Tag Archive: tax evasion


Get It Yet?  Americans Being Taken to the Cleaners by Big Corporations and Banks, and It’s Legal…. In Europe!

 

It just keeps getting worse.  Any day, check the articles popping in mainstream media as well as the Internet about financial intrigue and crime.  Missing money, (bailout or not), missing estates, missing retirement accounts, you name it, it’s been happening.  As the operations of the ruthless and greedy, (in this wild-west economic time we are in),  break out of the shadows, we all wonder, how could this have happened? After all, we have laws to protect people in the U.S. don’t we? 

Below is the introductory article written by author, Shelley A. Stark, about an secret banking institution called Hidden Treuhand, and a recent follow up article regarding the same.

   Since the preliminary article in August of 2008, Ms. Stark’s book has been published and is now available.  Copies have been going fast.  Last night Amazon had only three left.  If you delay, you’ll have to wait for the next printing.

 This book will open your eyes to the drama that has been going on out of sight and frankly for most American’s below our radar.  Ignorance is NOT bliss!  It is a must read for everyone, but in particular federal oversight employees, ALL federal oversight employees.  -GFS

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Halliburton’s Hidden Treuhand

Monday 11 August 2008

by: Shelley Stark, t r u t h o u t | Report
Vanity Fair reported shipments of over $12 billion in cash to Iraq. $9 billion of the cash is gone and unaccounted for. (Photo: The Village Voice)

Halliburton takes advantage of a European loophole that lets corporations hide beneficiaries and assets.

    Little is known of a customary European legal practice that offers corporations and individuals an opportunity to profit from assets while maintaining complete anonymity of the beneficiary’s identity. This practice is referred to as “Hidden Treuhand” in the English language. The practice of Hidden Treuhand submits to legal local customs in Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg and Switzerland, but due to globalization, has moved beyond European borders via corporations and individuals, who put it to personal use.

    The practice of Hidden Treuhand is relevant and unregulated. More and more, the relevant practice of Treuhand is used in hiding an asset owner’s identity from the outside world. Assets, whether they are corporate shares or fixed assets, can be owned in secret. The personal income derived from these assets can also be kept secret from tax authorities. An example of how Hidden Treuhand facilitates tax evasion is part of the latest scandal where thousands of Germans evaded tax through the services of the LGT Treuhand Bank in Liechtenstein, using a combination of Treuhand and foundations to hide true owner identity of bank accounts.

    Hidden Treuhands in Europe impact the lives of American citizens. Hidden Treuhands enable even American corporations to hide the identity of beneficiaries, assets and income. Halliburton has a Hidden Treuhand embedded in its Austrian subsidiary. It prevents transparency regarding corporate activities.

    The lack of transparency creates special advantages for some, and consequences for others such as governments, competitors, stockholders and citizens. For example, a beneficiary can evade personal income tax, because the income derived from a hidden asset is not linked to the beneficiary. There is another advantage to Hidden Treuhands that borrows from the concept of a “trust.” The “trust” concept allows for dividends to be removed. Money transferred to a subsidiary may be considered a dividend. By using a network of subsidiaries, favorable tax laws and banking secrecy, CEOs and insiders can profit without transparency. The Hidden Treuhand is an important aspect of what makes globalization so attractive to American and European corporations.

    Given these attributes, it is alarming when a Hidden Treuhand is discovered in a subsidiary that is fully owned by Halliburton USA. Halliburton’s Hidden Treuhand is evident in the firm’s corporate records. Halliburton International GmbH was created in Austria in June of 1992, although another subsidiary, at the same address, was in existence in Austria since 1958. The new subsidiary, Halliburton International GmbH, has no apparent reasons for existing other than to house a Hidden Treuhand in its corporate structure, receive dividends from other subsidiaries and acquire other subsidiaries. This firm has no employees. It creates no income. Another company, Halliburton Company Austria GmbH, at the same address, could have equally performed whatever function this subsidiary has, but it has no Hidden Treuhand. The obvious conclusion is Halliburton USA needed a subsidiary with a Hidden Treuhand.

    The Hidden Treuhand easily accomplishes tax evasion because dividends transferred to a subsidiary with a Hidden Treuhand can be anonymously distributed or used to purchase other holdings. For example, Halliburton International GmbH has acquired acquisitions in Russia and Kazakhstan that later disappear from the corporate records.

