HOUSE PASSES ECONOMIC STIMULUS LEGISLATION
he U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a plan to give the U.S. economy a $146 billion election-year boost through tax rebates and other measures to stave off a possible recession by boosting business and consumer spending. The plan, which passed by a vote of 385-35 and is backed by President George W. Bush, includes tax rebates of up to $600 for individuals and $1,200 for married couples, plus $300 per child. The legislation also includes tax breaks to encourage business investment in new equipment.
DARLING ASKS FOR POWER TO SEIZE TROUBLED U.K. BANKS
Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government proposed measures to allow British authorities power to seize control and transfer accounts from failing banks to another lender.
PROGRESS MADE ON NEW TAX SYSTEM FOR ANTILLEAN ISLANDS
Significant progress has been made in discussions on a new fiscal scheme for the Netherland Antillean islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba after they attain a new constitutional status, it has been reported. According to the St. Maarten Daily Herald, the new tax system, financial markets and constitutional status as ‘ultra peripheral territories’ (UPT) were the subject of lengthy discussions between senior civil servants from the islands which took place on Monday.
LOFSA TARGETS 10% RISE IN OFFSHORE COMPANY REGISTRATION
Labuan Offshore Financial Services Authority (Lofsa) expects a 10% increase this year in the number of offshore companies registered on the island, boosted by its re-branding strategy, said its director-general Datuk Azizan Abdul Rahman. Currently, there are more than 6,000 international companies registered in Labuan, including 900 that are Malaysian-owned and more than 300 financial institutions. The island is host to 56 banks, 131 insurance and insurance-related companies, 99 leasing and 21 trust companies.
US TAX PLAN COULD DRIVE CAPTIVE INSURERS OFFSHORE
A proposed tax change by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service could drive more captive insurers offshore, benefiting the Cayman Islands and Bermuda and hurting Vermont and other U.S. states that have sought to snare a piece of the action, industry officials say. If approved, the proposal would eliminate the ability of U.S. based captive insurers — firms that insure their parent companies — to claim tax deductions for money set aside in reserves to pay for future claims and losses.
JAMAICA – “THE NEXT OFFSHORE HAVEN?”
After being sworn in as Jamaica’s prime minister last September, Bruce Golding announced his ambitious plans for this Caribbean island. Among Golding’s plans, he raised the possibility of the island becoming another offshore financial center. Perhaps P.M. Golding was gazing with envy at it nearest neighbor to the west, the Cayman Islands, and due south to Panama. So he noted: “There are other islands in the Caribbean that have done very well in their offshore activities and we believe that it is an area that Jamaica can secure benefits from.”
WHEN DIRTY MONEY AND SOLICITOR-CLIENT PRIVILEGE CLASH
Tax havens, money laundering and terrorist financing are all major economic concerns of developed countries. In Canada, we have the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCTFA), which requires various professions, such as accountants, to report suspicious “dirty-money” transactions and cross-border movements of currency and monetary instruments.
Â ISLAMIC FINANCE NEARING ‘CRITICAL MASS’
Islamic finance is approaching â€œcritical massâ€ in Dubai, the birthplace of banking with a Muslim twist, an international seminar here forecasting the industry for this year heard Wednesday. Addressing a business delegation that included FTSE Group, the yardstick for British stock markets â€“ the Group was here to announce its launch of an Islamic index â€“ Dubai International Financial Authorityâ€™s CEO, Nasser Al Shaali, said it took the emirate only three years to become the worldâ€™s â€œonly exportable model for regulating Islamic Financeâ€.
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AMENDMENTS TO GUERNSEYâ€™S LICENSE REGULATIONS
Guernsey regulators will have a closer look at applicants for licenses to operate an insurer, broker or captive manager under amendments to the islandâ€™s insurance laws. Amendments passed this month allow regulators to take into account any previous conduct and activities of persons applying to operate an insurance-related business. Previously, only conduct related to business or financial matters could be considered.
CZECH TAX UNCERTAINTIES DISCOURAGING DOMESTIC FIRMS FROM IPOS
Uncertainties in the Czech tax system along with the complexities of commercial law are discouraging domestic companies from listing on the Prague stock exchange, Czech news agency CTK cited the head of the exchange as saying.
UBS WRITE-DOWN FUELS BANKING FEARS
Investment banking giant UBS has raised the spectre of further credit crunch pain after warning its losses had spiralled to Â£9.3 billion. Just weeks before the UK’s “big five” banks begin reporting results, Swiss firm UBS unveiled a 16 billion Swiss franc (Â£7.4 billion) hit on US mortgage-based investments in the final three months of 2007. This followed a Â£1.9 billion write-down in the third quarter and puts UBS on course for an overall 4.4 billion Swiss franc (Â£2 billion) loss in 2007.
FIRM TO PAY $15 MILLION IN MONEY-LAUNDERING CASE
The California-based cash transfer company Sigue agreed Monday in federal court in St. Louis to pay $15 million for failing to provide effective money-laundering safeguards. Officials said the company violated the Bank Secrecy Act in helping clients send $24.7 million out of the country under suspicious circumstances. In an undercover sting which began in St. Louis, investigators posed as drug dealers at 83 Sigue locations in 22 states, seeking to send a total of $500,000 to suppliers in Mexico City.
BANK OF SCOTLAND LAUNCHES INTERNATIONAL PRIVATE BANKING SERVICE
Bank of Scotland International has launched a new International Private Banking service. The new service will offer completely bespoke offshore packages for individuals wanting to make the most of their tax status with financial advice and solutions built to suit each client’s unique circumstances.
LAWYER FACES 20 YEARS FOR ROLE IN MONEY LAUNDERING
A Newport Beach attorney has agreed to plead guilty to a federal money laundering charge Tuesday, according to federal prosecutors. Thomas Burton, 60, faces up to 20 years in federal prison for his role in a money-laundering scheme, according to prosecutors. Burton agreed to launder $500,000 for Daryl Ray Rice, who told Burton he had funds he needed to move from an overseas mail fraud scheme, prosecutors said. Unknown to Burton, Rice was working for the FBI and the conversations were recorded, according to prosecutors.