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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Tax changes ‘will benefit millions’

Category : Business

More than 24 million people will gain by an average of £50 owing to changes to tax thresholds – but others will lose out, Budget documents show.

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Reserve Bank of Australia hacked

Category : Business

Virus infiltrated computers and sought information on G20 negotiations, central bank reveals under freedom of information

Australia’s central bank has been targeted by hackers seeking sensitive information that included Group of 20 negotiations.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) would not comment on a media report that the computer virus used in the attack was Chinese in origin.

Hacking attacks on governments and corporations have become routine, with suspicion falling on China as the source of much of the activity. Beijing has repeatedly denied accusations it is behind the attacks, saying it too is a victim of hacking, particularly from the United States.

Documents released under freedom of information showed the RBA was the subject of a malicious email attack on 16-17 November 2011 using a virus that was undetectable by the bank’s security software.

An email titled Strategic Planning FY2012 was sent to several RBA staff up to department heads and was opened by six of them, potentially compromising their workstations. The email purported to come from a senior staff member at the bank and originated from a “possibly legitimate” external account.

The emails contained a compressed Zip file with an executable malware application, though the bank would not identify the virus used.

All of the six workstations affected did not have local administrator rights, so the virus could not spread. The computers involved were deemed compromised and removed from the network on 17 November 2011.

“The email had managed to bypass the existing security controls in place for malicious emails by being well written, targeted to specific bank staff and utilised an embedded hyperlink to the virus payload which differs from the usual attack whereby the virus is attached directly to the email,” according the RBA’s report of the incident.

“Bank assets could have been potentially compromised, leading to service disruption, information loss and reputation.”

The RBA took the issue up with the providers of its antivirus software to update its defences, including scanning for hyperlinks in emails and automatically blocking them.

As well as attempted hacking the RBA documents list a range of potentially embarrassing incidents from lost laptops and BlackBerries to sensitive documents emailed out by mistake. In one incident a folder containing confidential information was left on the rear of an office car by a distracted staff member.

A passing motorist noticed the papers scattered across the road. After a hour of searching most of the papers were recovered, though some apparently went down a stormwater drain, “resulting in moderate reputational risk to the bank”.

£40bn of UK money in Swiss banks

Category : Business

An estimated £40bn is being held in Swiss bank accounts by UK taxpayers, documents accompanying the Autumn Statement show.

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The ‘Sark Lark’ Britons scattered around the world

Category : Business

From the Caribbean to Cyprus, former Channel islanders are taking money to disguise the ownership of thousands of companies

Many Britons who make a living from “the signing”, as they call it, originate from the tiny Channel island of Sark, a notorious British tax haven. Following scandals more than a decade ago over the “Sark Lark”, the group scattered, setting up residence in far-flung jurisdictions such as Cyprus, Dubai, Vanuatu, Mauritius, or Nevis in the Caribbean. Many still keep in touch on Facebook.

They make up teams of sham company directors, according to documents the Guardian has seen, taking money to disguise the real ownership of thousands of international companies. This is not illegal, and they generally say they are helping owners preserve legitimate privacy.

Sarah and Edward Petre-Mears, who moved from Sark to Nevis, worked through an agency in Northamptonshire. Some of their companies have been registered in the UK at Companies House in Cardiff.

A Petre-Mears neighbour on Sark, Jesse Hester, went to Cyprus to launch a similar operation called Atlas Corporate Services. He then moved on to Dubai with his colleagues Damien Calderbank and Matthew Stokes, and eventually onward to the small Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.

Hester offers his customers “anonymity of the ultimate owners”. He tells them: “The prime advantage … is to place the ‘management and control’ issue firmly outside a high tax jurisdiction.” This allows the owners to claim the company is being run from an overseas tax haven, rather than from where they live.

Hester says he is a genuine director. His lawyer said: “Our client has the right not to execute documents, can alter bank mandates, can enter into contracts, and is free to resign.” The accountants and intermediaries he works for carry out identity checks on their clients, he said, and he complied with all legal requirements.

Atlas is associated with 12 people who between them have held directorships of 1,578 companies in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) as well as 4,460 UK companies. They frequently work for Cornhill, a company formation agency run in London by Mark Lance.

Lance said his provision of “non-resident directors for legitimate purposes” for occasional clients was not a significant part of the business. “Cornhill does not deny that the use of non-resident directors is open to abuse,” but, he said, he obtained “full proof of identity” from all customers.

A second Cyprus nominee operation is run by Sean Lee Hogan, 41, who has put his name to nearly 100 BVI and 743 UK companies. He often works for a north London offshoring agent, the Stanley Davis Group. Hogan did not respond to invitations to comment.

Two other Britons who share a flat in east London, Ted Cocks and Joseph Sparks, signed up with a Moscow agency, GSL, to put their names and UK addresses on more than 450 BVI entities. The companies were subsequently sold on to anonymous Russians. They say their activities were legitimate.

Geoffrey Taylor and his son Ian have acted as directors for 291 BVI companies and a further 442 in the UK. From the Pacific island of Vanuatu, they offer clients an extra choice of UK or New Zealand addresses. “You can pick the jurisdiction that best suits you,” Geoffrey Taylor emailed one potential customer.

Taylor’s brochure even offered the opportunity of having him on their letterhead as “Lord Stubbington”, a UK manorial title he purchased.

“He can act as director and shareholder for clients without arousing suspicion that he is a nominee only,” it said. “In this way he can act as your frontman and attract attention away from you. Lord Stubbington provides your activities with credibility.”

