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Friday’s Top News Stories

Clark Gascoigne

Swiss banker charged in Alstom bribe probe
AFP, May 6, 2010

Swiss econ min optimistic UBS deal will be passed
Reuters, May 7, 2010

Greek PM must bow to calls for catharsis
Reuters, May 7, 2010

Hedge Funds Oppose Limits On Non-EU Funds In Legislation
Dow Jones Newswires (Subscription), May 7, 2010

Caribbean Nations Continue To Spend Big Dollars On Lobbying Congress
CaribWorldNews, May 7, 2010

British companies set for crackdown on corruption
The Independent, May 7, 2010

Reformer Resigns, Rattling Indonesia
Wall Street Journal, May 6, 2010

ANALYSIS-Indonesia’s reform drive comes under scrutiny
Reuters, May 7, 2010

Police expand Holyland probe to US to grill Olmert’s brother
The Jerusalem Post, May 6, 2010

Sean Connery called to appear before Spanish judge
The Daily Telegraph, May 6, 2010

Footballer admits offering bribe in Hong Kong match-fixing case
Earth Times, May 7, 2010

Marcos-Aquino feud continues in Philippine election
The Washington Post, May 7, 2010

Sierra Leone’s anti-corruption chief resigns
BBC News, May 7, 2010

Metro Bank accused of ‘unsafe’ practices
York Dispatch (Pennsylvania, USA), May 7, 2010

U.S. lifts Sumitomo Mitsui money-laundering order
MarketWatch, May 6, 2010

Alleged drug ring leader in El Paso gets prison
Associated Press, May 7, 2010

US Takes Aim At Colombian Drug, Money Laundering Networks
Dow Jones Newswires, May 6, 2010

Fear factor has UK plc seeking legal remedies
Financial Times, May 7, 2010

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U.S. Senator Ben Cardin Argues for ESTT Amendment on U.S. Senate Floor

Clark Gascoigne

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) took to the U.S. Senate floor today to argue in favor of attaching the Energy Security Through Transparency Act (ESTT) to the financial regulatory reform legislation moving through Congress. The ESTT legislation would help bring much needed transparency to the extractive industries by requiring companies in the oil, natural gas, and minerals industries to disclose payments made to foreign governments.

Watch the video clip from C-SPAN below:

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Eurodad and the Task Force Call on Repsol to Support Country by Country Reporting Standard for the Extractive Industry

Clark Gascoigne

MADRID—Representatives from Eurodad, a member of the Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development, took the floor at the Repsol shareholders meeting on April 30 in Madrid and called on the firm to support a country by country reporting standard for the extractive industry. Repsol is the world’s 15th largest petroleum refining company.

“We believe that, by giving its public and explicit support to a country by country accounting standard now under discussion by the International Accounting Standards Board Repsol YPF will contribute its voice in opposing bad corporate governance practices and involvement with tax avoidance and evasion,” said Marta Ruiz, Eurodad’s Policy and Advocacy Officer.

Eurodad and the Task Force believe that such a standard will dramatically improve transparency of multinational corporate activities and will provide very valuable information to curb illicit tax practices such as profit shifting and tax evasion in developing countries. These practices are estimated to account for more than what these countries receive in Official Development Assistance.

Plugging these leaks would therefore substantially contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

“Repsol YPF, as a firm that believes that the future of the company will only prosper if it addresses the global challenges faced by society, should tackle these problems by supporting a mandatory measure of transparency that goes beyond the sphere of corporate social responsibility,” Ruiz noted.

See full speech here…


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Thursday’s Top News Stories

EJ Fagan

From bleeding Africa to grabbing the land
The Citizen (Tanzania), May 6, 2010

New Nigerian President Sworn In
The New York Times, May 6, 2010

Nigeria: Case against anti-corruption czar dropped
The Associated Press, May 6, 2010

ANALYSIS: Economic forum’s theme seen as catalyst for East Africa growth
The Citizen (Tanzania), May 6, 2010

New tax is the least of big miners’ worries
The Sydney Morning Herald, May 6, 2010

Greece’s austerity measures
BBC News, May 5, 2010

Swiss banks getting tougher with clients they suspect of tax evasion, it is claimed
Investment International, May 6, 2010

EU Close to Hedge-Fund Deal
Dow Jones Newswires, May 6, 2010

H-P Has Time Until May 28 To Respond To India Charges – Sources
Dow Jones Newswires, May 6, 2010

Arms dealer wanted in India major funder of UK Liberal Democrats
The Times of India, May 6, 2010

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South Caucasus must face up to anti-corruption challenge

Clark Gascoigne

From Transparency International:

New reports show Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia need to strengthen governance

BRUSSELS—Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia must adopt stronger anti-corruption legislation and fully implement it in order to ensure progress is made in fighting the problem, according to three new assessment reports released today by Transparency International (TI), the global anti-corruption organisation.

