income from foreign financial accounts and assets to correct and regularize their affairs while mitigating penalties.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said: “The IRS has passed several major milestones in our offshore efforts, collecting a combined USD 10 billion with 100,000 taxpayers coming back into compliance. He noted that, when receiving more information on foreign accounts, people’s ability to avoid detection becomes harder and harder. So, the IRS urges those people with international tax issues to come forward to meet their tax obligations.

Besides the OVDP and the streamlined procedures, the IRS noted that, under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and the network of inter-governmental agreements between the US and partner jurisdictions, automatic third-party account reporting has entered its 2nd year.

UN expert calls on new boss to fight Tax Havens

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

The new United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, is being asked by one of the body’s human rights experts to call a world conference on tax avoidance and evasion, with a view to abolish all tax havens.

The UN’s independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, said that Guterres’ appointment as the new UN leader offered “a unique opportunity to advance the fight against tax evasion and illicit financial flows” when the world’s attention is on these crucial problems.

“Trillions of dollars necessary for combatting extreme poverty and addressing climate change are being kept offshore, thus escaping just taxation and effectively stealing hundreds of billions of dollars each year from the public treasuries,” he stated.

He also noted: “Widespread tax avoidance, tax evasion, tax fraud and profit-shifting, facilitated by bank secrecy and a web of shell companies registered in tax havens, are now routinely documented, but their true human cost is only revealed progressively”, following the publication of his report to the General Assembly on these matters.

According to him, a growing number of human rights experts were pointing to tax abuse as a human rights issue.

“Corruption, bribery, tax fraud and tax evasion have such grave effects on human dignity, human rights and human welfare that they shock the conscience of mankind. They should be prosecuted nationally and internationally,” de Zayas said.

UK bill to open details on multinational Tax Evasion

Friday, September 9th, 2016

A legislative amendment in the United Kingdom this week will give the British government the power to publish details of tax payments made by UK-based multinational corporations on a country by country basis, as tax authorities try to clamp down on the abuse of tax laws and aggressive tax avoidance.

The change in the law followed cross-party calls for companies to publish the details of where they do their business and the tax they pay in each place, which came in response to the controversy surrounding a deal between the government of the UK and Google to repay GBP 130 million in back taxes earlier this year.

In August, the European Commission ruled that Ireland should recover up to EUR 13 billion from Apple in back taxes.

Director of the Financial Transparency Coalition described it as a welcome step but said it was important for the government to actually use the power it now has by releasing country by country reports of UK multinationals to the public as quickly as possible. He said: “It’s time to break out of perpetual scandal mode and make some changes to business as usual. A financial system that relies on plausible deniability and shifting responsibility is inherently shaky, and it’s simply not sustainable.”

Belize to enhance Anti-Money Laundering

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

To strengthen the jurisdiction’s safeguards against financial crime, Belize’s Financial Intelligence Unit and Belize Police have signed a memorandum of understanding.

The memorandum will strengthen the existing cooperation and facilitate the analysis and investigation of suspected money laundering, associated offenses, and the financing of terrorism. Implementation of the document is expected to increase the potential sources of information available to both the Financial Intelligence Unit and the Police in their fight against crime. Also, joint operations between the authorities will be possible.

The Financial Intelligence Unit is the Belizean authority dealing with the enforcement and implementation of all anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulations and the prevention of domestic tax evasion.

Angola removed from Money Laundering Blacklist

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has removed Angola from its blacklist of jurisdictions that fail to meet international standards.

The FATF added this southern African country to the list in 2010. The Angolan central bank said the FATF’s decision came after the country implemented reforms that included licensing of banks and setting up a Financial Intelligence Unit, which collects information on suspicious or unusual financial activity.

The removal is expected to improve the credit quality and financial institutions of Angola.

Last year, the risk of financial crime and difficulty in monitoring clients forced Standard Chartered to announce it had ended its dollar-clearing operations with commercial banks in Angola. Bank of America also stopped selling Angolan banks the greenback from the beginning of December 2015.

