Kapitalverschleierung über Steueroasen

“Using tax oases to veil capital.” Methods for doing this were disclosed by financial data about 130,000 people, in 170 countries, >120,000 “mailbox companies,” >260 GB in >2 million documents from a time range of ~30 years sent anonymously to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists over a year ago. The story hit the world press on 04 Apr 2013. Greek and Filipino tax authorities announced that they will be investigating. The vice president of Mongolia‘s parliament will probably have to resign. Some of the still-legal methods to create tax opacity to be gleaned from the data were shown to have been used by the Deutsche Bank in Singapore, which had an intermediary agent (Trustverwaltungsfirma, “trust administrator company”) create >300 companies in so-called tax paradises (Steuerparadise).

In response: Gerhard Schick (Green Party) suggested Germany follow France’s example of levying an additional tax on all transactions with low-tax countries, disincentivizing tax flight (Steuerflucht) by neutralizing the advantages. Joachim Poß (SPD) proposed “an international anonymous NGO and a comprehensive information exchange, starting here in Europe.” The Leftists party proposed following the USA’s example of linking tax obligations to citizenship, so that every German residing abroad would be obligated to report “their total income every year, how much property they owned in total and what taxes they had had to pay for that in the Seychelles that year. And the difference between that and their German tax obligation” would then have to be paid in Germany, said Gregor Gysi (Die Linken).

The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that they and NDR were the two German media outlets given access to the data (of “the biggest leak in world history”), and furthermore that a representative of Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble requested access to the data on Thursday, 04 Apr 2013, but the SZ would not grant that request. The data were protected under freedom of the press (Pressefreiheit), which includes protecting one’s sources, the Süddeutsche wrote. Sharing the data with government authorities might endanger those sources and obstruct the SZ’s ongoing research. NDR also refused the request to share the data. Now Focus magazine seems to have acquired the data somehow.

Update on 06 Apr 2013: “I have a certain degree of pleasure from the fact that this public scandalization in all countries has very much increased the pressure,” said German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble with quiet satisfaction on 05 Apr 2013. “And now we have better chances to make progress faster than was possible in the past.”

Critics say the German finance minister has to be kidding because everyone’s known about this for years. If Schäuble were serious, they say, his office would be drafting new legislation. Income tax is regulated state-by-state in Germany, for example, and some people are calling for it to be centralized, made into a uniform federal-level taxation system with fewer “tax bait” niches. The OECD seems to be the locus for international negotiations in response to the new information; that group wants to issue a list of proposed actions in response to the “Offshore Leaks” data trove by July 2013.

(Cop ee TALL fer SHLY er oong   üüüberrr   SHTOY er oh OZ en.)

Trennbanken

Separation banks.” Germany’s ruling coalition has indicated that it wants to pass legislation that prevents banks from speculating with money from savings accounts. ZDF’s Valerie Haller said this would split today’s universal German banks into two entities under one roof: one for “consumer business” and one for “risk business” (probably “commercial banking” and “investment banking” in English). If the laws are in fact drafted and then pass, the new rules would come into force two years from now.

Update on 5 Feb 2013: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet has announced it will start putting together “a comprehensive bank regulation package” on Wed. 6 Feb 2013. They say it will include civil and criminal punishments for managers whose assumption of risk endangers their institutions, will separate “speculative banking” from “customer banking” and will require banks to have emergency plans in place in case of worst-case scenarios.

Update on 7 Feb 2013: They did it. On Wed. 6 Feb 2013 Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) announced the proposals in his characteristically clear, reasonable, reliable-sounding way. The opposition criticized that the new banking regulations are late and don’t go far enough. “Too late and too vague,” said the SPD’s chancellor candidate Peer Steinbrück, who said he submitted a proposal to separate universal banks six months ago. About ten large banks in Germany will be affected by the new rules.

(TRENN bonk en.)

Sperrkonto

A blocked or frozen account. Before the troika’s report, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) suggested that rather than wait for the troika’s results Germany make its next tranche payment of aid to Greece anyway, putting it in a frozen account that will automatically pay off certain obligations but not be completely available, somehow. In its 17 Oct 2012 article, Spiegel-Online indicated that the French government too was getting tired of having to deal every few months with problems from Athens. A blocked account similar to the proposed one is currently in use, but it is under the auspices of the Greek finance agency. The new blocked account would be at an institution inaccessible to the Greek government. Spiegel-Online went on to report that additional proposals included giving the Greek minister of finance more powers to strengthen his position versus the other cabinet ministers, bringing in more bureaucrats from other countries to provide development aid in Greece, having Greece issue more “T-bills” and asking or demanding forgiveness of certain debt types.

(SHPARE con toe.)

Hochgeschwindigkeitshandel

“High-speed trading.” On 25 Sept. 2012 the German social democrat party SPD (the opposition to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU + FDP coalition) announced their new proposed financial platform of increasing banking regulation, splitting “universal” banks into a business bank and an investment bank, creating an FDIC-type emergency fund with the banks’ own money to save troubled banks, capping mortgage debt at 80% of the unit’s value and limiting high-speed stock trading. One day later, on 26 Sept., Germany’s financial minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) announced that the German government wants to limit high-speed stock trading.

ZDF heute journal said the government was now calling for the following: registration of high-speed traders, disclosure of computer code if a problem occurs and higher fees after too many “fake attacks” in which high-speed traders pretend to buy a stock in order to drive up the price, then rapidly cancel the larger purchase and sell what they were actually holding at the new higher price.

Respect for Wolfgang Schäuble’s quietly reasoned-sounding explanations. Simple, straightforward, highly credible-sounding. He does a great job with them. He’s also quite clever, distracting me from banking reregulation by seizing on this high-speed trading point.

According to tagesschau.de, Schäuble is calling for “mandatory licensing for high-speed traders. Transparency that enables the supervisory authority to identify abuses faster. And the ability for the stock market supervisory authority to, when bad developments are identified in the market, to immediately halt trading.” On 26 Sept. his political opponent in the SPD responded that this doesn’t go far enough and called not only for licensing of trading firms but also of trading algorithms. Germany’s Green Party said the simplest way to handle this would be to forbid high-speed trades, and furthermore that the government is limiting itself to too much of an observing, witness, role, rather than regulating. And the techie German Pirate Party said…?

(HOKE geh SHVIN dig kites hon dell.)

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