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Ivory Poachers Hide Behind State-Created "Shell" Companies



May 24, 2012


Demand for elephant ivory is at all time high in China, according to an endangered animal specialist who testified at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday. The subject was the rise of poaching in Africa, including rising demand for rhino ivory in Vietnam. Witnesses included the founder of Save the Elephants in Kenya & the managing director of the Global Financial Integrity Organization.


Recent reports, including one using NASA satellite imagery of elephant reserves in Kenya, have shown a dramatic increase in ivory and rhinoceros-horn poaching in Africa.



Non-essentials revealed


The Pioneer

May 23, 2012


The Union Government’s much-awaited White Paper on Black Money, tabled on Monday by Union Minister for Finance Pranab Mukherjee in the Lok Sabha, is a disappointment, to say the least. Many had expected that the report would contain actual names and exact figures. Yet, neither does the document list those names that have illegally parked their money abroad nor does it give an accurate estimate of the amount of black money that has been generated in the country or stashed away in tax havens.


In fact, the report barely offers any information at all. Instead, it provides background material on black money — how it is generated and why it is put away in foreign countries. Then, there is a lengthy explanation on why it is particularly difficult to put a finger on the exact amount. If anything, the report goes to great lengths in a bid to debunk the popular notion that ginormous amounts of black money have been stashed abroad.



Black Money: Trillions stashed abroad is fantasy, says government


The Economic Times (India)

May 22, 2012

By ET Bureau


Various estimates of black money stashed abroad have been doing the rounds in recent years. According to a white paper tabled in the LS on Monday, most appear to be fabricated with malicious intent, with some bordering on the bizarre.


The paper relies on figures provided by the Swiss National Bank to dispel the common belief that Indians hold the maximum deposits in Swiss banks.



No black money estimates, but amnesty scheme in the offing?


First Post (India)

May 22, 2012


The highly anticipated white paper on black money was tabled in Parliament on Monday. But it was a bit of a damp squib. No mention was made of the estimated amount stashed overseas/locally as illicit funds, and no names were mentioned either.(However, a PTI report, quoting Global Financial Integrity data, said the illicit outflow of money from India was estimated at $104 billion as of December last year.)


Senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh, quite tartly, compared the white paper to a bikini, saying that it “conceals all the essentials and reveals only the non-essentials”. That’s certainly one way of looking at it.



Tax dodgers set to face crackdown


India Today

May 22, 2012


Setting up of special courts to fasttrack the trial of tax dodgers and an raise the prison term for tax evasion form part of the White Paper on black money tabled by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Parliament on Monday. Mail Today had scooped the proposals in a story carried on February 29.


The minimum sentence for tax evasion has been increased from zero to three months which means, if convicted, the offender will have to serve jail term. The paper also identifies corruption as part of the black money menace and has proposed extending the maximum sentence under the Prevention of Corruption Act to 10 years from seven years.



Black money abroad less than $213 bn; Swiss a/cs fall 60 pc


First Post (India)

May 21, 2012

By R Jagannathan


As promised, the finance minister’s White Paper on Black Money is out. But don’t hold your breath. There are no disclosures here to make you spill that cup of coffee you may be holding in your hands. Or rush out of the bath shouting Eureka!


What the White Paper does is give you a backgrounder on the various dimensions of black money – both the stuff generated here and the moolah stashed abroad – and why it is difficult to come up with a precise estimate of how much of it have evaded the taxman.



GFI calls on G8 to tackle illicit financial flows


The Economic Times (India)

May 18, 2012

By Binoy Prabhakar


Global Financial Integrity (GFI) on Friday called on leaders of the G8 bloc of nations to concretely tackle the issue of illicit financial flows and end tax haven secrecy when they meet this weekend at Camp David. Illegal capital flight costs the developing world roughly $1 trillion per year, according to GFI research.


"A major focus of this weekend's summit is the issue of food security in the developing world," said GFI Director Raymond W. Baker. "What better way to ensure food security than to guarantee that developing countries have the finances necessary to invest in agriculture and nutrition programs? We cannot reach a post-aid-dependent world without curtailing illicit financial flows."



Liberal groups lobby for shell company bill


The Hill (Blog)

May 16, 2012

By Bernie Becker


More than three dozen groups are urging lawmakers to back a measure that looks to battle shell companies by requiring more transparency about their owners.


The groups, many of them left-leaning or good government outfits, told members of the House and the Senate that the legislation would give law enforcement officials more tools to track money and pull back the curtain on shell companies, allowing them to better combat terrorism and financial crimes.



Nonprofits, Businesses Call For End To Corporate Secrecy


The Wall Street Journal (Blog)

May 16, 2012

By Samuel Rubenfeld


A group of 41 businesses and nonprofits sent a letter to every member of Congress pressing them to pass legislation that would reveal the beneficial owners of shell companies.


The letter, signed by good government groups such as Oxfam America and Human Rights Watch as well as socially responsible investment firms Calvert Investments and Domini Social Investments LLC, pushes for lawmakers to pass a bill that would require companies to disclose their ultimate owners at the time of incorporation, making it more difficult for corruption to fester without notice in the U.S. through anonymous shell companies.



India better at curbing black money than peers


The Wall Street Journal (India)

May 16, 2012

By Sunil B.S.


Black money has always being a contentious issue in India, with no reliable estimates regarding its exact size. Global Financial Integrity, a research and advocacy organization working to curtail illicit financial flows out of developing countries, has pegged the losses on account of illicit financial flows due to tax evasion, crime and corruption at $462 billion since 1947.


The opposition parties have often cited these figures during parliamentary debates on the issue, and the government has taken various steps to fight the menace. One of these measures is incorporating the controversial General Anti Avoidance Rule (GAAR) in the Direct Taxes Code Bill to deal with aggressive tax planning devices that circumvent tax laws.



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