La Tribune : En s'associant à TheFamily, Facebook devient "le nouvel ami des entreprises"

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"Facebook décide donc de développer les start-ups repérées et choyées par TheFamily pour les faire migrer avec ses outils de développement sur ses plateformes. C’est un changement stratégique qui se confirme pour Facebook : si la société restait un simple réseau, elle était à plus ou moins long terme condamnée. En revanche si elle fait migrer les entreprises, les start-up comme celles du CAC 40, sur ses plateformes, elle peut gagner."

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GFI in Slate

Thanks to Chris Beam. Nice litle piece on tax havens! 

Monaco Is The New Switzerland

My Swiss Bank Got Busted. Where Do I Hide My Money Now? 

By Christopher Beam (Slate’s “The Explainer”)

The Swiss bank UBS agreed Wednesday to reveal the names of American clients suspected by the IRS of tax evasion. For years, Swiss banks have been famous for their secrecy. Where should you go to hide your money now?

Andorra, Liechtenstein, or Monaco.* Those are the three jurisdictions listed as “uncooperative tax havens” by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international group that tracks financial transparency. In other words, these are the countries whose banks are least likely to give out information about their clients, even if they’re involved in major crimes or terrorism. Dubai and Singapore have high levels of bank secrecy, too. Unlike, say, the United States, those countries allow you to set up accounts that hide the names of the real owners, using trustees as go-betweens 

Less secret but still shady are the 35 jurisdictions that are, according to the OECD, “committed to improving transparency” but that still have a long way to go—including the Bahamas, Belize, Cyprus, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, Netherlands Antilles, Panama, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These are “tax havens” where you can stash your money to avoid paying U.S. taxes but can’t keep your identity a secret. (In other words, not the best place to hide your blood money.)

 The legality of tax havens is tricky: Americans are required to report overseas income, and the United States has taken steps in the past year to crack down on people who open offshore bank accounts to evade taxes. But there are still loopholes. For example, if you start a business with a real physical presence in, say, the Cayman Islands, the United States isn’t entitled to tax payments. If, however, the investor ever wants to bring the money back to the United States, he has to pay taxes on it.

Even in shady countries, certain rules apply. Many of countries on the OECD’s list, such as Belize and Grenada, have anti-money-laundering laws. Some even have “tax information exchange agreements,” or treaties among nations whereby one country can request information about all its taxpayers from the other. For example, the United States has agreements with Guernsey, Jersey, Liechtenstein, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several others stipulating that if someone violates the partner country’s tax code using foreign banks, they will divulge their banking information.

The most popular “secret banks” tend to be the stable ones—which explains the reputation of Switzerland, with its near-zero inflation rate. But stability comes at a cost, since anyone with money in Swiss banks has to pay Swiss taxes. (Taxes in Switzerland are lower than in the United States, but higher than in, say, the Bahamas.) As for tax havens, insurance companies tend to have accounts in Bermuda, while hedge funds prefer the Cayman Islands—but that’s more a question of tradition than practicality.

Explainer thanks Raymond Baker of the Global Financial Integrity Project, Cornelius Hurley of Boston University, and Adam Rosenzweig of Washington University.

Press on GFI's first major report on illicit outflows

Debut Coverage of GFI’s report "Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2002-2006." Thanks to John Detrixhe…

Unrecorded Cash Flows Leaving Developing World Outpaces Aid

By John Detrixhe

    Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) — Unrecorded cash flows, often acquired

from corruption, crime and tax evasion or transferred illegally,

are leaving developing countries at a rate of about $10 for every

$1 of international aid, Global Financial Integrity said.

    Developing countries lost about $858.6 billion to $1.06

trillion in illicit or unrecorded money in 2006, the latest year

of its study, the Washington-based nonprofit organization said in

a report today.

    The GFI’s outflow estimates are conservative because they

don’t include smuggling, trade mispricing or mispriced asset

swaps, said GFI Director Raymond Baker.

    “Those are huge numbers,” Baker said in a telephone

interview. The GFI’s outflow estimate “does not include those

categories, which we would expect to include in future

analyses.”

    The flow of illicit money leaving developing countries

increased at a compounded rate of 18.2 percent each year between

2002 and 2006.

    Asia accounted for about half of the illicit money flowing

out of developing countries, the GFI said. Asia is the “dominant

region” for unrecorded cash leaving developing countries “due

to a large volume of illicit financial flows from mainland

China.”