The reports, which were compiled by TI chapters in each country, focus on reforms in the judiciary and in the public sector. They also assess whether each country is complying with international anti-corruption conventions and implementing recommendations made by the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the Council of Europe body that monitors anti-corruption efforts.

The TI reports are issued ahead of the European Commission’s Action Plan annual reviews for the three countries, slated for 11 May.

”The European Neighbourhood Policy provides guidelines for advancing anti-corruption, but to ensure countries live up to their commitments requires independent civil society monitoring,” said Miklos Marschall, Regional Director Europe and Central Asia for TI. “These reports and future reviews will provide ongoing oversight to hold governments to account and help ease the corruption burden on citizens.”

Each European Neighbourhood Policy: monitoring anti-corruption report evaluates whether the countries are delivering on commitments made in their 2006 Action Plans signed as part of the European Union’s European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The policy is designed to strengthen a shared commitment to common values, including good governance and sustainable practices guaranteeing the rule of law, between the European Union and its neighbouring countries by land and sea.

The TI reports offer a solid, indicator-based framework for benchmarking progress in the ENP area related to anti-corruption policies and practices. TI’s approach, which is more detailed and critical than the EC’s own review mechanism, highlights the importance of independent input in the long-term move towards greater transparency and accountability in government.

Observations and recommendations highlighted in the reports include:

Armenia: Although Armenia has increased promotion of overall better governance standards, transparency and independence in the judiciary are limited; the sector is perceived as the country’s most corrupt. Civil service reforms are progressing but there is a lack of transparency, accountability and integrity. Armenia has also failed to implement fully the recommendations made by the GRECO.

Azerbaijan: The report notes that despite well-crafted legislation in both the judiciary and public sector, the laws are not being implemented. The same is true for the country’s anti-corruption legislation: the laws meet international standards, but now need to be used. Azerbaijan has made progress implementing the GRECO recommendations mainly on legislative initiatives, enhancement of cooperation between various agencies, and introducing training programs.

Georgia: The report notes significant progress in reform legislation, particularly in compliance with GRECO recommendations and in terms of judicial reorganisation, but suggests a need for greater independence of the judiciary, which is seen to be influenced by the government. Public sector anti-corruption reforms vary from department to department signalling a need for a cohesive, national reform strategy.


Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption

Note to editors: The European Neighbourhood Policy was developed in 2004 and now covers 16 countries that surround the EU, 13 of which have Action Plans in place. (Russia is not part of ENP; it has a strategic partnership with the EU). GRECO, established in 1999 under the Council of Europe, currently has 46 European member states and the United States.

TI will publish all three reports in their respective national languages by the end of May 2010. English versions of the Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia reports can be downloaded.

Interviews can be arranged in Armenian, Azerbaijani, English, Georgian, German and Russian.

Media Contacts:

Adrian Aupperle
Phone: +32 485 327 642
E-mail: aaupperle@transparency.org

Deborah Wise Unger

Phone: +49 30 343820666
E-mail: dunger@transparency.org

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Wednesday’s Top News Stories

EJ Fagan

Coming to America or going to Siberia
The Nigeria Guardian, May 5, 2010

We made mistakes, admits Papaconstantinou
The Financial Times, May 4, 2010

Beating tax evasion, Greek-style Sway
Business Mirror (Phillippines), May 6, 2010

G8 corruption scandal hits Silvio Berlusconi coalition
The Times, May 5, 2010

Nigerian ex minister to face corruption charges Thursday
AFP, May 5, 2010

Indonesia reels from corruption fighter’s departure for World Bank
The Sydney Morning Herald, May 6, 2010

Julius Baer whistleblower cites Swiss tax edge
Reuters, May 3, 2010

Caisse chief concerned over banks’ exposure to offshore tax havens
The Globe and Mail, May 4 ,2010

Europe Also Screwing The Caymans
Dealerbreaker, May 4, 2010

Gibraltar entangled in ‘money laundering’ and ‘tax dodgers’ reports
Panorama (Gibralter), May 5, 2010

Court Rules Against Mississippi Businessman’s Tax Shelter Promoted by KPMG
US Department of Justice Press Release, May 4, 2010

HP’s woes continue with $325m Indian tax evasion claim
Information Age, May 5, 2010

German court convicts arms dealer of tax evasion
AFP, May 5, 2010

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Swiss Banks Tax Wealthy Clients to Facilitate Tax-Evasion

Clark Gascoigne

Swiss banking giants have–for a long time–charged wealthy clients a pretty penny to knowingly facilitate offshore tax-evasion, according to former offshore banker Rudolf Elmer.  The Julius Baer executive-turned-whistleblower, speaking at an offshore financial conference in Miami yesterday, told the audience that he has files detailing the banks culpability.  According to Kim Dixon at Reuters:

Rudolf Elmer, who told his story in public for the first time, was fired from Julius Baer in 2002. He says he has divulged internal company documents with officials in several countries, including the United States and Germany.