    Halliburton attracts a certain limelight in connection with any Treuhand activities because of its link to a highly controversial war and Vice President Dick Cheney’s earlier association with Halliburton. We would have expected all ties to his former employer to be have been severed when he took office to avoid a conflict of interest. The impenetrability of the Hidden Treuhand makes it impossible to know who else is involved beyond the CEOs listed on Halliburton International GmbH historic corporate data.

    Dick Cheney claims to no longer own stock in Halliburton, but he was its chairman and CEO for five years, and either hired or promoted many of the executives now running Halliburton, or formerly involved with the subsidiary with the Hidden Treuhand in Austria. It is highly unlikely the chief executive officer, Dick Cheney, would be unaware of the Austrian subsidiary’s existence, originally headed by the executive vice president and chief legal officer, Lester L. Coleman, of Halliburton International USA. But it is an absolute certainty Lester L. Coleman and all the other CEOs listed on Halliburton International GmbH corporate historic records do know of the subsidiaries existence and its Hidden Treuhand. It was the intention of these CEOs to set up a secret subsidiary in 1992 with a Hidden Treuhand embedded.

    Perhaps more importantly, Halliburton’s CEOs, listed in the corporate historic records of Halliburton International GmbH in Austria, should know Hidden Treuhands could be used to undermine American security by providing a means for financing terrorists. Currently, one of the strongest arguments the US and the OECD are using against banks, lawyers and Treuhand activities in Europe to combat tax evasion and money laundering is how these activities can be used to fund terrorism. The Iraq War is one portion of the overall strategy of the ‘War on Terror’ that also includes preventing any funding for terrorism. It takes little imagination to see the huge potential Treuhands facilitate: creating a means for terrorists and criminal organizations to conceal their true identities and motives and yet work openly in the capitalist system.

    Halliburton’s CEOs must be aware of the potential misuse of Hidden Treuhands, as they have not been particularly open about their own use of Hidden Treuhands to date. Halliburton simultaneously contracts to fight a “war on terror,” while utilizing the same nontransparent mechanisms concerned authorities seek to prevent access to by terrorists. Faced with a conflict of interest, Halliburton CEOs demonstrate with their silence a willingness to protect their own interests, and doing so while we are at war with an enemy that works in the shadows.

    The noncompetitive contract awarded Halliburton was orchestrated by Vice President Dick Cheney and backed by the Bush administration. This contract has afforded an estimated US$1.4 trillion to US$3 trillion of US taxpayer money to flow through the coffers of Halliburton, virtually unmonitored and fraught with accounting irregularities. The receiver of much of this US taxpayer money is Halliburton USA, its affiliates and subsidiaries. One of the subsidiaries, the Austrian subsidiary, is capable of dispersing any money sent to it to unknown persons, without a hint of transparency.

    The Hidden Treuhand is more than just a means of profiting without transparency; it is a national security threat, whether wielded by al-Qaeda or Halliburton. If Americans were brought into a war based on a profit motive while we were supposed to be focused on alleviating the threat of terrorism, it could amount to treason. This risk should be given some credence and investigated. For this reason, Halliburton’s corporate records were given to the US Internal Revenue Service. Maybe they will find something illegal, tax evasion for example, or maybe they will come back and say they found nothing illegal: The Hidden Treuhand is just a little bit naughty.

    There is no transparency to a Hidden Treuhand, and, therefore, no means to identify the real benefactors. But the most important factor concerning a Treuhand contract is this: If a Treuhand contract is embedded in the corporate structure, then its sole purpose is to prevent the public from knowing the identity of the real stockholders. Who is calling the shots and who is benefiting is kept secret.

    The “True Hands,” the true benefactors’ identity, is hidden from public knowledge; they remain anonymous and nameless in transactions, and that is the sole incentive for creating a Hidden Treuhand.

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    Shelley Stark is the author of  “The Hidden Treuhand: How Corporations and Individuals Hide Assets and Money,” now available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com.

 

 

In the Age of Stealth Wealth – Bank Secrecy is Alive and Well!

Written by Shelley Stark author of: Hidden Treuhand: How Corporations and Individuals Hide Assets and Money 

Bank Secrecy Bites the Dust in Europe”- Newsweek. “Switzerland, Luxembourg, Austria Loosen Secrecy Rules” – Bloomberg. “Tax Havens Give in to EU Pressure” – Spiegel ONLINE.

Has banking secrecy finally come to an end? This is what newspapers are unanimously saying. Is it true or should these headlines be punctuated with a question mark? Well, once again Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, and Belgium too are in the spotlight for their bank secrecy rules. There have been strong words emanating from the international community in the past and they produced little, or we would not be entertaining headlines such as these today. 

