Daily Archives: April 9, 2016

Interview Survey Reporter: Wang Wang Qishan Panama file corruption has become an important clue

Voice of America website (translated n English):

Reporter survey by the International Union (ICIJ) the gradual exposure of the “Panama file” issue again hidden wealth of Chinese nomenklatura presented in front of the world. Including Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping, including at least eight current and former CPC CPC top leaders named their families were exposed in overseas “tax havens” control the secretive offshore companies. China blocked related news, also accused the US government to discredit China’s information warfare.China is responsible for the project part of the ICIJ member Olay Shan (Alexa Olesen) April 8 via Skype accepted the VOA interview, some questions on the document outside of Panama and she wrote about the Chinese part of the lengthy report answered reporters questions.

Reporter: The international investigative reporter Union ( ICIJ) is a what kind of organization?

Olay Shan: ICIJ is an independent organization headquartered in the US capital Washington. Funding of this organization from the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Foundation and other independent funders.There are 65 countries from more than 200 investigative reporter is a member of the ICIJ.

Reporter: There is Russia and China and other countries a voice that ICIJ exposure Panama file out of a US plot to discredit the interests of these countries. How do you respond to these questions?

Olay Shan: For you mentioned the so-called conspiracy theory, I think it is because when ICIJ began to open these files, people found that not many Americans are named. But there is a reason, because Mosak von Seca companies themselves say they are not inclined to accept American customers. The company’s business model is mainly for Europe, Latin America, there are more and more to Asia. So, many Americans do not appear in the report because Mosak · Fonseca did not much American customers. Of course, none of this conspiracy. At first, some files were leaked to the “Sueddeutsche Zeitung” and then “Sueddeutsche Zeitung” turn these documents share the ICIJ. We believe that these documents have a common value for all people, so we decided to report them out.

Reporter: The Chinese party media, “People’s Daily” ‘s “Global Times” April 5 published an article entitled “stolen or made” Panama file “by no means ordinary,” the editorial. This was later deleted comments alleged “Panama file” is “Western intelligence agencies,” Putin used against such “non-Western leaders of” means of maintaining Western ideology. How do you respond?

Olay Shan: This criticism is nonsense. Because if you look at our report, you will find it is actually very fair. Not only does it allow Russia and China feel embarrassed, but also to the United Kingdom, Iceland, the United States was embarrassed, so many of the world governments, individuals and politicians feel embarrassed. Thus, the reported accusations against Russia and China are unfounded.

David Cameron Faces Calls to Resign After Finally Admitting He Had Shares in Offshore Fund

After a week in which he has been forced into making daily public statements, British Prime Minister David Cameron finally admitted in a TV interview on Thursday that he once had a stake in his late father’s offshore trust, which was named in the Panama Papers.

Opposition politicians immediately called on him to resign for being “less than honest” with the British people, and demanded he publish full details of his tax arrangements immediately. The topic #ResignCameron was trending on Twitter on Friday morning.

Cameron told ITV News that he had owned shares in the Panamanian trust, Blairmore Holdings, but had sold them in 2010, before becoming prime minister.

“We owned 5,000 units in Blairmore Investment Trust, which we sold in January 2010. That was worth something like £30,000,” he told the television channel.

“I paid income tax on the dividends. There was a profit on it but it was less than the capital gains tax allowance so I didn’t pay capital gains tax,” Cameron said.

Cameron was expected to publish his tax returns as soon as possible, said Sky News.

Read on.

The Latest: El Salvador raids offices in Panama Papers case

LONDON — The Latest on the publication by a coalition of media outlets of an investigation into offshore financial dealings by the rich and famous (all times local):

12:40 a.m.

Police in El Salvador have raided the local offices of the Panama-based company targeted in a data leak known as “the Panama Papers.”

Prosecutors said Friday they were looking for evidence of Salvadoran citizens who opened accounts through the Mossack Fonseca law firm.

The data leak revealed the ties of rich and influential people around the world to secretive financial accounts and shell companies in low-tax havens used to hide wealth.

El Salvador’s head prosecutor said officials decided to act after hearing that the company’s sign was being taken down from the offices Thursday night. Douglas Melendez said prosecutors found “few documents” during the raid.