As a former chief operating officer for Julius Baer in the Cayman Islands, Elmer says he has files that show the bank helped clients skirt taxes.

“If you look at the cost you pay for Swiss banking, it’s tremendous,” Elmer told an audience of bankers and others at an offshore financial conference in Miami. “What do you get out of it? Tax advantage. It’s that simple.”

The bank, of course, denies Mr. Elmer’s allegations, but Julius Baer’s credibility is hardly in tact following the track record of Swiss banks.

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Tuesday’s Top News Stories

EJ Fagan

Why are Greeks not paying their taxes?
The Christian Science Monitor, May 3, 2010

Greek Austerity Should Include a Tax Amnesty
The Huffington Post, May 3, 2010

Tax fears hit home across mining
The Sydney Morning Herald, May 4, 2010

Google figures in need of advanced search
The Sydney Morning Herald, May 4, 2010

Tax evasion is the moral equivalent of genocide
The Express Tribune (Pakistan), May 4, 2010

IPL: A garden variety of scam
The Economic Times (India), May 4, 2010

Tax Havens’ Days Are Numbered
Forbes Magazine, May 3, 2010

Bill Takes Aim At Corporate Tax Loopholes
The Hartford Courant, May 4, 2010

Oil still accounts for 40% GDP, 80% foreign exchange, FG
The Vanguard (Nigeria), May 3, 2010

Vessel For Oil Fields Inaugurated
Graphic (Ghana), May 3, 2010

US revises anti-money laundering manual
Reuters, May 4, 2010

Gaddafi accuses Swiss of covering up murders and money laundering
Scotsman News, May 4, 2010

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Here’s What You Need To Know About BP’s Insurance Setup

Richard Murphy

Here’s What You Need To Know About BP’s Insurance Setup.

BP has caused one of the world’s biggest ever oil spills – and appears to have no idea what to do about it.

So this report is not encouraging:

BP owns its key insurance company, Jupiter Insurance LTD, according to the company’s SEC filings.

Jupiter Insurance LTD. insures the company’s international oil and gas assets from a base in Guernsey, the offshore UK tax haven. It is likely located in a special purpose vehicle (SPV), which prevents BP from having to make public the firm’s assets or liabilities.

Jupiter Insurance retains its BP liabilities, not re-insuring them through another firm or selling them off to further buyers. BP may be forced to pay some of the insurance payments on its own facilities, if it has not prepared Jupiter Insurance to make such payouts.

So we have no idea whatsoever whether BP has the capacity to pay for the disaster it has created thanks to the opacity of Guernsey.

That helps no one right now – least of all BP, whose share price has fallen about 15% as a result of this spill.

When will people learn that opacity does not pay?

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Monday’s Top News Stories

EJ Fagan

Africa Boom Lures Investors as Growth Set to Double
Bloomberg News, May 3rd, 2010

Greek Wealth Is Everywhere but Tax Forms
The New York Times, May 2, 2010

Is austerity a Greek myth?
The Washington Post, May 3rd, 2010

Resource tax likely to put deals in the dark
The Syndey Morning Herald, May 4, 2010

US to probe thousands more offshore tax evaders
Reuters, May 3, 2010

Op-Ed: Time to close the tax haven loophole
The Hill, April 30, 2010

Global move on tax planning limits
Business Standard (India), May 3, 2010

Chile Considering Pacts With Tax Havens To Combat Evasion Minister
Dow Jones Newswires, April 29, 2010

China State Media On Corruption And Cooling Off The Real Estate Market
Sinocism, May 2, 2010

Afghan stability a must
The Boston Herald, May 1, 2010

Nigeria: Corruption – a Lost War
The Daily Trust (Nigeria), April 29, 2010

Nigeria: Corruption – El-Rufai to Appear Before EFCC Tuesday
The Daily Independent (Nigeria), May 2, 2010

Zimbabwe: Paying Lip Service to Corruption
The Herald (Zimbabwe), May 3, 2010

PRS Townhall: Min. Konneh Urges Diaspora Liberians to Help Fight Corruption
The Liberian Journal, May 3, 2010

Kyrgyzstan probes corrupt fuel supplies to US base
News Tiger (India), May 3, 2010