Changes to bank secrecy have come along way since the day of the anonymous savings book (‘Sparbuch’ in the German language). On January 1st 1994 some provisions concerning banking secrecy were partly amended in response to concerns of money laundering, but these provisions were largely undertaken on a voluntary basis by each bank. Up until this time, one could simply show up at the bank with $10 or $10 million dollars, and put it in anonymous savings account.  It was anonymous because you didn’t have to show any identification. The bank account was identified by a secret password, which the owner of the account assigned to the savings book and was subsequently registered in the bank. To get the money, you would have to show up at the bank with the savings book and give the secret password. This means in reality, to make a pay-off as seen in spy-thrillers, nobody needed to run around with suitcases of money. One could simply make a pay-off by handing over the savings book with the password and the recipient could visit his money at leisure. The new account holder could change the password to afford more security, but as longs as he had the savings book and the password, the money was safe and the old owner could not obtain these funds. Of course, this also meant if the savings book was lost or the password forgotten, then no one could access the money. The password account is much like its Swiss cousin the numbered account. The concept of the number and the password account originated when Hitler sought to stem the flow of money seeking a safe haven in Switzerland and in Austria. The capital exodus began due to inflation, but later due to Nazi persecution of Jewish citizens, it was feared that Hitler would try to force the Swiss to reveal Jewish accounts. By giving out numbers, the Swiss bank could claim not to know whom the account belonged to. In Austria, the practice became passwords. 

In 1995, Austria became a member of the European Union. Many of the earlier voluntary duties became law so that by November 1st 2000 the ability to open anonymous accounts was finally ended and no payments or withdrawals could be made to existing accounts unless the bank identified the identity of the savings account holder and money laundering was finally rendered a criminal offence. Tax evasion on the other hand, the concealing of income and not falsifying any documents, is merely a civil offense, not unlike a traffic violation. In addition, as of January 1st 2000 any cash transaction over €15,000 with a customer that didn’t have an ongoing relationship with the bank or was wired to the bank from offshore, needed to register their identity with the bank. These changes were brought about as the result of a European Council Directive to prevent the financial system from being used to launder money.  As a result of these amendments to the banking law, the European Commission withdrew its complaints against the Republic of Austria.                                           

The story regarding Switzerland and Liechtenstein is slightly rockier. German federal investigators paid €5 million to a former bank employee of the Liechtenstein Große Treuhand bank (LGT). The employee, Heinrich Kieber, is alleged to have removed the secret bank data from the LGT bank, thus kicking off a row over tax evasion in the EU. Before the dust settled, U.S. investigators charged Switzerland’s UBS bank for deliberately encouraging American citizens to engage in tax fraud activities. The Swiss have always attracted a certain limelight regarding chocolate, cheese, cuckoo clocks, and banking secrecy – a financial business model that attracts an estimated $1.84 trillion in assets of which about €450 billion belong to private customers. In Switzerland, the hoopla began when the bank was found to have offered tax evasion tactics to Americans that were invented by auditors at KPMG, who only managed to avoid criminal prosecution when they paid up $456 million in fines and penalties. The UBS bank was ordered to pay $780 million, and then they did the unthinkable, they handed over the names of 300 customers after the U.S. government produced strong evidence of tax evasion. The U.S. authorities are still seeking the names of an estimated 52,000 Americans with secretive UBS accounts.

According to mainstream press, these events are what have sparked the U.S., British, and German push for an ‘end’ of banking secrecy and prompted bankers from Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein to hoist their skirts and run for cover. Baa-humbug!

Firstly, tax evasion is not a criminal offense in any of these countries currently being hounded for their bank secrecy laws and for the most part bank secrecy is federal and constitutional law in these countries.

Basically the international community has pushed these European tax havens to accept Article 26 of the OECD Model Tax Convention on Income and Capital. Article 26 creates an obligation to exchange information, but the contracting state is not at liberty to engage on a “fishing expedition”. The contracting country must firstly show evidence of tax evasion, can only request information that is relevant to the tax affairs of a given taxpayer, must demonstrate the foreseeable relevance of the requested information, and prove to have pursued all domestic means to access such information. As of yet, it is unclear just how much tax evasion evidence even need be presented.

Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland were opposed to the current version of Article 26, last updated on July 17, 2008, but since March 2009 each of these countries has notified the OECD that they are withdrawing their reservation to Article 26. They now believe that bank secrecy is not incompatible with the requirements of Article 26. And with little wonder, because the particulars of Article 26 are easily circumvented with a legal phenomenon called ‘Hidden Treuhand’.

Hidden Treuhand is a customary practice in Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, and even Germany. Due to globalization, it has transcended its national borders to impact industry, commerce, and banking worldwide. It is key to creating shell companies, foundations, and bank accounts where the real owner identity is hidden and cannot be exposed by any legal means. A Hidden Treuhand creates conditions where a lawyer conducts the duties required of him on behalf and in the interest of the client, but all business actions appear to be in the name of the lawyer. The real beneficial owner remains unknown. This construct can be liberally applied to stock in corporations, foundations, real estate, patent and copyrights, financial instruments such as derivatives and bonds, and of course, cash.

In 2000, some aspects of banking secrecy came to an end, but the Hidden Treuhand is frequently used to close the gap that those transparency laws were supposed to fill. In essence, the Hidden Treuhand is somewhat like a hidden trust, but legally it and the environment in which it functions, can achieve far more than is presently realized. Hidden Treuhand hides the beneficial owner of any asset and that includes bank accounts. Hidden Treuhand, when combined with banking secrecy, hides profits beyond the reach of tax investigations and governments. It’s like missile shield for money – nothing gets past this protective barrier.

Article 26 of the OECD MODEL TAX CONVENTION ON INCOME AND CAPITAL concerns the exchange of information between Contracting States. Hidden Treuhand is the creation of customary practice, but it is not regulated and there are no laws in existence that could be equated as regulatory. The following Hidden Treuhand provisions are quoted from law books referring to customary practice and illustrate how each of the OECD provisions is rendered mute. Compare the inherent capabilities of Hidden Treuhand with text of Article 26 where it states that none of the following provisions shall be construed so as to impose the obligation to:

OECD: to carry out administrative measures at variance with the laws and administrative practice of that or of the other Contracting State;

Hidden Treuhand: “What makes a Treuhand contract so special and unique under Austrian Law is that there is no special law regulating Treuhand contracts…there is no regulation of Treuhand contracts under Austrian Civil Law, and there are not any laws that could be equated as regulatory.” 

OECD: to supply information which is not obtainable under the laws or in the normal course of the administration of that or of the other Contracting State;

Hidden Treuhand: “It is not to be expressed that any direct legal relationship or connection exists between the businessmen and the lawyer. In fact, the lawyer would be guilty of misconduct should the lawyer reveal that a legal relationship (power of attorney) exists between himself and the client”.  

OECD: to supply information which would disclose any trade, business, industrial commercial or professional secret or trade process, or information the disclosure of which would be contrary to public policy (ordre public).

Hidden Treuhand: “When using a Hidden Treuhand, trustees are referred to as a Straw Man. A trustee functions like a Straw Man and acts in the name of the client who remains undeclared in the background. The relationship between the businessman and the lawyer is secret, which often includes even knowledge of a ‘power of attorney’ existing between the lawyer and the businessman”

When it comes to Hidden Treuhand, lawyers exploit attorney client privilege and claim it their legal duty to deny information and to keep all matters pertaining to their client confidential. No one, no court or authority, no government, can force an attorney to reveal any secrets concerning his client. And what of banking or bank accounts?  

The EU and international money laundering laws have striven to eliminate any criminal elements from the banking system, but Hidden Treuhand works within the law and in the banking system. Hidden Treuhand bank accounts are not made public because only the trustee is entitled to use the account, and there is no legal relationship between the client and the bank account. A lawyer lets the bank know that an account is a trust account, but does not have to disclose the name of the beneficiary. A Treuhand account means a banking relationship exists between the bank and the trustee and the bank is not entitled to know whom the lawyer represents anymore than anyone else.

“According to leading banks, designating an account as a Treuhand account alters nothing. The true account beneficiary remains a secret because only the trustee is authorized to use the account and there is no legal relationship between the client and the ‘special account’. The clients’ identity is not exposed when making bank transactions because it is the trustee’s responsibility to make money transfers from this ‘special lawyer trust account’ (Anderkonto)”.

As result of the crackdown against tax havens, more clients will have to resort to Hidden Treuhand and lawyers services. Already Liechtenstein has sold its Treuhand services to a separate company, quite possible even to itself via Hidden Treuhand. Their business model will no doubt resemble the Austrian one where the registration of foundations and Hidden Treuhand is separate from bank institutions. If foreign tax authorities manage the first hurdle and can provide strong evidence of tax evasion and seek further information regarding bank accounts they will firstly have to petition the cooperation of the Ministry of Finance. The ministry will ask the banks, but to what end? The bank cannot tell them what they do not know.  