Ian Taylor said his father had now retired. “Only a small handful” of the companies they acted for were misused, he said. Nominees were used for various legitimate reasons. “Clients of certain nationalities are discriminated against only due to their citizenship. Some clients require privacy to avoid problems from jealous family members.”

As long ago as 1999, Britain’s sham director industry was officially struck down – or so it seemed. The minister Kim Howells, in the Department of Trade and Industry, boasted: “The government today struck a fatal blow against the practice of so-called ‘nominee directorships’.”

The government went to court to disqualify one Sark islander, Philip Croshaw, who was signing his name on company documents thousands of times. Howells said: “The trade in providing ‘nominee director’ services from the island of Sark has been a scandal … The courts have now effectively outlawed this abuse.”

The DTI quoted Mr Justice Blackburne, pronouncing at Manchester crown court: “The message must go out that the office of director is one which carries responsibilities … The court would not tolerate the situation where someone takes on the directorship of so many companies and then totally abrogates responsibility. If tolerated, it would undermine the whole basis of corporate management.”

But the investigation shows that Sark’s “nominees” simply moved elsewhere, and were never policed by the DTI or its successors, including the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The offshore trick: how BVI ‘nominee director’ system works

Category : Business

Three pieces of paper are vital in setting up ready-made companies

Nominee directors are not illegal and can sometimes be useful, for example in preparing “off-the-shelf” ready-made companies. But the legal conjuring trick behind the British Virgin Islands nominee system opens the way to abuses. It depends on three pieces of paper:

1. A promise by a nominee director only to do what the real owner tells them.

A characteristic “nominee director declaration”, used in 2010 by the Vanuatu-based Taylor organisation, reads like this: “I, Ian Taylor, Director BRAD LAND LTD, having agreed to the appointment as Director of a company duly incorporated under the laws of the British Virgin Islands [BVI] … hereby declare that I shall only act upon instruction from the beneficial owners.”

2. A “general power of attorney”.

The nominee secretly hands back all control to that real owner. Typically, “To transact, manage and do all and every business matter … To open any bank account and to operate the same … To enter into all contracts … To collect debts, rents and other money due.”

That example, signed by a Nevis-resident nominee director in 2005, gives back control of a BVI offshore company, Kordwell Holdings, to its secret Russian owner, Vladimir Bugrov, in Moscow. One typical agency, the Haslemere-based accountants Fletcher Kennedy, explicitly advertise: “Both the power of attorney and nominee director agreement are confidential documents designed to ensure our clients’ privacy.” They told us that the website was “a historic one dropped by us some time ago”.

The more brazen nominees favour residence in self-ruling havens such as Vanuatu or Nevis because they aim to be beyond the reach of the developed world’s tax and legal authorities. But they avoid the BVI itself. Because the BVI recognises British law, local residents could in theory be vulnerable to claims of legal liability from creditors and others. One offshoring agency owner told Russians, his biggest customers according to our sources, that the only people prepared to provide such secret general powers of attorney were those Britons who had emigrated from Sark to more far-flung jurisdictions.

3. A signed, but undated, director’s resignation letter.

This supposedly enables a nominee to duck liability in the event of any trouble. Ted Cocks and Joseph Sparks, for example, who share a flat in the East End of London, say this was the only one of the three documents they ever signed, as nominee directors of more than 200 Russian firms, and that they were never involved with the more exotic nominee practices.

Planet Payment, Inc. (PLPM: OTC Link) | Notice of Special Meeting

Category : Stocks

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Notice of Special Meeting

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Insurers urge flood preparations

Category : Business

Insurers are urging homeowners to be well prepared by keeping key documents safe as strong winds and rain lash parts of the UK.

Continued here: Insurers urge flood preparations

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Kellogg (K) and [[KKR]] are among the companies interested in bidding for United Biscuits’ KP snacks unit, which could be worth £500M, Bloomberg reported yesterday. KP was spun off this year from United Biscuits’ owners, Blackstone (BX) and PAI…

Category : World News

Kellogg (K) and KKR are among the companies interested in bidding for United Biscuits’ KP snacks unit, which could be worth

RBS shares down on Libor manipulation claims but Barclays shares back at pre-scandal levels

Category : Business

Former RBS employee claims anyone could change interbank rate in Singapore court documents

As the Royal Bank of Scotland gets dragged into the Libor scandal thanks to court documents in Singapore, shares have dropped 3%, making it one of the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100.

However, the Government-controlled bank need not be too worried, because shares in Barclays, which was the first to be hit by regulators, are already back at pre-Libor scandal levels.

Just to remind everyone, and ex-Royal Bank of Scotland employee has claimed that anyone at the bank could change the lending rate whenever they chose.

Shares are down 7.1p at 228.5p after Tan Chi Min, who is suing RBS for wrongful dismissal, claimed that in 2008 a trader for the bank, Will Hall, changed the Libor submission himself even though he was part of the Japanese yen swap desk in London.

More worrying is the allegations he has made that the manipulation was covered up, claiming that minutes of his disciplinary hearing were inaccurate.

Barclays, the first bank to be fined in the Libor scandal, saw its own share price plummet 22.5% from 196p before its £290m fine and its lowest point, 150p, when Bob Diamond resigned.

However shares at Barclays are now back at the pre-Libor scandal levels trading today down 2.3p at 191.9p.

Man Utd prices shares at $16 each

Category : Business

Manchester United plans to sell shares at between $16 and $20 each, raising as much as $330m (£210m) in New York, according to documents filed in the US.

Continued here: Man Utd prices shares at $16 each

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