Melendez said “we have found a lot of computers and servers,” and about a half-dozen employees, who are being questioned.

___

7:12 p.m.

French president Francois Hollande has spoken with his Panamanian counterpart Juan Carlos Varela to explain why his country was put back on a list of non-cooperative countries.

The president’s press office said in a statement that Hollande also encouraged Panama to answer requests for information issued by French tax authorities.

Hollande confirmed that France has convened a meeting of OECD experts to be held next week to explore possibilities of cooperation between fiscal administrations in the wake of the so-called Panama Papers revelations.

___

Read on.

Panama Papers: 1,000 secret Nevada firms, 2 overseas addresses

A USA TODAY analysis of more than 1,000 American-based companies registered by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers leak, casts the United States openly into an uncomfortable role: an offshore haven of corporate secrecy for wealthy business operations across the globe.

The analysis found that both Nevada and Wyoming have become secretive havens much like Bermuda and Switzerland have long been. And at least 150 companies set up by Mossack Fonseca in those states have ties to major corruption scandals in Brazil and Argentina.

The corporate records of 1,000-plus Nevada business entities linked to the Panamanian law firm reveal layers of secretive ownership, with few having humans’ names behind them, and most tracing back to a tiny number of overseas addresses from Bangkok high rises to post offices on tiny island nations. Only 100 of the Nevada-born corporations have officers with addresses in this country: 90 in Nevada, nine in Florida and one in Delaware.

The financial records show more than 600 of the companies’ corporate officers are listed at one of just two addresses in the world, one in Panama and the other Seychelles, a small Indian Ocean archipelago. The addresses, in both countries, are the same as Mossack Fonseca’s headquarters.

Read on.

Thailand investigates 16 people on Panama Papers list

Thailand is investigating 16 people, including current and former politicians and well-known business people, whose names appeared in the “Panama Papers”, a top official at the country’s Anti Money Laundering Office (AMLO) said on Friday.

The individuals are among scores of politicians and business figures worldwide who feature in the massive document leak from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in establishing offshore companies.

The investigation into possible money laundering is at an early stage and Thai authorities have so far found no evidence of wrongdoing, AMLO acting Secretary-General Seehanat Prayoonrat told reporters on Friday.

Read on.

Nightly Business Report: Nevada and Wyoming are the biggest two states of U.S. tax haven

US Tax Haven

Watch Friday’s segment of Nightly Business Report. Tax havens are not just overseas. Nevada and Wyoming are the biggest states that are U.S. tax havens. And those two states have direct ties to the Monsack and Fonseca firm that is involved in the Panama papers tax haven scandal. Reuters did an expose in June 2011 on how lax US incorporation practices.  From Global Financial Integrity website:

CHEYENNE/ATLANTA – An investigative piece published by Reuters today, “A little house of secrets on the Great Plains” looks at the lax incorporation requirements of US states with a focus on Wyoming Corporate Services, “a business-incorporation specialist that establishes firms which can be used as ‘shell’ companies, paper entities able to hide assets.” The “little house” in this case, is a 1,700-square-foot brick house in holds more than 2,000 registered companies.

No states license mass incorporators, and only a few require them to formally register with state authorities. None collect the names and addresses of “beneficial owners,” the individuals with a controlling interest in corporations, according to a 2009 report by the National Association of Secretaries of State, a group for state officials overseeing incorporation. Wyoming and Nevada allow the real owners of corporations to hide behind “nominee” officers and directors with no direct role in the business, often executives of the mass incorporator.

New York Attorney General pushes FHFA for principal reduction

It turns out that the housing rights protestors that interrupted a lecture earlier this week at Harvard from Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt aren’t the only ones pushing the FHFA to engage in principal reduction.

In a letter sent this week to Watt, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman joins the chorus calling for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reduce the mortgage balances of struggling borrowers.

In Schneiderman’s letter, a copy of which was obtained by HousingWire, New York’s attorney general says that he is “pleased” that the FHFA is now “seriously evaluating” adopting a principal reduction plan, and advocates that principal reduction “should be deployed broadly and quickly to homeowners in desperate need of this relief from the continuing damage caused by the housing crisis.”

