The Hunt for American Offshore accounts Begins
Based on a Bloomberg Report, Liechtenstein, a country that is widely regarded as a tax haven, has issued a request to American clients to its oldest bank regarding a U.S.-led tax-evasion probe. Liechtensteinische Landesbank AG (LLB) accounts under American ownership, holding more than $500,000 since 2004, are now under the Internal Revenue Service’s investigation. This is largely credited to the Liechtenstein government for changing its tax laws, after it pledged in 2009 to conform to Organisation for Economic Cooperation’s tax standards. It also signals a strong start for the U.S.’s Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.
As such, for investors and companies looking for a tax-efficient jurisdiction to park their funds, a good move would be to first seek a tax consultant for tax-planning advice to find ways to legally avoid paying high taxes.
The arbitration sector in Singapore is set to receive a major boost through a government-led setup of a new arbitration academy, the Singapore International Arbitration Academy (SIAA), in late 2012. This comes in line with the rising demand for such mediation services that follows the increase in out-of-court cases.
The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) handled an estimated S$2 billion worth in cases in 2011, twice of 2010’s figures, and experts believe that the trend would extrapolate further into the future. The SIAA aims to broaden the knowledge and skills of current arbitration practitioners, made up of private practitioners, government officials dealing with international disputes and more. It is a step by the government to increase the attractiveness of doing business in Singapore, and an encouraging sign for Singapore companies as the government develops its arbitration channels.
Over in Europe, Spanish banks have received a 100 billion euro bailout from other European countries amid fears of a worsening crisis. Europe’s finance ministers hope that this rescue would put Spain in a better position to improve its finances as it struggles to convince banks and other lenders that it is still a credible borrower. Following the 2008 real estate bubble, Spain’s banks were dragged down by bad debts, causing investors and lenders to raise lending rates out of fear of a Spanish default. This has spelled trouble for Spain as it looks to refinance 82.5 billion euros worth of maturing debt in 2012. Even then, analysts believe that the future of Spain lies outside the Euro, with high unemployment and external jitters compounding Spain’s economic troubles. Further information can be found in this Reuters report.
China’s economy is also showing signs of a slowdown, according to a Forbes Report. The Chinese Central Bank lowered the one-year rate for deposits by 25 basis points on Thursday, a first since 2008, in order to stimulate spending levels within the country. However, China’s top 5 banks have not chosen to follow the Central Bank’s lead to drop deposit rates, as analysts believe that the banks are minimising capital outflow, following an estimated $100 billion withdrawal in household deposits in April. Official figures release by the National Bureau of Statistics also showed that the consumer price index fell to 3.0% in May, exceeding most analysts’ estimates. A recession might be at hand for the Chinese economy if the newly introduced measures fail to take flight.