So much for the grandiose announcement heralding the end of bank secrecy and tax havens!

Many large-cap US corporations have headquarters or subsidiaries based in tax havens. For example: McDonalds recently moved to Switzerland. Moreover, it is possible for a hedge fund to own an offshore bank. For example: the highly secretive hedge fund Cerberus owns Bawag, an Austrian bank, as well as a majority shareholder stake in Chrysler and GMAC. If questioned, would Bawag reveal information regarding any accounts held by a stakeholder of Cerberus?

Just how big is the offshore banking industry? The OECD estimates that assets held by the offshore banking industry might be as high as $11.5 trillion. Little wonder U.S. banks are having trouble lending money and no big surprise the European legal community claims to have no objection to Article 26.

Bank secrecy is alive and well! No question mark necessary. It just got a bit more expensive and devious. It is high time someone made the announcement: we have officially entered the ‘Age of Stealth Wealth’!

To learn more about Hidden Treuhand and what role it is playing in the financial crisis, bank secrecy, bailouts, globalization, the privatization of Iraq, and your financial security, please read: Hidden Treuhand: How Corporations and Individuals Hide Assets and Money

Available direct from publisher and Amazon and Barnes and Noble

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U.S., Swiss nail deal on secret bank accounts

Agreement reached, but no details have been released

Link:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32386100/ns/business-world_business

MIAMI – The Swiss and U.S. governments announced a deal Wednesday to settle American demands for the identities of suspected tax dodgers, despite Switzerland’s vaunted bank secrecy. But they kept all details under wraps, including how many of the 52,000 names sought by the IRS from banking giant UBS AG will be revealed.

Depending on the scale of the deal, it could be a new blow to Switzerland’s reputation as a safe place to hide assets from the tax man back home.

Switzerland has long been under pressure from European neighbors and the U.S. to open its bank records for foreign tax authorities. The IRS case against UBS has been partly credited with pushing the Swiss government to agree in March to comply with tax investigation rules from the 30-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. UBS earlier this year named about 300 American clients in a separate case.


William Sharp, a Florida tax lawyer who represents American UBS clients, said he expects the agreement to allow Swiss authorities to interpret bank secrecy laws more broadly and allow a “substantial handover” of names.

“I would guess that the U.S. would not enter into this agreement in the absence of a major fine and penalty without having at least several hundred if not thousands of names turned over,” Sharp said.

The IRS in February asked U.S. District Judge Alan S. Gold in Miami to force Zurich-based UBS to turn over names of some 52,000 American clients believed to be hiding nearly $15 billion in assets in secret accounts. UBS and the Swiss government had resisted, arguing that to do so would violate Swiss banking confidentiality laws that date back centuries.

The Swiss and U.S. governments announced in late July they had agreed in principle on major issues but released no details. They had hoped to present a final deal at a hearing Aug. 7, but resolving the differences took longer.

On Wednesday, lawyers for the U.S. and UBS told the judge in a brief conference call they had sealed the deal.

“The parties have initialed agreements. It will take a little time for the agreements to be signed in final form,” Justice Department lawyer Stuart Gibson told the judge.

IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said the deal “protects the United States government’s interests.” Shulman’s two-sentence statement added only that more details will be released when the Swiss government signs the agreement as early as next week.

UBS and the Swiss government also welcomed the news and said no terms would be disclosed until it is signed. Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the agreement “is in the interests of both states.”

The Swiss government got involved in the negotiations because the case goes to the heart of the country’s legally enshrined banking secrecy.

Swiss banks hold an estimated $2 trillion of foreign money, and financial services add about 12 percent of GDP to the national economy. According to the Boston Consulting Group, those holdings amount to one-fourth of the world’s foreign-owned assets.

Raymond Baker, director of Global Financial Integrity, an organization that works to end illegal international money transfers and improve transparency, has been following the case closely. He said the deal may waive bank secrecy for some but not all clients and that it is too soon to guess how many names might be revealed.

“It will be curious to see whether in the UBS settlement there were other negotiations that might have effects on other banks,” Baker said, saying it was possible other Swiss banks might be required to disclose more information.

