Saturday, February 18, 2017

Switzerland: Defending the interests of tax dodgers

A Swiss lawyer has posted YouTube adverts, giving tips on how to “save your black money in Switzerland” with “bonanza tax loopholes”. It raises the question of how far intermediaries, like lawyers, can go in defending their clients’ assets in an age of increased transparency and litigation.

In his videos, Enzo Caputo informs potential clients of “100% legal” loopholes in the global automatic exchange of tax information system. He advises on how to “fly under the radar” by investing outside of the banking system in gold, real estate trusts, classic cars or artifacts, such as original signatures of Einstein.

Offering to connect clients with dealers, or accompany them to auctions, Caputo signs off one video by saying: “Be rich, and remain rich.”

Enzo Caputo strongly denies that his Zurich-based Caputo & Partners practice assists tax evaders. His videos are part educational and part “pure marketing instrument with the goal of shaking up clients emotionally and to bring them to give me a call”, he told in a written statement.  (more...)


1 In 5 Canadian Homeowners Commits Mortgage Fraud, Says Top Broker

The cost of shelter in Canada has been skyrocketing for the past few years. So much so that analysts and economists have been scratching their heads at how it’s possible that so many Canadians can afford homes at these prices. The answer might be simple according to Scott Nazareth, one of Canada’s top mortgage brokers – fraud.

Scott, who is also the founder of Loanerr, estimates that mortgage fraud is much higher than people would think. “Many people may not consider ‘fraud’ the word to use for a ‘white lie’ for omissions of information to their broker or bank” he explained. “[but] they may be surprised to note that any wrong information on their mortgage application is considered fraud.”

No, these aren’t super villain-style gangsters that dabble in mortgage fraud when they aren’t trying to kill Spiderman. Many are regular Canadians scrambling to get into the real estate rush, but can’t afford it by regular standards. In fact, a lot are families trying to buy a home before prices become so high it’s no longer a reality. Scott estimates it’s “as high as 20%,  or 1 in 5 people.” He explained some people may “strategically try to withhold information or inflate their income through various means.”  (more...)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Nancy Elgie resigns from York school board amid uproar over racial slur

Charline Grant, the parent who was the target of a racial slur uttered by trustee
Nancy Elgie, said it is time for the community to heal.
York Region trustee Nancy Elgie — who has clung to her position for weeks amid public furor over her use of a racial slur — is now stepping down, saying she “brought undeserved distress” to the community and harmed the school board’s reputation.

In a video statement posted on YouTube, a well-spoken Elgie said that over the past 17 years as a trustee, “I have always tried to make a difference, particularly for our most vulnerable children.”

She said using the word n----- to refer to a black parent, after a public meeting last November “was a terrible mistake.”

“So I have decided that the best thing I can do to serve the people of Georgina, and the board, is to step down. I hope that this will allow trustees to move forward and focus on the many important issues they face. And that it will enable a process of healing and restoration to begin. I am quite willing to be involved in that process, if it would be helpful, though it will not be as a trustee,” Elgie said in the video.

Charline Grant, the parent who was the target of the slur, said, “I appreciate her finally stepping down … (now) everyone can start to heal, not just myself, but the community.”  (more...)

More coverage:

This is not only an issue for the political left. Conservative movements become undermined by closet Nazis who drive away people who would otherwise support them. This problem becomes especially acute when the leadership harbors an odious agenda. Parenthood should be the ultimate unifying factor in a community.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

DJ's Money Machine: How Donald Trump became Deutsche Bank's biggest headache

Money for nuthin...
The language was scathing, the tone sarcastic. “[Donald] Trump proclaims himself the archetypal businessman, a deal-maker without peer,” the memo said.

It mentioned Trump’s boast that he was worth “billions of dollars”. And it listed his interests in “numerous extraordinary properties” across the world, from New York to Panama, not to mention his latest golf course in Scotland.