According to Watt, the FHFA is still considering a principal reduction plan, despite reports to the contrary.

Read on.

A student op-ed: Clinton visits a Seattle high school, and student resentments surface

Ifrah Abshir is a senior attending Rainier Beach High School. She was featured in Gov. Jay Inslee’s “State of the State” address. Inspiring young girls to code, she addressed inequality in the computer science industry. She’s a newspaper editor and published writer.

By Ifrah Abashir, Occupy.com | Op-Ed

It was a typical Monday at Rainier Beach High School. Classes were quiet as usual at the start of the school week. Most students, including myself, were dragging our feet from class to class, counting down the minutes until 2:50 p.m.

Then, during third period, a classmate of mine shouted from the back of the room, “Hillary Clinton is coming to Rainier Beach tomorrow!” Instantly, the class swarmed to her, asking for her sources. At our school we are very politically aware and have discussions about presidential candidates nearly every week.

The news made us act as if we were two-year-olds force-fed several bottles of energy drinks. After about five minutes of yelling and pushing and begging for more info, we discovered that our classmate had received the news through Twitter. We instantly went to several other teachers asking for validation, but no one could confirm. They were all just as clueless as we were. Eventually a teacher asked the front office, and learned that it was true: Hillary was on her way.

Besides the administration, nobody in our school had been privy to this knowledge until it was too late to act on it. We, as students, should have a right to decide whether our school is used as a stage for a political candidate, especially if a lot of the students and staff do not think that a particular candidate has their best interests at heart.

At Rainier Beach, we share a genuine interest in politics, largely because we have to. Being a school with over 90% students of color and more than 70% on free and reduced lunch, most of the things being said in the political world right now affect us directly.

For instance, Donald Trump has publicly insulted Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants, and those who are less affluent. Essentially, he is insulting nearly all of our student population. He has also proposed several policies infringing on our rights as Americans which he threatens to implement if he becomes president. This incites fear in our hearts and forces us to watch the campaigns while praying that certain personalities do not get elected.

Which is why a lot of our students hold animosity towards Mrs. Clinton.

Ahlaam Ibraahim, a senior, said, “I don’t trust her because of her policies and how she’s always switching up. Something in my gut says she isn’t about what she states she is. It’s like she’s putting on a show for us.”

Another student, Naima Yusuf, said, “I’m still hung over her calling [gangs of kids in urban areas] ‘super predators’ and then saying they needed to be brought to heel. This was and is still super insulting to me.”

Still another student said, “I’m not really cool with her foreign policies and how she supports Israel indefinitely. The conflict in Palestine was a problem caused by western interference and by continuing to support the occupation, we are causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.”

On the subject of race, another said, “We are in a moment in time right now where the conversations we are having about race and identity are becoming prominent and necessary. I feel like Clinton doesn’t do a good enough job of stepping out of her comfort zone to address those problems. She’s really good at pointing fingers and acknowledging there is a problem, but not describing solutions that are intersectional.”

If so many of our students feel this way about Clinton, how do you expect they felt knowing that she was coming to our school the next day? We felt that using Rainier Beach over other high schools in Seattle was a strategic PR stunt by the Clinton campaign, considering most of our students are young people of color.

Yet despite all of our internal feelings and desire to act upon them, we got the news so late that there was nothing we could do but attend the rally and see what Hillary was about.

The next day, after school was over, we waited for hours to get into our own gym for the rally. We were tired, coming off a full school day, and our spirits were low because we felt like we were being sold for publicity without our consent. To add to that, in line we had offensive comments directed toward us. One woman approached us and said, “Can I take a photo with you guys so I can show people that I’m not afraid of Muslims?”

Another man and woman were snickering behind us, talking mess about our school and neighborhood. In that moment we felt like we did not belong because we were some of the only people of color in that long line, which wrapped three times around in the parking lot and onto the front of the school. Can you imagine feeling like you don’t belong in your own school?

After waiting for roughly three and a half hours, we realized there was a priority line for other people to get in first. So we waited even longer for them to get situated, then we finally made our way in and looked around.