    Europe, at approximately 17 percent, was second in overall

illicit cash flows from developing countries, the GFI said. The

Middle East and North Africa region and the Western Hemisphere

region each had about 15 percent of illicit outflows. Africa,

which the GFI said had incomplete data, contributed the smallest

share of outflows at about 3 percent.

rapid response, ghost writing, and my favorite press placement ever

GFI’s illicit financial flows report exploded on the scene when political opposition candidates got a hold of our numbers on India’s illicit capital flight. It was quickly apparent though, that much of our work was being misconstrued or misunderstood…after some rapid response oped writing and a bite from the Financial Times we put out the following

India shows us the curse of ‘black money’

By Raymond Baker
Financial Times
April 24, 2009
 
India’s opposition party leader L.K. Advani sparked a political conflagration with pre-election campaign remarks that India was losing tens of billions of dollars each year in illicit financial outflows, or “black money”. He asserted that the National Democratic Alliance would vigorously pursue recovery of these lost assets if voted into power. With the rolling election now in progress, the issue of India’s missing billions has grown progressively thornier, as both sides vie to take the moral high ground.

Whatever the outcome of the election, India’s problem has broader implications both for the developing world and for efforts by the Group of 20 developed and developing nations to craft an effective post-crisis economic plan for the global financial system. 

In his discussion of black money, Mr Advani cited our estimates of illicit capital flight, which suggest total illicit outflows from the developing world of $1,000bn (€766bn, £684bn) a year. India ranked fifth highest at $22bn-$27bn a year, coming in behind Russia ($32bn- $38bn), Mexico ($41bn-$46bn), Saudi Arabia ($54bn-$55bn) and China ($233bn-$289bn).

Mainland China’s massive outflows were predominantly the result of trade mispricing - a common practice whereby multinational corporations manipulate figures on commerce and earnings to minimise tax liabilities. A popular means of tax evasion for companies, trade mispricing is the driving force behind most of the illicit capital exiting developing countries.

Second-ranked Saudi Arabia and fourth-ranked Russia were exceptions to the trade mispricing rule because of their status as oil exporters, oil being difficult to misprice.

The proceeds of criminal activity, corruption and corporate tax evasion, these flows are clandestine in nature and usually end up in financial centres featuring low regulation and high secrecy. This makes it tricky to study illicit financial flows.

India is the latest of several nations to raise the alarm about illicit capital flight. Following high-profile scandals involving Liechtenstein and Switzerland, the Group of 20 nations has demanded greater co-operation in tackling the shadow financial system. Made up of tax havens, jurisdictions allowing secrecy, disguised corporations, anonymous trust accounts, fake foundations and assorted money-laundering mechanisms, it is designed to move money and obscure its sources.

What have thus far remained absent are the concrete reforms needed to dismantle this shadowy network and enforce greater transparency and accountability in the global financial system. The G20 is poised to accept the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development standard for exchange of tax information, a well-meaning but weak approach to the problem. While the much-publicised post-G20 arrangements by several havens to sign tax information exchange agreements are welcomed, these agreements are extraordinarily cumbersome. The onus remains on the requesting nation to prove that the information sought is “foreseeably relevant” to suspected crime or tax evasion. Furthermore, havens and jurisdictions supporting secrecy are not required to provide information they do not normally collect. Under the OECD standard, all elements of the global shadow financial system can remain in place.

What needs to happen now is for the G20 to broaden its dialogue on information exchange agreements, inter­national co-operation and international financial protocols. Most effective in curtailing the massive illicit outflows from developing countries would be a requirement for automatic cross-border exchange of tax information on personal and business accounts and country-by-country reporting of sales, profits and taxes paid by multinationals.

As world leaders and high-level stakeholders meet this weekend in Washington, the question of India’s black money should be considered as a sign of what lies ahead. The global recession is expected to have a severe impact on developing economies and undo years of poverty alleviation efforts and economic gains. The desire to offset this predicted impact is sincere. But until efforts are made to dismantle the shadow financial system and mandate more co-operative and rigorous reporting, success will remain as elusive as India’s missing black money.

India has shown that this issue resonates with voters. Politicians in other developing country democracies would be wise to take note.

The writer is director of Global Financial Integrity

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One of Spain’s largest newspapers:

A study by Global Financial Integrity, headed Raymond Baker, concluded that only in Africa illicit flows between 1970 and 2008 amounted to 854,000 million dollars. Most disturbing is growing at a rate of 11%. Baker notes that this figure would eliminate the entire debt of Africa and devote the remaining 600,000 million to alleviate poverty and promote growth.

The best part of this was not:

1. The 300 Euro stipend (my first commissioned article!)

2. The generous, feature-length, 2,400 word allotment 

3. Getting to put my name on it

No. It was SEEING THIS MAGAZINE in the newstand at Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport while on travel in Peru. 

Raymond Baker in HuffPo

The U.S. FCPA stood virtually alone on the global stage in the fight against corruption until the late 1990s, when other nations began adopting similar prohibitions. Today, the FCPA is buttressed by theUN Convention Against Corruption, a similar document binding members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, regional commitments, and a significant focus on the issue by the G20.

Global Financial Integrity director, Raymond Baker, weighs in on attempts to weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the nation’s flagship anti-corruption legislation. 

Read the full piece at HuffingtonPost