Friday, April 5, 2013

Secret Global Offshore Banking Scheme Exposed!

Now this from: The Progressive Press
   And all of you thought I was talking out of another orifice than my mouth!?

Secret Global Offshore Banking Scheme Exposed!
Posted by Emine Dilek on Thursday, April 4, 2013 · 

Former chief economist, and a board member of the Tax Justice Network, James S. Henry’s research reveals that an estimated $21 trillion to $32 trillion in private financial wealth is tucked away in offshore havens, roughly equivalent to the size of the U.S. and Japanese economies combined.
These offshore havens are managed by the world’s 50 largest “private banks” –considered legal and legitimate-, and their coffers grew from $5.4 trillion in 2005 to more than $12 trillion in 2010.
Now, twelve diligent and patient journalists of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) organization, and 86 journalists from 46 countries, sifting through millions of leaked files, emails and account ledgers, uncovered who these people are and where do they hide their cash to easily evade taxes or launder money.
ICIJ released their findings in a report titled “Secret Files Expose Offshore’s Global Impact”, discovering more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts that conduct hidden dealings with politicians, con men and the mega-rich. The scheme extends to more than 170 countries and territories.
ICIJ reports that, during an interview with the CBC, Arthur Cockfield, a law professor and tax expert at Queen’s University in Canada, who reviewed some of the documents, said “I’ve never seen anything like this. This secret world has finally been revealed.”
According to the article, “Government officials and their families and associates in Azerbaijan, Russia, Canada, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Mongolia and other countries have embraced the use of covert companies and bank accounts.”
Moreover, “They include American doctors and dentists and middle-class Greek villagers as well as families and associates of long-time despots, Wall Street swindlers, Eastern European and Indonesian billionaires, Russian corporate executives, international arms dealers and a sham-director-fronted company that the European Union has labeled as a cog in Iran’s nuclear-development program.”
Report’s key findings explain how these tax advantages, the mega-rich use, are not available to the average people, and how the complex offshore structures allow them to purchase and own mansions, yachts, art masterpieces and other assets without having to pay any tax on them.
However, the scheme is not only about wealthy citizens trying to avoid paying taxes, it also exposes that savvy swindlers and drug lords have been taking advantage of this clandestine money hiding operation. Ponzi schemers, large-scale fraudsters, mobsters and oligarchs routinely use offshore havens, to not only hide their money, but in many cases also to launder it.
A well-paid industry of bankers, accountants, middlemen and other operatives help these customers to hide their identities and money, under the supposed legal guise of international and national laws, through an elaborate financial web that spans countries, continents and hemispheres.
Despite the efforts of several tax justice groups, and few international economic justice organizations, to reduce the secrecy and get tougher on money laundering, the offshore havens remain as a “zone of impunity” for anyone determined to hide their money, engaged in money laundering and tax fraud.
In the USA, most states have minimum mandatory sentencing of 1 to 5 years for robbery. Of course, the fancy world of “offshore” banking is not considered petty theft when it comes to international banking, because we all know bankers wear suits and ties, and that makes them legitimate.

I rest my case. Anyone care to redirect?

The Real March Madness: Part Deux

The Real March Madness: Where does all our money go?

I have chosen to look at 15 of the largest U.S. Corporations that have effectively stopped paying taxes. These Corporations are, at the same time, cutting jobs across the board using the current “sequestration” and the Depression as an excuse. It's time for the corporate sector to report their first-quarter earnings.  windfall profits. So, why don't our biggest corporations pay more taxes?
Because they don’t have to: thanks to our wonderful Corporate Tax Structure. The real March madness is here, and my personal bracket for the “f-you fifteen” is as follows.
1.      General Electric: The worst tax record  with $81 billion in profits and a $3 billion refund.
2.      Boeing: $21.5 billion in profits in addition to receiving a refund.
3.      Exxon Mobil: Made $??? , by far the largest profits in the group, but paid less than 1% in U.S. taxes.
4.      Verizon: Second worst tax record, with a refund despite $48 billion in profits.
5.      Kraft Foods: Received a refund (bailout) from the public despite $13.5 billion in profits.
6.      Citigroup: One of the five big banks who are estimated to get a bailout/refund from the American public amounting to three cents from every tax dollar.
7.      Dow Chemical: Received a refund despite almost $10 billion in profits.
8.      IBM: Paid less than 3% in taxes.
9.      Chevron: A meager 4.3% tax rate and a share of oil subsidies.
10.  FedEx: The company paid less than 5% in federal taxes while relying on the publicly-funded Post Office to deliver thirty percent of its ground packages.
11.  Honeywell: Less than 6% in taxes.
12.  Apple: Where to begin? They are among the leaders in using what is termed  "Double Irish" to transfer profits from  around the World to Europe then, to Bermuda,
13.  Pfizer: Cash rich and one of the leaders in stockpiling untaxed profits overseas.
14.  Google: Along with Apple, a  master at the "Double Irish" revenue shift to Bermuda tax havens. Recognized as one of the world's biggest tax avoiders.
15.  Microsoft: Named as one of the biggest offshore hoarders. [1]