People from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign were picking out the few people of color in attendance and asking them to stand in the bleachers behind Hillary so the crowd would look more diverse then it really was. It looked as if most people there had never stepped foot in the south end, let alone Rainier Beach.

In Clinton’s speech, given to students and staff, it was not about what she said but rather what she did not say. She didn’t mention what she would do for schools like ours. She didn’t talk about the school-to-prison pipeline. She didn’t talk about high incarceration rates. Rather, she talked about holistic ideals she had for the country.

Exactly as our students feared, Mrs. Clinton had a lot of filler talk, but not the hardcore conversations that are needed. She didn’t even allow for a question and answer session, and the only people that got to talk to her and take pictures were those in the priority line.

This explains why a lot of our students and staff appreciate Bernie so much: Sanders actually talks about things that matter to us. He has those uncomfortable conversations because he knows they’re needed. We appreciate Bernie because he knows our political and economic system right now only helps the rich get richer and the poor get poorer; that it only continues to be punitive and inconsiderate. This explains why he won the Washington state caucus on Mar. 26 by a sweeping majority.

You would have assumed that somebody from Hillary’s campaign might have informed her about our school before she chose to attend. They might have informed her about how socially active we are. How we continue to fight to achieve equity across our school district, the city and beyond. And how we aren’t afraid of calling things how we see them.

Maybe then she would have changed her speech to better address our concerns, and possibly even shifted our minds to get our vote.

Source: Truthout

Wall Street Should Pay a Sales Tax, Too

Truthout:

In case there was any doubt, the presidential election fight has confirmed that blasting Wall Street, even eight years after the financial crisis, is still a vote-getter.

Hillary Clinton has said she’d like to jail more bankers. Donald Trump has skewered the hedge fund managers who are “getting away with murder.” And Bernie Sanders has made Wall Street accountability a centerpiece of his campaign.

Of course, financial industry lobbyists aren’t about to take this lying down. In recent weeks, they’ve turned up the heat on lawmakers to block one particular measure that Sanders has mentioned in nearly every stump speech: taxing Wall Street speculation.

Americans are used to paying sales taxes on basic goods and services, like a spring jacket, a gallon of gas, or a restaurant meal. But when a Wall Street trader buys millions of dollars’ worth of stocks or derivatives, there’s no tax at all.

Sanders has introduced a bill called the Inclusive Prosperity Act, which would correct that imbalance by placing a small tax of just a fraction of a percent on all financial trades. It wouldn’t apply to ordinary consumer transactions such as ATM withdrawals or wire transfers.

Wall Street lobbyists are claiming that such taxes would still hurt mom-and-pop investors. The Investment Company Institute, which represents the trading arms of JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and the leading hedge funds, recently fired off a letter to Congress arguing that a Wall Street speculation tax would “harm all investors, especially middle-income American workers saving for retirement.”

In reality, the type of tax Sanders is promoting would target the high rollers in the financial casino. Because the tax applies to every trade, it would hit the traders engaging in computerized split-second stock-flipping the hardest. That’s a good thing, because that kind of trading makes markets less stable and adds no real value to the Main Street economy.

For ordinary investors in low-turnover pension funds, the costs would be negligible — like a tiny insurance fee to protect against crashes caused by reckless and often automated speculation.

Under the Sanders plan, the tax rate would range from 0.005 percent to 0.5 percent, depending on the financial instrument. By contrast, ordinary sales taxes currently average 8.4 percent.

How Private Prison Companies Use Big Tax Breaks and Low Wages to Maximize Profit

The two largest private prison firms in the United States are exploiting a loophole in the tax code to secure millions of dollars in corporate tax breaks.

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group avoided a combined $113 million in federal income taxes in 2015 alone, according to an analysis of federal financial filings by the racial and economic justice group Enlace.

The prison business is booming despite efforts to reduce the nation’s prison population, which has exploded in recent decades and forced the government to contract with private prison companies to meet demand. Last year, CCA reported $222 million in net profits, and GEO Group reported $139 million.

CCA and GEO Group have enjoyed increased profits per prisoner housed in their facilities since 2012, when both companies began converting themselves into special real estate trusts that are exempt from the federal corporate income tax, at least in the eyes of the IRS.

Read on.