Another document noted: “Trump is no stranger to overdue debt.”

The angry memos were written by lawyers acting on behalf of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest lender, which was suing the billionaire.

It was November 2008. Three-and-a-half years earlier the bank had loaned Trump the cash to build one of his grandest projects yet: a hotel and mega-tower in Chicago.

Trump had given his personal guarantee he would repay the $640m. As per agreement, he was now due to hand over a large chunk, $40m.

There was only one problem: the future 45th president of the United States was refusing to pay up. Deutsche initiated legal action. Trump responded with a blistering, scarcely credible writ of his own, a 10-count complaint in New York’s supreme court, in the county of Queens.

In it, Trump adopted a highly unusual defence, known as “force majeure”. He claimed that the 2008 economic crisis was a “once-in-a-century credit tsunami”, an act of God that was equivalent to an earthquake.

Since it couldn’t have been anticipated, and it wasn’t his fault, he wasn’t obliged to pay Deutsche anything. It wouldn’t get the $40m or the outstanding $330m, his writ said.

He went further. Trump claimed Deutsche Bank had actually helped cause the crunch. Therefore it owed him. Trump demanded $3bn from Deutsche in compensation.  (more...)

The Lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Anyone else see a pimp and his girl?

Donald Trump lifts anti-corruption rules in 'gift to the American oil lobby'

Donald Trump moved on Tuesday to expunge rules aimed at forcing oil companies to disclose payments made to foreign governments in order to secure lucrative mining and drilling rights.

The rules, called the Cardin-Lugar regulations, were established under the Dodd-Frank Act, the wide-ranging financial regulations brought in after the last financial crisis. Energy industry executives, including the former Exxon boss and now secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, have lobbied hard against the rule, arguing it gives global rivals a competitive edge.

The rules aimed to help fight corruption, and critics charge that Tuesday’s move handed “an astonishing gift to the American oil lobby”.

“It’s a big deal,” Trump said to reporters in the Oval Office as he signed the resolution. “The energy jobs are coming back. Lots of people going back to work now.”  (more...)


Panama Papers Committee Investigates in London UK, Home To 2,000 ‘Enablers’

Last year the Panama Papers scandal shook the world and lifted the lid on murky offshore dealings in spectacular fashion. The political consequences and investigations, criminal and otherwise are far from over. The European Parliament set up the Panama Papers inquiry committee tasked with investigating “alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application by the EU Commission or member states of EU laws on money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion.” Today Bloomberg reports that the committee begins a series of ‘secret fact-finding meetings’ in London for two days. It has come to the heart of the beast.

We have always said that the Panama Papers could just as well have been branded the ‘British Virgin Islands Papers’, since that British Overseas territory was revealed as a Mossack Fonseca favourite, whose most important secrecy offering comes from it’s “lax, flexible, ask-no-questions, see-no-evil company incorporation regime.”

The UK has a special responsibility to take a global lead on tackling financial secrecy. The United Kingdom runs a global network of Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies that includes some of the world’s biggest tax havens — including the Caymans, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and Jersey. If all of the UK’s satellite jurisdictions were rolled into one, the UK would be number one in the Tax Justice Network’s Financial Secrecy Index.  (more...)

Premier calls use of 'N-word' 'unacceptable behaviour' but won't say trustee should resign

Condescension for the back of the equity bus?
Despite calling the use of the "N-word" unacceptable — Premier Kathleen Wynne stopped short of saying that Nancy Elgie, the York District School Board trustee who admitted to using a racial slur in reference to a parent, should resign.

Wynne was asked about Elgie on Wednesday, and said there's "a lot of pressure on this individual; she's going to have to search her conscience and make a decision for herself."

Though pressed multiple times, Wynne refused to say Elgie should resign.

On Tuesday, Education Minister Mitzie Hunter said Elgie needs to step down, joining several other voices — including parents, school trustees and MPPs — who have called for the same.  (more...)