Since 2008, these Corporations have, for practical purposes, stopped paying their taxes. But, as business got better and their stock values went through the roof, they never even tried to restore their tax obligations. (Dow Jones Industrial Average in January, 2009 = 8,000.86: Dow Jones Industrial Average in January, 2013 = 13,860.58) The shareholders were getting richer. Corporate upper management was getting a lot richer. And, the stock brokers were getting filthy rich. Is there any thought given to Social, Moral, or Ethical standards? Apparently not!
Who wins at this game? No one wins this game in the long run. Financially they do (in the short term), but the gains are outweighed by the greed and irresponsibility of tax avoidance. All these companies use our infrastructure, technology, research facilities, higher education and national defense to build incomparably successful businesses. They do everything in their power to avoid paying anything back, using write-offs, exemptions, and loopholes to cut their tax bills to almost nothing. On top of all that, some of them get whopping Tax Refunds and juicy Government Subsidies to line their greedy little pockets.

March Madness: Part Une

Occasionally, what you wish for turns out to be something you didn’t really want. The United States wished for, and got, a laissez-faire Capitalist economy. From the late 1800’s through the 20th Century, this brand of economic structure worked pretty darn well. We have been witness to the maturation of the Industrial Revolution, the dawn of the Electronic Age, and now we find ourselves at a crossroads, of sort. What we do with what we have is going to define our Society for a very long time to come.

There has been a recent and very staggering increase in the division of wealth in this Country. The top 2% are laughing all the way to the bank. The Middle Class has all but disappeared. The ranks of the working poor and impoverished are growing exponentially. The democratic style of government we chose has grown into this behemoth of a bureaucracy that is crumbling under its own weight. In keeping pace, our business sectors have run the table with tax breaks and subsidies (Corporate Welfare). They have perfected this to the point where the U.S. has a fast dwindling tax base with which to operate. If you are on the outside looking in, you might wonder what the problem is. We seem to have enough money, so why are we in such a crisis?

The answer to that is GREED. Most of the working populace has traditionally relied on business ownership and management to “do the right thing”. We believed that there was good in all humankind, and that the owners of the wealth would not forget who got them where they are today. It’s bad enough that “We the People” are getting the short end of the stick from business, finance, and manufacturing. Our own Government is sticking it to us at the same time. I give you the Military/Industrial Complex.



After half a Century of paying lip service to the perils of this consortium, we have done nothing at all to close the wound and stop the bleeding. The vicious cycle of campaign funding, lobbying, politics, running an arms race with no real opponent, and lining the pockets of a chosen few has this Nation broken down and in the ditch. Someone in this game has to blink sooner than later. We do have a lot of money, but the well is running dry at an alarming rate.
The big question is, “Where do you start?” Below is a list of the top 20 defense contractors based on their 2009 defense contract revenue. The numbers reflect what the Company actually made on their “corporate welfare” contracts. The contracts, themselves, have numbers whose zeroes would run off the page. The political will of the People can break the cycle right here.

Top Defense Companies
Defense Revenue
($ Millions - 2009)
Source: Washington Technology - 2010 Top 100 [1]

These Companies, along with hoards of others, treat out National Treasury like their own personal ATM card.
You certainly recognize most of them, and, of note, are the Corporations that are Foreign, and, as such, pose a threat to the security of Military manufacturing capabilities of the U.S.

  1. “…BAE has described the rationale for expansion in the US; "[it] is by far the largest defense market with spend running close to twice that of the Western European nations combined. Importantly, US investment in research and development is significantly higher than in Western Europe." The company's 2004 strategy review confirmed a "strategic bias" for expansion and investment in the US… “ [2]
  2. DRS Technologies Inc. is a US-based defense contractor. Previously traded on the NYSE, the company was purchased by the Italian firm Finmeccanica in October 2008. [3]

Sequestration is just a smokescreen

Sequestration is just a smokescreen for the real crisis of growing corporate power

Well, we’ve experienced the first two parts of the quote above, now we are fast falling into the third. There is a “smokescreen” being laid down in front of us to hide the real crises confronting the United States of America. I tend to think that “We The People” are being hood-winked by some explicit, grand design.

The government “sequestration” is not a crisis. At best it is simply forcing us to tighten our national budget belt. There seems to be a concerted effort to have the American public believe that our national budget deficit is getting larger and larger with every passing day of the Obama Administration. This is not only untrue, but exactly the opposite of what’s been happening over the last five years. Our budget deficit has been shrinking, and is now approximately half of what it was at the end of 2008. While all these scare tactics are flooding the country, the stock market has just reached an all-time high.