Swiss Government Adopts New Anti-money Laundering Rules

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

On November 11, 2015, the government of Switzerland adopted new rules aimed to clamp down on money laundering as the country seeks to cast off its reputation as a haven for hidden cash.

The new rules, which follow recommendations by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) last year, establish fresh due diligence requirements for traders when they accept cash payments of more than 100,000 Swiss francs (USD 99,500).

According to the statement made by the Swiss government, they also change the way in which religious foundations are registered in Switzerland and will come into force at the start of the year 2016.

Switzerland was reminded of its reputation as a place for the wealthy to hide assets this year when media outlets published leaked documents suggesting HSBC’s Swiss private bank helped customers dodge taxes.

In June, the Swiss banking association had said that the country’s banks would beef up anti-money laundering measures through transparency rules due to come into force next year.

Swiss banks to harden AML measures

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

According to the Swiss banking association, Switzerland’s banks will beef up anti-money laundering measures. This was announced weeks after a report by a government-appointed group found the Alpine nation was still vulnerable to financial crime.

More transparent rules are to come into force in 2016 to make it harder for criminals to hide their money in companies or schemes with obscure ownership structures.

The measures were announced as Switzerland investigates alleged corruption at Zurich-based FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, in connection with World Cup bids. United States’ prosecutors are also investigating alleged money laundering schemes by soccer officials.

The Swiss Bankers Association said in a statement that fighting against money laundering and terrorist financing are central issues for the Swiss financial centre. It announced that from 2016, bank would face a new requirement to identify the controlling owner of legal entities and private companies. This would mean any individual with a stake of more than 25% or exercising effective control. If no one who meets these criteria, banks must instead identify the highest-ranking employee.

The announcement follows a report this month from a Swiss interdepartmental group on combating money laundering and terrorism financing, in which it recommended measures to improve rules tackling financial crime.

EU adopts European Tax Compliance Activities

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

The European Commission has adopted the 1st annual program for its new anti-fraud regime Hercule III. Over the year 2014, EUR13.7 million will be made available to support EU member states in their enforcement activities that include fighting fraud and fiscal crime.

This program will allow member states to finance specific projects and purchase of technical equipment by national authorities, as well as to tackle smuggling and other activities affecting the EU’s financial interests. Under Hercule III, EU countries will be able to apply for more funding. They could receive funding of up to 80% of the overall costs for actions to strengthen the technical and operational capacity of customs and law enforcement agencies. In exceptional and duly justified cases, the funding could be increased to 90%.

Also, the European Commission will pay for access to specialized databases for use by member states’ customs and tax authorities. Funds will be allocated for training activities and seminars and conferences for customs and police staff.

According to Tax Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta, “Fighting fraud and corruption in the EU must really be a partnership. Hercule III means that member states will have significant financial support in catching fraudsters and protecting taxpayers’ money. Thanks to the work program adopted today, many useful anti-fraud projects can now be put into practice.”

US to toughen Money Laundering Sanctions against North Korea

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

US lawmakers moved to toughen sanctions against North Korea by targeting money laundering and human rights violations, voicing impatience with the hardline regime.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the bill hours. Previously, Japan, a US ally that has usually championed a hard line on North Korea, unexpectedly eased sanctions after talks.

The House bill would create a blacklist of officials judged to be involved in human rights abuses after a damning report by a UN commission likened abuses by Kim Jong-Un’s regime to those under Nazi Germany.

While the United States already maintains sweeping sanctions against North Korea, the proposed law would seek to make the totalitarian state radioactive for banks from third countries by asking the Treasury Department to consider designating Pyongyang a money-laundering concern.

This move is inspired by the freezing of USD 25 million in North Korean funds in 2005 on US money-laundering and counterfeiting charges at the Banco Delta Asia in the Chinese territory of Macau. Hard-up Pyongyang refused to comply with a denuclearization deal until it received the funds.

The sanctions bill would also re-impose strict restrictions on export licenses that were loosened in 2008 when the President Bush controversially took North Korea off a list of state sponsors of terrorism because he intended to sign a final denuclearization agreement.