Swiss Bank HSBC: World’s 2nd Largest Has Titanic Public Relations Problem.

Posted on February 9, 2015

by Jerry Alatalo

(Comment: The question to consider while reading the following information about recently revealed Swiss banking secrecy is this: “Why has it seemingly become the job of journalists from 45 countries around the world, instead of governments, to investigate the multi-billion dollar, decades-old global tax haven/evasion industry?” Perhaps if governments got serious by offering university law and accounting graduates student loan forgiveness, adequate pay and tools to end the world’s massive tax evasion industry – enabled by the world’s largest accounting and legal firms – the world would be a better place.)

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(Thank you to the International Consortium of Investigate Journalists for the following article. For more information on Swiss Leaks, visit: www.icij.org)

Swiss Leaks lifts the veil on a secretive banking system

Gerard Ryle, Marina Walker, Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme.ICIJ’s Gerard Ryle, left, and Marina Walker Guevara with Le Monde reporters Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme. Photo: Melissa Golden/Le Monde

Secret documents reveal that global banking giant HSBC profited from doing business with arms dealers who channeled mortar bombs to child soldiers in Africa, bag men for Third World dictators, traffickers in blood diamonds and other international outlaws, a new International Consortium of Investigative Journalists investigation has found.

The leaked files, based on the inner workings of HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm, relate to accounts holding more than $100 billion.

“We hope this will help the public understand the perils and the potential downside of so much secrecy,” said Gerard Ryle, the director of ICIJ. “What we are exposing is a world most people never get to see.”

The documents, obtained by ICIJ via the French newspaper Le Monde, show the bank’s dealings with clients engaged in a spectrum of illegal behavior, especially in hiding hundreds of millions of dollars from tax authorities. They also show bank records of famed soccer and tennis players, cyclists, rock stars, Hollywood actors, royalty, politicians, corporate executives and old-wealth families.

Find out how you can support collaborative cross-border journalism and help ICIJ continue its work.

The disclosures shine a light on the intersection of international crime and legitimate business, and they dramatically expand what’s known about potentially illegal or unethical behavior in recent years at HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks.

“The Consortium is at the forefront of exposing global tax avoidance, a problem world leaders recognize as a factor in growing inequality,” said Peter Bale, chief executive of the Center for Public Integrity. “The global reach of the Consortium’s network, the sophistication of its analytical tools and the rigor of its journalism allow it to tackle complex and far-reaching stories of this nature.”

HSBC, which is headquartered in London and has offices in 74 nations and territories on six continents, initially insisted that ICIJ destroy the data. Late last month, after being informed of the full extent of the reporting team’s findings, HSBC gave a final response: “We acknowledge that the compliance culture and standards of due diligence in HSBC’s Swiss private bank, as well as the industry in general, were significantly lower than they are today.”

How the offshore banking industry shelters money and hides secrets has enormous implications for societies across the globe. Academics conservatively estimate that $7.6 trillion is held in overseas tax havens, costing government treasuries at least $200 billion a year.

The secret files analyzed by ICIJ and its media partners — covering accounts up to 2007 associated with more than 100,000 individuals and legal entities from more than 200 nations — are a version of the ones the French government obtained and shared with other governments in 2010, leading to prosecutions or settlements with individuals for tax evasion in several countries.

ICIJ enlisted more than 140 journalists from 45 countries, including reporters from Le Monde, BBC, The Guardian, 60 Minutes, Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 45 other media organizations.

The reporters found in the nearly 60,000 leaked files the names of current and former politicians from Britain, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kenya, Romania, India, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Paraguay, Djibouti, Senegal, the Philippines and Algeria, among others.

“The world of offshore finance and secret bank accounts is deliberately complex, driven by an intricate network that crosses multiple jurisdictions. Large-scale cross-border investigations are the only way to investigate this world in depth, and uncover the layers of secrecy,” Ryle said.

“ICIJ’s model of collaborative journalism links reporters around the world to dig deeper and tell these stories in greater detail than ever before.”

