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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
No, the World's Only Surviving Tax Haven is not the US of A, according to the US-led OECD: it's poor little Trinidad&Tobago, which nearly tore itself to pieces over FATCA, eventually signed, but apparently has not yet signed up to the Common Reporting Standard.
Trinidad and Tobago, which previously had a rating of Non-Compliant, was unable to demonstrate progress to warrant any upgrade to its rating.

Applying the objective criteria, and taking into account the fast track reviews, Trinidad and Tobago has been identified as the only jurisdiction which has not yet made sufficient progress towards satisfactory implementation of the tax transparency standards. Discussions are continuing with Trinidad and Tobago, and progress is anticipated soon.
i.e. screws are being turned as we speak.

Strong progress seen on international tax transparency - OECD

https://www.ft.com/content/94d84054-5bf0-11e7-b553-e2df1b0c3220

https://www.oxfam.org.nz/news/oxfam-disputes-opaque-oecd-failing-just-one-tax-haven-transparency
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Meanwhile in T&T:

Automatic extradition for tax evasion

GOVERNMENT has a bill on the Parliament agenda allowing for automatic extradition for people wanted for tax evasion in foreign jurisdictions, announced Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi. He said on the Parliament agenda there is a miscellaneous bill to deal with allowing prosecution of tax evasion matters in a reciprocal arrangement where they will extradite persons deemed as wanted in a foreign jurisdiction for tax evasion.

He explained that as the law stands that if an extradition request is made for tax evasion purposes the Government can say no. “The request from the international agencies is that we remove the discretion to say no and allow for extradition of tax purposes and that is before the Parliament right now as deficiency that has been observed in our mutual evaluation of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.” On the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which requires tax authorities obtain detailed account information for US taxpayers on an annual basis, has become laws of Trinidad and Tobago as an act of Parliament and is now being operationalised by the protocol arrangements between the United States and this country.

He said that in 2011 the last government agreed that this country would become compliant member of the Global Forum on tax compliance which would require 13 versions of “FATCA” with 13 other countries in the forum or “FATCA times 13.” He noted that the result of not being compliant pliant with the Global Forum is to be blacklisted by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Global Forum are the same consequences as FATCA inclduing the risk of debanking, derisking, withholding taxes or limitation on trade because you are deemed to be a haven for money laundering and not compliant with tax evasion.
[..]
Trinidad and Tobago's Newsday : newsday.co.tt :

Not clear to me what is meant by "automatic" extradition. I suspect a degree of journalistic exaggeration. But who knows.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
And meanwhile in the US:
Congress takes action against shell companies amid scandal

Congress takes action against shell companies amid scandal
Congress is taking action against shell companies doing mysterious — sometimes nefarious — dealings such as the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MBD, which ensnared Goldman Sachs and its Asian chief, Tim Leissner, in a scandal.

The bipartisan bills introduced last week in both the House and Senate would require the Treasury Department to receive detailed information on the principals behind these shell companies.

Goldman has been under the spotlight for more than 18 months for its business dealings with 1MBD due to allegations that billions of dollars were misappropriated — causing an uproar that resulted in Leissner’s exit.

Earlier this year, Singapore banned Leissner from working in the securities industry in the city-state for 10 years.

“Shell companies were used to facilitate the theft and the laundering of funds, allegedly from the sovereign wealth fund,” said a law enforcement person familiar with the latest development, though this source was not specifically referring to Leissner.

“One individual was using those shell companies to hide assets and purchase real estate, and to open up bank accounts to move money, using escrow accounts that lawyers controlled to avoid any money laundering checks,” the person said.

It’s time for the US to take action, politicians said.

“We’re the only advanced country in the world that doesn’t already require disclosure of beneficial ownership information, and my Corporate Transparency Act will change that,” said US Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), who introduced the House bill with lead co-sponsor, Rep. Peter King (R-NY).

“Criminals are taking advantage of state laws by establishing firms — often without a physical presence or business activity — to access our banking system,” King added.
[..]
Congress takes action against shell companies amid scandal | New York Post

Carolyn Maloney is the Democrat who hastily introduced a "Same Country Exception" bill following the Repeal FATCA hearing organized by Freedom Caucus Republican Mark Meadows. 1% chance of being enacted.

Carolyn Maloney also recently introduced a bill H.R. 2710:

"Commission on Americans Living Abroad Act of 2017

This bill establishes the Commission on Americans Living Abroad which shall conduct a study of how federal laws and policies affect U.S. citizens living abroad, including civilians and members of the Armed Forces."

1% chance of being enacted.