There must be a “grand design” meticulously constructed by the real people who run this country; Our captains of industry. What a perfect design it is! Our major Industries have abandoned this nation’s labor force. They have sent us all straight down the crapper without so much as a thank you. As I recall, it was the middle class that brought the United States into its golden era of manufacturing and production of goods and services. The rest of the world couldn’t wait to see what was coming out of America at any given moment.
Then something went terribly wrong. It started slowly with a handful of greedy manipulative business men. They started making obscene amounts of money, not a bad thing in itself. They took their companies public, again not a bad thing in itself. The more obscene profits they made, the more they were willing to pay out as dividends to a relatively small group of “investors”. That’s when things began to snowball down a long steep hill to the two-class society we are morphing into today.

Meanwhile, back at the farm our businesses were growing exponentially as were their profits and investor dividends. Finally the federal government woke up and came to the realization that there was quite a bit of tax revenue to be had by taxing these businesses more and more. On top of all that, our government started coming up with certain regulations which very few wanted to understand, let alone follow. This is where the fat cats got more than just a little nervous.
The big bad wolf (the fed’s) was coming for more, and more of their money. It didn’t take business and industry very long before they figured out how to sidestep both corporate taxes and federal regulations. The answer; take it all off-shore and hide it, so off-shore they went!

While they were busy finding their way around all this “big government” stuff, they found it well worth their while to hire some folks to go to Washington, DC and do their bidding. We saw the birth and maturation of the “lobbyist”. With the influx of lobbyists from all sorts of businesses, our members of congress had very little time to do their jobs.

They relied, more and more, on lobbyists to actually craft and write the legislation that our congress was to consider making the Law of the Land. The end result, with few exceptions the laws that got passed and signed heavily favored the same businesses whose lobbyists had written them; a reasonable conclusion.
What got lost in the mix? A number of things got lost in this transformation that took over half a century to complete. Perhaps the most damaging of all is our corporate tax structure. In a nutshell it allows corporate profits to be sent out of the country thus avoiding taxation. It allows for corporate losses and write-offs to be kept here and deducted from any domestic tax liability. The gain is usually a fat “refund” for corporations who really don’t need it and certainly don’t deserve it.
This tax situation in turn made it more profitable to to ship jobs out of the country. This kept American businesses ahead of the government and handed the American public the bill. The American middle class was just wealthy enough to foot that bill for a number of years, but now the middle class has shrunk to the point that it can no longer sustain the nation’s tax revenues and is in debt itself.

It’s not clear what the continuance of this grand design is, but when you take a serious look at it there is nothing good for “We The People”. So, are we doomed to a government by the corporations, of the corporations, and for the corporations? This is the real crisis…

Heads in the Sand

The out of touch world  

inside the Washington 


The more I read about the U.S. Government’s view on what happened to the Economy in 2008, the more I am convinced that there is a rather large Ostrich Farm located within the confines of the Washington, DC Beltway. The Beltway is the area inside the I-495 highway that circles the Nation’s Capital. Within this circle reside our federally elected officials and an enormous number of Government employees. These good folks seem to be of the mind that all is truly well with the Union; after all, the President told us it was back in January. I can understand a little of their “head-in-the-sand” mentality, but, come on. Someone there must watch the News, or C-Span, or some form of media that gives them some sense of where the American Public stands on issues as large as the Economy.

As I’m reading “Foreign Affairs” (Jan./Feb. Issue), I realize that the article I’m most interested in is written by an ex-U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary. I figure that, now that he’s out of the political circus, he may actually be in touch with reality and make a rational argument for his theme, “The Fall and Rise of the West”. And, then I hit upon the excerpt below:

“While the grim effects of the 2008 financial crisis still resonate across the globe, the recession wasn't all bad:” [1]

“…the recession wasn’t all that bad..?.” If it was just a recession, perhaps it would not have been that bad, but we encountered a modern-day Depression: not a recession. Anyone who was paying attention will agree. A look at the real numbers will tell you right away that our Financial system, backed by our Corporate giants, brought this Country and the entire World to its knees. Since its inception in 2008, this Depression has effectively bankrupted the Economies of some heretofore stable Countries; Greece, Spain, Great Britain, Russia, Japan, the United States, and Mexico to mention a few.                                    
 “…the result is a U.S. economy poised to emerge stronger than it was before...[1]
We have a “bought-and-paid-for” Congress that keeps trying to secure our National slide into the gutter. We have a large group of “higher moral” States that feel they, too, can run roughshod over the American Public. All this is fully supported by a relative handful of U.S. based multinational Companies, and their puppets in Washington, DC. If you doubt this for one second, I refer you to ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Here are a few demographic numbers that will bear out an argument for Depression:

BLS = U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Who would ever have thought that the Carter years saw the highest manufacturing employment years? (almost 20 million jobs) There are figures that some believe describe the true unemployment rates in the U.S. (the SGS Alternate) With the true unemployment figures alone, this statement is ridiculous.

                                           SGS = Shadow Government Statistics

Definition of an Economic Depression:
1. a decline in real GDP exceeding 10%, or
2. a recession lasting 2 or more years.

Still, none of our financial “leaders” have been indicted, stood trial, or gone to jail.

[1]    Roger C. Altman, Why America and Europe Will Emerge Stronger From the Financial Crisis
       Foreign Affairs Publication, Jan./Feb., 2013