ICIJ is a non-profit news organization that provides its services to newsrooms around the world. You can support ICIJ’s work in a number of ways:

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Luxembourg Leaks Reveal Global Corporate Tax Crisis.

Posted on December 4, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

ocean55The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has produced more world-shaking reports on secret, massive tax evasion schemes, this time focused on Luxembourg. The six month project – “Lux Leaks” – was undertaken by ICIJ journalists around the Earth, and has reverberated and been reported by the largest news organizations in the world. Because of the revelations a great deal of pressure has become felt by new European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker – whose previous government position was as Prime Minister of Luxembourg for 19 years.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 340 of the world’s most well-known corporations have become identified for using complex accounting schemes in Luxembourg, avoiding paying taxes altogether in their home nations, while paying as little as 1/4 of 1% tax to Luxembourg on tens of millions of Euros in income.

Whether ICIJ’s second tax evasion bombshell in recent years – the first revealed massive corporate/individual tax cheating carried out in the British Virgin Islands tax haven – results in strong, concrete actions to tackle the decades-old, trillion-dollar per year, global tax avoidance/haven industry, enabled by the world’s largest accounting and legal firms, will become publicly known as this astonishing news story grows.

The following link to ICIJ’s website opens the door to a treasure of information/articles explaining in detail what their journalists around the world have uncovered so far:  http://www.icij.org/project/luxembourg-leaks

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(Thank you to TheLipTV at YouTube)

Destructive Nature Of Earth’s Tax Haven Club.

Posted April 11, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

“Man is not a blood-thirsty animal, and war is only due to the greed and lust for power of relatively small groups, the conspiracy of the few against the many.”

– Albert Szent-Gyorgyi  (1893-1986) American biochemist, Nobel Prize 1937

superior444-1Viktor Yanukovych, the former, or deposed, or ousted president of Ukraine is alleged to have stolen $70 billion from his fellow Ukrainians and stashed it in offshore tax havens. Fellow tax haven users, including the owners of Western mass media corporations, have made sure that Yanukovych’ and their “secrets” are kept away from the consciousness of the citizens. Apple, Goggle, Microsoft, and Sysco Systems have hundreds of billions of dollars stashed offshore to avoid taxes.

The Bahamas, one of the premier tax haven jurisdictions of the over 70 around the world, has experienced big financial problems in their government. Instead of going after the people in the country who use tax avoidance schemes and have become very wealthy in the process, the government has proposed a regressive value-added tax (VAT) which hits the poor and middle class.

The large uranium producing country of Niger has decided to move against foreign mining companies to get a fairer percentage of royalties on uranium mined and shipped out of the nation. Zimbabwe, which is a big source of diamonds, has taken similar steps to recover some of the wealth from that natural resource that has been flowing out of Zimbabwe. In the Philippines, 19 mining and oil companies have been pressured to go public with their tax information.

Extraordinarily high levels of lobbying has been going on in Austria, Luxemburg, the United Kingdom and other nations to exclude trusts and offshore foundations from tax avoidance registries, thereby protecting their wealthiest clients. To the surprise of people in the broadcast, the International Monetary Fund has recently reported that countries which have been redistributing wealth strongly are experiencing a better quality of economic growth than countries that have maintained high levels of wealth inequality.

Niger has one of the richest deposits of uranium on Earth, but is also one of the poorest countries in the world. Ukraine has been looted by Ukrainian and Russian elites, a new group of looters has taken their place, and the threat of violence and war worries the people of the region. Financial records found around Viktor Yanukovych’ home after he fled to Russia read like a “who’s who” of the world’s tax havens. In recent years money stolen from Ukraine has been going to European tax havens, the British Virgin Islands, Lichtenstein, Austria, Panama, and many more.