The U.S. and Switzerland in January agreed to increase the amount of tax information they share to help crack down on tax evasion. The details of that agreement, which have also not been revealed, could have an effect on what banks have to disclose.

UBS paid a $780 million penalty earlier this year and turned over names of about 300 American clients in a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department. In that case, UBS admitted helping U.S. citizens evade taxes, which experts say is not a violation of Swiss bank secrecy laws.

So far, three UBS customers whose names were divulged under the prior agreement have pleaded guilty to tax charges in federal court. Hundreds of others holders of secret accounts at UBS and other Swiss banks have voluntarily come forward to the IRS under an amnesty program that requires payment of taxes and penalties but generally does not include the threat of prison.

That amnesty program ends Sept. 23.

News of the agreement has had an immediate effect at tax lawyer Sharp’s office: “Our phone has been ringing off the hook since this morning. Clients recognize that voluntary disclosure is the only way to avoid the risk of being turned over,” he said.

New York-listed shares in UBS were trading nearly 4 percent higher at $15.25.

July 31, 2009 – 3:33 PM

Switzerland and US reach UBS tax agreement

The governments of Switzerland and the United States have reached an agreement in principle on the major issues in their tax evasion dispute involving Swiss bank UBS.

US district judge Alan Gold agreed to cancel a trial that was supposed to begin on Monday into a demand for the confidential information of 52,000 UBS clients.

Gold had already delayed the case three weeks to allow all parties to reach an out-of-court settlement.

“I’m reporting to the court that the parties have reached an agreement in principle on the major issues. There are some other issues that need to get resolved and we expect to be able to resolve them during the coming week,” Stuart Gibson from the US justice department said on Friday.

“The parties ask the court to continue the hearing until August 10 and to schedule another phone status conference for next Friday, August 7, at which we hope to report a final agreement.”

The US authorities earlier this year demanded the confidential UBS client data after the Swiss bank admitted some of its employees had actively helped US citizens illegally evade taxes.

But the Swiss government maintains that this would break banking secrecy laws and has vowed to prevent such a transfer of information.

UBS already paid a $780 million (SFr845 million) fine in February and handed over the details of around 250 clients, but final prosecution was deferred.

Reaction

Martin Naville, CEO of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the agreement.

“It’s extremely important, first for UBS and the banking system and the world economy because UBS plays such a crucial part that any destabilisation of UBS would be really negative,” he told swissinfo.ch.

“Second, because without such an agreement the otherwise excellent relationship could take a real hit. It could somehow have dire consequences on the double taxation agreement, the tax haven legislation and so on.”

Switzerland’s financial regulatory body, Finma, also reacted positively.

“It’s important that the dispute could be settled out of court,” said Finma spokesman Tobias Lux, who declined to make further comment while the details remained unknown.

Market analysts have been waiting expectantly for a conclusion to the case, with uncertainty dragging down UBS business. The bank has suffered major withdrawals from its prize wealth-management business as rich clients baulk at the idea of their details being handed over to tax authorities.

UBS shares shot up around five per cent after the announcement to SFr15.94 ($14.92) before closing the day at SFr15.61.

“Very satisfied”

The news comes on the same day that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey met in Washington.

In brief remarks to reporters at the State Department, Clinton and Calmy-Rey expressed pleasure at the announced agreement in Miami.

“There’s been an agreement in principle,” Clinton said, offering no details. “Our governments have worked very hard on this to reach this point,” she said.

Calmy-Rey said she was “very satisfied” and “relieved” with the agreement but did not elaborate.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

BANKING SECRECY

UBS AND THE USOn May 14, 2008, former UBS employee Bradley Birkenfeld and a Liechtenstein businessman were charged by the US authorities with helping an American billionaire avoid paying taxes on $200 million of assets deposited in Swiss and Liechtenstein bank accounts.

Birkenfeld turned whistleblower, giving details of UBS private banking practices to US prosecutors.

In July, a Miami court authorised the Internal Revenue Service to issue a summons on UBS demanding the release of confidential information on clients the agency suspected of tax evasion.

In the same month, UBS told a congressional hearing that it would stop offshore banking activities for US clients.

UBS agreed to pay $780 million and name some United States clients to resolve criminal fraud charges against it. 




 

URL of this story:http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swissinfo.html?siteSect=105&sid=11022185&ty=st

Upon reading Shelley A. Stark’s, Hidden Treuhand:  How Corporations and Individuals Hide Assets and Money, my first response was of shock and disbelief.  Then the anger and outrage emerged.  It is clear Shelly Stark is a courageous Whistleblower.  She has dared to expose an organized and secret system of hiding money and assets that has been going on for a long period of history but, that few average people know exists. 