But perhaps the "Corporate Transparency" bill may have a better chance, seeing as how Government Sachs is involved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
According to the Financial Times, significant information is being received from the US; whether under FATCA or through named-individual treaty requests, is not clear:

A global crackdown on tax evasion has lifted the lid on offshore secrets. From September, details of bank balances, interest, dividends and certain types of income earned by expats will start to be sent to their home governments wherever they may be. The new rules — known as the “common reporting standard” — will mean that evaders have very few places left to hide.

HMRC has already received some information from offshore centres. Last September it was handed information from the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, which it hopes it can use to raise up to £300m of extra revenues, according to official forecasts.

It has also received information from the US which has moved ahead of other countries in closing its net on offshore tax evaders. Mr Down of RSM says he has seen a number of letters this year from HMRC saying “we understand you have assets in the US” and demanding an explanation.

In a sign of this trend for international co-operation, tax authorities are increasingly working with each other. In a recent example of a cross-border collaboration, Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank, was the subject of simultaneous tax investigations in the UK, France and the Netherlands in March.
https://www.ft.com/content/0640f6ac-5ce9-11e7-9bc8-8055f264aa8b
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
And meanwhile in the US:
Congress takes action against shell companies amid scandal

Congress is taking action against shell companies doing mysterious — sometimes nefarious — dealings such as the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MBD, which ensnared Goldman Sachs and its Asian chief, Tim Leissner, in a scandal.

The bipartisan bills introduced last week in both the House and Senate would require the Treasury Department to receive detailed information on the principals behind these shell companies.

Goldman has been under the spotlight for more than 18 months for its business dealings with 1MBD due to allegations that billions of dollars were misappropriated — causing an uproar that resulted in Leissner’s exit.

Earlier this year, Singapore banned Leissner from working in the securities industry in the city-state for 10 years.

“Shell companies were used to facilitate the theft and the laundering of funds, allegedly from the sovereign wealth fund,” said a law enforcement person familiar with the latest development, though this source was not specifically referring to Leissner.

“One individual was using those shell companies to hide assets and purchase real estate, and to open up bank accounts to move money, using escrow accounts that lawyers controlled to avoid any money laundering checks,” the person said.

It’s time for the US to take action, politicians said.

Congress takes action against shell companies amid scandal | New York Post
Comment from Singapore on America's failure (and perhaps inability) to tackle its bank secrecy problems, compared to Singapore's active and effective response to the 1MBD scandal:

Is Trump's U.S.A. the new tax haven?

A key concern for the European Parliament Panama Papers committee (which visited the US in late March 2017) is existing U.S. laws that continue to permit beneficial owners of companies to remain anonymous. According to the report, rules—such as tolerance by states like Delaware or Nevada of highly secretive anonymous shell companies—"are rather the result of a race to the bottom between individual states or standards of disclosure and transparency.”

Highlighting Delaware, the report said that the “small East Coast state ranks first in importance” in the U.S., by a wide margin, and “also serves as one of the favored places” for real estate funds. “Delaware’s advanced business statutes make it an attractive place for global investors,” the report added.

In the US, banking regulation is split between federal and state authorities which means that CRS would be very difficult to pass. “Delaware, Nevada, Florida and Wyoming, all with very strict banking confidentiality regulations, would oppose the passing of a federal law on CRS in Congress,” the report said. “That may require state legislation or, at best, federal legislation that impinges on the rights of individual states.”

“U.S. international tax rules are disharmonious with the rest of the world,” the report said.

So what does this all mean? It means that for non-US exposed individuals, the US offers a level of privacy that other jurisdictions may not be able to offer. Furthermore, a quick look at both the House GOP and the Trump Tax Plan shows overlap particularly in the area of tax cuts. President Trump wants to cut corporate tax to 15% which is lower than both Singapore and Hong Kong. If this happens, the US would be in that sweet spot where secrecy intersects with a low tax environment.

Already, there are many reports of everyone from London lawyers to Swiss trust companies getting in on the action. Professional service providers are rushing to help High Net Worth clients move accounts from places like the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands to Nevada, Wyoming, and South Dakota.

Now compare the situation in the US with that of Singapore. Singapore has embraced both FATCA and CRS. Also the 1MDB case has led to reviews on an unprecedented scale. Yes, U.S. officials are probing Goldman Sachs. But Singapore has already withdrawn the licences of two banks–BSI Bank and Falcon Bank–and fined another eight banks S$29.1 million. These included BSI, Falcon, DBS Bank, UBS, Standard Chartered Bank, Coutts, Credit Suisse, and UOB. Singapore's M.A.S. has also strengthened AML surveillance, issued prohibition orders against four former employees of financial institutions and jailed one.

While Singapore may be a low tax jurisdiction, it is certainly taking a stance against secret and illicit flows. Time for those tax haven rankings to reflect these changes and recognize what is happening in Singapore.
Is Trump's U.S.A. the new tax haven? | Singapore Business Review
 
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