Russian billionaires – 100 Russians own 35% of the country – park their money in the City of London in what is called a “special relationship”. Western powers cry loudly about Ukrainian and Russian corruption, while the kleptocrats have become fantastically wealthy because the West has facilitated the financial infrastructure that allowed their great wealth accumulation. Offshore tax havens are completely absent from Western sanctions against Yanukovych and Russian billionaires because “corruption travels in all directions”, and any knowledge of the tax-cheating activities of them opens up examination of the same cheating done by Westerners, Easterners, and any “ers” who have come to accumulate great wealth.

So, the billionaire and multi-billionaire bankers and industrialists from America, Russia, China, England, and all nations become motivated by extreme avarice to take very dangerous actions. These wealthiest people on Earth need to leave their avarice at the door, enter inside and get their act together. They need to erase the $ signs from their minds, and rely on spiritual and philosophical reason and wisdom to arrive at peaceful consensus which benefits the most people. They need to alter their perspectives from personal wealth and power accumulation to realize that their violent actions – both financial and military – are harming a great number of innocent human beings.

Trust funds, offshore foundations, tax-cheating billionaire elites need to stop harming and stealing from – and start helping – their fellow men, women, and children around this Earth.

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Herve Falciani: International Banking Whistleblower.

Posted March 17, 2014

by Jerry Alatalo

ocean11Herve Falciani has been called “the Edward Snowden of international banking”. He was an information technology specialist at HSBC Bank – hired to upgrade the bank’s software. He came to the point where he began noticing strange transactions. Transactions which led him to believe that massive corruption was going on at the bank – like tax evasion, aiding and abetting drug kingpins, and a variety of finance-related crimes.

As the reporter in the video puts it, “Falciani pulled off the largest bank heist in history. Not money, but bank records.” Receiving advice from law enforcement agencies, Herve Falciani stole account data every day for two years, eventually stopping at 127,000 individual and company accounts.

He fled to Spain where he knew that Spanish authorities were more aggressive in pursuit of tax evading people and corporations, knowing he was going to get arrested, and found himself in a Spanish courtroom. Spain decided not to extradite him because the legal system came to see that he had done the right thing. A woman Spanish prosecutor says in the report, “HSBC was acting like a tax haven in its own right”.

“Bank was an open door for illicit activity.”

This report breaks down various European Union nations’ share of accounts and tax recovery:

France / 9,437 accounts / 155 million pounds recovered

Spain / 1,835 accounts / 210 million pounds recovered

Greece / 1,991 accounts / 0 (zero) pounds recovered

USA / $1.9 billion fine levied on HSBC

The 1,991 accounts supplied to Greece tax authorities somehow disappeared, and included politicians, ministers, publishers, and other financial elites – and listed their off-shore companies.

Kostas Vaxevanis, editor at Hot Doc Magazine in Greece, published the list and he experienced arrest attempts twice for breaking privacy laws. He speaks about the experience:

“The magazine and I continue to receive attacks, and Greece continues to be what it is. People eating out of dustbins, while none of those who may have evaded or cheated taxes have gone to prison, nor has the state collected a euro.”

The USA received their portion of Herve Falciani’s records/accounts, but didn’t go after the tax evaders, opting to fine HSBC $1.9 billion instead. It became known that HSBC had violated sanctions on Iran, serviced Mexican and Columbian drug cartels, and laundered dirty money in the billions.

The report seems to suggest that Britain has been slow to process their share of Mr. Falciani’s accounts, a total of 10,922 linked to the United Kingdom. After three years since the Brits received the data, when this report was made there had been one prosecution in Britain. 150 million pounds had been “clawed-back”.

President and CEO of HSBC Bank USA Irene Dorner is shown in the video speaking to a Senate committee with words like “deeply regret and apologize…”, etc. This legal outcome is an exact replica to the crimes committed by the financial sector leading to the 2007 worldwide economic collapse – nobody goes to jail.

The reporter asks Herve Falciani, “Are you prepared to go to jail to make this point again?”

“Of course, I know I’m right. I’ll share with citizens if politicians don’t want.”

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(Thank you to Channel 4 News at YouTube)