What Ms. Stark is writing about has been a very closely guarded secret prior to now.  Due to becoming aware of the Hidden Treuhand, because of being victimized by its use on her by some business partners, Ms. Stark started what turned out to be five years of hard investigation and research to find out what had happened to her business partnership.  It was not an easily solved mystery.  Fortuitously, Ms. Stark has the economic education, training, intellect, and courage to have tackled this previously secret strategy,  which large corporations and wealthy individuals have known about and had access to utilize in the shadows of our economic world  for a long time.  Her work required copious amounts of research into the history of the practice of Treuhands, hidden or not, and translating masses of German/Austrian law records to get an historical perspective and meaningful understanding of its contemporary impact on our financial  lives. 

In her book, Stark explains that this type of financial and legal strategy is not legal in the U.S., but is legal in certain countries in Europe (Austria, Lichtenstein, Switzerland) and is spreading to other regions (Dubai) making it possible for a lot of manipulation and corrupt dealings to take place, with the public having no inkling it is happening to their money and assets.  She explains how it is possible for a corporation or certain officers of a corporation to hide money, assets, and even people and other money payoffs to people using these Hidden Treuhands, potentially keeping the Hidden Treuhand and everything put into it, secret even from their own board of directors. 

 It appears that using a Hidden Treuhand, Corporations and the wealthy can now thwart any current U.S. government oversight activity, including laws or federal policies.  (Think about former Vice President, Dick Cheney and his conflict of interest in and financial benefits from Halliburton.  How was he able to evade accountability to even current federal laws regarding conflict of interest, quid pro quo, and revolving door prohibitions?    Halliburton coincidentally has moved its headquarters recently to Dubai.  Perhaps, now we know why.)

Recently an article in the Washington Post presented the concept of a new proposed Financial Protection Agency.  If the U.S. Government is going to tackle protecting Americans’ financial matters, they will have to include the problem of Hidden Treuhand, for what are becoming increasingly obvious reasons.  The corrupt and unethical business practices are not just an isolated American problem, but expand across the globe.

Due to the complicated financial dealings leading to our recent financial meltdown of the “Too Big to Fails” our pensions and 401 K’s are already at risk.  Think about Madoff and the huge sums he stole from the retirement accounts of Americans either directly or indirectly.  If Madoff used a Hidden Treuhand, there is little hope all those millions of dollars will ever be openly discovered and identified, let alone recovered.   

I don’t know about you, but the possibility of my retirement funds being siphoned off and shuffled around in secret hidden corporate accounts that no one can see or audit and that I will never see again is enough to get me writing letters and demanding change.  For anyone concerned about the safety and security of American consumers and their financial affairs, this book is a must read!   In fact, this book should immediately be required reading for all U.S. Federal Oversight authorities too.

 

The Shadow of “Hidden Treuhand” on Oversight, even the proposed Financial Protection Agency:  Can we be protected from the invisible?

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Shelley A. Stark has written a book, Hidden Treuhand:  How Corporations and Individuals Hide Assets and Money.  Shelly Stark is a Whistleblower.  She has dared to expose an organized and secret system of hiding money and assets that has been going on to some degree for a long period of history, but that few average people know exists.  What Ms. Stark is writing about has been a very closely guarded secret prior to now.  Due to becoming aware of the Hidden Treuhand, because of being victimized by its use on herself by some business partners, Ms. Stark started what turned out to be five years of hard investigation and research to find out what had happened to her.   Ms. Stark has the economic education and training, intellect, and courage to have tackled this previously secret resource which large corporations and wealthy individuals have known about and had access to for a long time.  Her work also required copious amounts of research into the history of the practice of Treuhands, hidden or not, and translating masses of German/Austrian law records. 

