Archive for January, 2007

Privacy endangered: taxpayers’ details to be shared?

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

It is possible that the Australian Taxation Office could soon have powers to release people’s tax information in cases of money laundering, terrorism and large-scale avoidance. The Australian Federal Government intends to introduce legislation to allow the Taxation Office to release tax-related details in case the public interest exceeds personal privacy considerations.

The idea itself could be helpful and useful in many money laundering cases, however there are concerns related to the potential misuse of power and privacy breaches, especially by third parties that may obtain sb’s personal information.

Acting Treasurer Peter Dutton said that the changes were designed to help the $300 million Operation Wickenby investigation into tax evasion, as well as to target terrorists and organized crime. Operation Wickenby demonstrated that in case of a serious risk to revenue it is necessary to provide support to the Tax Office and other enforcement agencies in order to fight that threat. Information will also be shared with agencies such as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

The changes could apply also in individual cases of tax evasion, which will be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

The Government is expected to standardise tax secrecy and disclosure provisions of 22 acts into a single law. But it would not need some additional protections under the Tax Act and other laws.

The Law Institute of Victoria opposes the changes considering that such information should be revealed only with court approval. It also expresses concerns about the information potentially becoming known to third parties.

UK Law Society requires explaining Money Laundering Regulations

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

On January 12, 2007, the UK Law Society announced that new money laundering regulations are not clear enough, and even nearly impossible-to-interpret, and therefore they could put solicitors at risk of inadvertently committing criminal offences.

Also, the Law Society warned that the cost to clients of solicitor’s work in dealing with trusts will increase because of the new EU Directive.

The Law Society found a number of the terms in the new rules are unclear, and if not clarified by the Government, solicitors will have to make extensive inquiries to avoid inadvertently committing a criminal offence.

As ambiguities and discrepancies are unacceptable to be passed, the Law Society is requiring the regulations with workable definitions of important terms.

Binladin’s money-laundering case dropped

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

French judges have dismissed a 4-year money-laundering investigation for lack of evidence – the investigation was targeting Osama Bin Laden’s half-brother, Yeslam Binladin.

Yeslam Binladin, a Saudi-born businessman with Swiss nationality, was suspected of a transfer of USD 300 million from Switzerland to Pakistan that could bring benefit to the al-Qaeda chief.

Binladin claims that he has no contact with his half-brother, saying that they shared a common bank account because of the inheritance from his father split between 54 brothers and sisters. Also, he insists on the different spelling of his family name (not Bin Laden, but Bin Laden).

Criminal Assets Bureau

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

The Criminal Assets Bureau is Ireland’s agency established in 1996 as a Statutory Body pursuant to the Criminal Assets Bureau Act, 1996 that forms part of the National Support Services Branch. It is a division of the Garda Síochána, however, it annually reports to the Minister for Justice, Equality & Law Reform.

The Bureau was established because of increasing volumes of serious organised crime in Ireland, prompted by the murder of crime reporter Veronica Guerin and Garda Jerry McCabe. In 2005, the powers of the Bureau were extended to include corruption and organised crime committed outside the country.

The objective of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is the identification of assets derived or suspected to derive from criminal activity (for example, money laundered as a result of drug trafficking or fraud), either directly or indirectly.

The work of the Bureau has been very effective, and it is marked with numerous of seizures of illegally obtained assets. Thanks to its operations, major criminal figures have been displaced; many of them have left the jurisdiction because of being under the Bureau’s attentive eye. The CAB has locates persons involved in organised crime and through Court proceedings freezes or confiscates assets and wealth.

To identify, trace and seize illegal assets, the Criminal Assets Bureau closely works with its European and international partners.

In first 10 years of operation, the Criminal Assets Bureau collected EUR 89 million in taxes and engaged in important initiatives to curtail international criminality.

ACAMS

Friday, January 12th, 2007

ACAMS – the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists – is an organization serving as a platform for developing career and establishing professional networks for individuals in the rapidly growing field of anti-money laundering as well as some other industries.

This membership-based organization provides resources for training, identifying and locating money laundering fighters and persons interested in money laundering control procedures, policies and regulations.

The mission of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists is providing a platform for career advancement, skill development and, job performance improvement as related to anti-money laundering. ACAMS makes financial institutions and individuals competent in detection and prevention of money laundering all around the world. It deals with developing anti-money laundering programmes and certifying specialists in both government agencies and financial and non-financial businesses.

The Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists also offers the Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) designation after candidates pass the examination. The CAMS credential is increasingly considered to be the mark of a very high standard in the field.

Money Laundering & Tax Evasion

Monday, January 8th, 2007

The most ardently debated issue regarding money laundering is about tax.

Some consider money laundering is solely not paying taxes, and money laundering is tax crime. On the other hand, some think that tax evasion is criminal only in some particular occasions.

When talking about taxation one should not take it in general but as attached to one or another particular jurisdiction. Also, it is important that there is a basic principle of international law – one country does not enforce the tax laws of another.

Also, tax evasion is not really money laundering, but annually billions of untaxed money are laundered through banking and non-banking financial institutions to make the money appear legitimate. Lawfully received money cannot be laundered. Untaxed money can. So, money laundering is a result of tax evasion. The US Internal Revenue Service considers money laundering to be tax evasion in progress.

Khodorkovsky suspected of a new money laundering probe

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

Former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his lawyers have recently been notified by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office that Khodorkovsky is suspected of a new criminal case of money laundering. This case regards with the legalizing the proceeds of a crime.

Khodorkovsky’s lawyer, Yury Shmidt, told Interfax that the Prosecutor General’s Office investigators had not told the defense team anything new as the summons has said that Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were treated as suspects.

Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky is already serving an 8-year sentence for tax evasion and fraud. The Kremlin foe is serving his sentence in an isolated Siberian camp 3,000 miles from Moscow. Now it is possible that he could spend many more years in prison, his attorney. Khodorkovsky’s imprisoned partner Platon Lebedev is also a suspect.

Both Khodorkovsky and Lebedev refused to answer questions and rejected the case. Shmidt claims that a new probe is the logical continuation of a government vendetta “aimed at putting moral and physical pressure on Mikhail Khodorkovsky, further destruction of Yukos and seizing its property”.

No details about the probe were provided by Prosecutors.