Mass rally against corruption
The Daily News (South Africa), May 3, 2010

South Africa: Selebi Now Accused of Money Laundering
Business Day (South Africa), April 30, 2010

German CO2 Tax Probe Spreads to at Least Nine European Nations
Bloomberg News, April 30, 2010

Talk of the day — Tax evasion and the law
Focus Taiwan, May 2, 2010

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Multi-million dollar payments to Cambodia by French oil giant Total should be scrutinized by country’s donors

Clark Gascoigne

From Global Witness:

Questions regarding oil and mining payments made to the Cambodian government should top the bill at June’s donor-government meeting in light of an announcement by Prime Minister Hun Sen of a US$28 million payment by French oil company Total, said Global Witness today. Hun Sen said on Wednesday that Total has paid US$8 million into a social development fund as part of its agreement to explore for oil offshore, and an additional US$20 million signature bonus to the government.

Global Witness contacted Total, which confirmed that this information was accurate. The payment was made in January 2010 for rights to offshore Block 3.

The news follows on from an announcement that the US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating multinational mining company BHP Billiton for possible violations of anti-graft legislation. Neither BHP Billiton nor the SEC have officially confirmed that the enquiry relates to the company’s activities in Cambodia but a number of press articles have stated that this is the case.

In its February 2009 report, Country For Sale, Global Witness detailed corruption and nepotism in the nascent extractives industry in Cambodia. The report showed how rights to exploit oil and mineral resources have been allocated behind closed doors by a small number of powerbrokers surrounding the prime minister and other senior officials. Its findings suggested that millions of dollars paid by oil and mining companies to secure access to these resources were missing from the central national accounts.

“We welcome the prime minister’s openness on this latest round of oil payments, but we still don’t know whether the money from Total has turned up in national accounts because the information has not been made public,” said George Boden, Global Witness campaigner. “These latest developments reinforce the need for the country’s donors – who last year provided the equivalent of over 50% of Cambodia’s annual budget – to insist all payments are made public.”

The 2007 data for petroleum concession revenue – the latest year in which this category appeared – only totaled $21,000. Data from 2008 is inconclusive, and data from 2009 shows a combined revenue from both mining and petroleum concessions of nearly $1.5 million. Data for 2010 has not been published yet.

“These figures represent only a fraction of the sum of the payments Global Witness is aware of. Overall, they raise serious questions,” said Boden. “The people of Cambodia and governments who give development assistance have a legitimate right to know what happened to that money. Donors must use the upcoming round of donor-government meetings to ask some tough questions and get some answers.”

/ Ends

For further information please contact George Boden on 0207 492 5899 or 07912 516 445

Notes to editor:

1.        In its February 2009 report, Country For Sale, Global Witness revealed that BHP Billiton had paid US$1m to the Cambodian government in September 2006 in exchange for rights to explore a bauxite concession. Global Witness was unable to find any evidence that the money made it into national accounts. The same report detailed how other companies had paid millions to the Cambodian government in signature bonuses and social development funds to secure the rights to prospect for oil and minerals. These payments also failed to show up in the government accounts.

2.        Figures for Cambodian government revenue are from the TOFE – ‘Tableau des Operations Financières de l’Etat’, Ministry of Economy and Finance. Figures in US$ were accurate at the time of conversion from Riels, they have been rounded to the nearest figure.


Download press release

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Friday’s News Digest

Clark Gascoigne

Op-Ed:Time to close the tax haven loophole
The Hill, April 30, 2010

PEW demand some restrictions on offshore companies
Pakistan Daily Mail, April 30, 2010

IRS, Treasury Aim for Release of FATCA Guidance in Stages, Official Says
Tax Analysts (Subscription only), April 30, 2010

Economic Substance ‘Angel List’ Unlikely, Says Treasury Official
Tax Analysts (Subscription only), April 30, 2010

Police believe Holyland bribe money is stashed in foreign financial institutions
Ha’aretz, April 30, 2010

Russia Slow to Pick Up the Lead in Bribery Cases
The New York Times, April 29, 2010

Sentencing delayed for SoCal producers
The Associated Press, April 30, 2010

Ex-Pa. judge to plead guilty in kickback scheme
The Associated Press, April 30, 2010

Billionaire Ashcroft pays no personal taxes in Belize, PM confirms
Amandala, April 30, 2010

Nigeria: Senate Passes Anti-Money Laundering Bill
The Daily Trust, April 30, 2010

Blackjack Money Launderer Denied Bail
Blackjack Champ News, April 30, 2010

U.K. Arrests 22 as CO2 Tax Probe Widens in Europe (Update2)
Bloomberg, April 30, 2010

Armenia Failing at Tax Collections, IMF Official Says
Tax Analysts (Subscription only), April 30, 2010

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