 

I began communicating with Ms. Stark a few months ago, and I am happy to say her book is now on the shelves of bookstores and is available at Amazon.com.  I believe Americans will be most interested in this book.  It is a huge piece of the problem we are having holding corporations or individuals accountable to our laws.  I believe it is a key issue in most areas we’re now experiencing financial corruption and fraud.  I am sending you the article from the Washington Post I read today regarding the idea of a new Financial Protection Agency and my comments pointing out there is even more to worry about than they think.  I believe it is very important to make knowlege of the Hidden Treuhand, how it works, and how some entities are using it, widespread among American citizens.  If the U.S. Government is going to tackle protecting Americans’ financial matters, they will have to include the problem of Hidden Treuhands.  Shelly Stark’s book is a welcome start to your foray into this newly realized area of criminal activity ( in the U.S.) and legal but unethical activity ( in Austria, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Dubai and others)

 

G. Florence Scott

 

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From The Washington Post

 

Link to Original:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/16/AR2009071604078.html?wpisrc=newsletter&wpisrc=newsletter&wpisrc=newsletter

 

 

Consumer Groups Praise Idea of Financial Protection Agency

By Brady Dennis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 17, 2009

The Obama administration’s push to create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, the subject of sharp criticism from many in the financial and business world, found a chorus of support on Capitol Hill yesterday as consumer advocates praised the proposal in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee.

“It targets the most significant underlying causes of the massive regulatory failures that have harmed millions of Americans,” said Travis Plunkett, legislative director for the Consumer Federation of America.

The administration envisions a new agency with broad powers to oversee a range of financial products, from mortgages to credit cards. The idea is to help safeguard Americans against deceptive and abusive lending practices that contributed to the current crisis.

But the proposal has encountered stiff resistance from financial and business interests, most recently on Wednesday, when critics told the same House panel that a new agency would add another layer of government regulation, increase costs, stifle innovation and curtail choices for consumers.

Consumer advocates yesterday could not have disagreed more.

“They’ve offered an elaborate defense of the status quo,” Plunkett said.

Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, compared the need to regulate financial products to regulation of other consumer products.

“We regulate toasters to make sure they don’t catch fire. We’re not banning toasters,” he said. “We’re simply saying they have to be safe.”

Mierzwinski, Plunkett and others are part of a sizeable coalition that has formed to fight financial industry groups and others whom they regard as trying to undermine the administration’s efforts to overhaul the current regulatory system. The alliance, which calls itself Americans for Financial Reform, includes a collection of nearly 200 consumer, labor and civil rights organizations. It has created a Web site, OurFinancialSecurity.org, and has undertaken aggressive outreach to try to persuade lawmakers and boost grass-roots support.

Earlier this week, the coalition staged protests at banks and local chambers of commerce across the country to support the new consumer agency.

And yesterday its members took their message back to Capitol Hill.

Consumer protection failures are “very much the root of the crisis we find ourselves in today,” said Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. “When regulators are financially dependent on the institutions they police, consumer interests will always be squeezed out.” The proposed new agency, she said, “will break this pattern.”

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Comment: 

Yes, things have reached such a state that I believe something very definite must be done to stop the corruption and ill use of the American public’s finances and economic future.   It is abundantly clear that industry cannot police itself and that ethics are in a real crisis in government and industry.  

 

Sadly, the problems described in Mr. Dennis’s article only scratch the surface of the economic swamp.  A new book on a venerable and growing secret financial strategy, the Hidden Treuhand has just been made visible by Shelley A. Stark.   Her book, Hidden Treuhand: How Corporations and Individuals Hide Assets and Money, is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other booksellers.   

 

In her book, Stark explains that this type of financial and legal strategy is not legal in the U.S., but is legal in certain countries in Europe (Austria, Lichtenstein, Switzerland) and is spreading to other regions (Dubai) making it possible for a lot of manipulation and corrupt dealings to take place, with the public having no inkling it is happening to their money and assets.  It is possible for a corporation or certain officers of a corporation to hide money, assets, and even people and other money payoffs to people using these Hidden Treuhands, potentially keeping the Hidden Treuhand and everything put into it, secret even from their own board of directors. 

 

And although the practice is not legal in the United States, all a corporation needs to do is open a subsidiary in a country, which does offer legal Hidden Treuhands and they are good to go.   They can now thwart any government oversight, auditors and investigators, rules and regulations, such as in conflict of interest.  (Ask yourself about Cheney and his interest and financial benefits from Halliburton who coincidentally has moved its headquarters recently to Dubai.  Now we know why.)

 

Due to the complicated financial dealings leading to our recent financial meltdown of the “Too Big to Fails” our pensions and 401 K’s are already at risk.  I don’t know about you, but the possibility of my retirement funds being siphoned off and shuffled around in secret hidden corporate accounts that no one can see or audit and that I will never see again is enough to get me writing letters and demanding change.  For anyone concerned about the safety and security of American consumers and their financial affairs, this book is a must read!   In fact, this book should immediately be required reading for all U.S. Federal Oversight authorities too.

 

-GFS