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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com 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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Bank chief flies to NY for talks

Category : Business, World News

Standard Chartered’s chief executive is in New York to negotiate directly with the US regulator that accused it of “scheming” to hide $250bn of transactions with Iran.

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Private banking’s cosy world under siege

Category : Business

Cash-strapped countries are putting increasing pressure on private banks to help them claw back money from tax evaders

High-street banks have long promised to go the extra mile for their customers, but none of them can purport to offer the kind of service private banks do.

Coutts recalls a story when a client dropped his wallet over the side of his yacht. One satellite-phone call later and the bank couriered out cards and cash to the next port he was going to. Then there was the diabetic client who got straight off an aircraft and into back-to-back meetings. When he finally checked into his hotel, there was nothing on the menu he could eat, so he called his bank – obviously – which duly sent a taxi there, complete with restaurant recommendations.

Private banks even send their clients’ children on boot camps for offspring of the ultra-rich. AH Loder Advisers has an annual dog sled expedition across the Arctic. While billed as leadership training, these trips are as much about ensuring the children stay with the bank when they inherit.

But such service does not come cheap. Individuals have to have around £1m in investable assets before private banks will even deign to speak to them, though Coutts says this is flexible and it will “invest time to develop a client’s potential, whether they be a lawyer or an entrepreneur”.

Beyond these perks, private banks emphasise personal service. Where a retail bank will take a cursory glance at your credit rating, a private banker will ask about a client’s family history and their “objectives for their wealth”. Instead of a Mumbai call centre, customers will have the mobile number of their private banker, whom they can call at any hour of the day. It’s hardly surprising; safeguarding the assets of so-called “high net worth individuals”, who are often willing to pay a premium for secrecy, is highly lucrative. According to Tax Justice Network research, the top 10 private banks – led by UBS and Credit Suisse – had more than $6 trillion under management in 2010, up from $2.3tn five years earlier.

Much of the appeal lies in their discretion. Switzerland has long been at the heart of the private banking industry, with its tradition of secrecy dating back to 1934, when it became a criminal offence for employees to pass on information about clients’ accounts to a third party, even government tax inspectors from other countries.

For years, governments turned a blind eye to their wealthiest citizens squirrelling away their riches in such tax havens. But since the global economic meltdown, cash-strapped governments are scrabbling around for revenue, and Switzerland has been one of the first places they have looked.

The UK government has struck a deal with the Swiss authorities to try and claw back at least some money from tax evaders. Under this deal, UK residents with undeclared assets in Swiss banks will be able to make a one-off, “clear the slate” payment of 21%-41% on their total assets and retain their anonymity. The Swiss will then levy a withholding tax on any future investment income and capital gains banked in Switzerland, set at 27%-48%. That compares with the top 50% rate of tax for funds kept in UK-based banks, due to be cut to 45% as of next year.

Tax expert Richard Murphy says this means those wealthy enough to transfer their assets are getting off extremely lightly: “It’s extraordinary. It’s legal to hide your money from HMRC now. You can complete a tax return and not put your income on it if it’s hidden in a Swiss bank account. This is fundamentally wrong.”

He says it also creates a perverse incentive for the wealthy to move money out of the UK. “And it gives no opportunity for the Revenue to go back to these people, most of whom have been tax evading for years,” he adds. “This is rewarding past crimes.”

A spokesman for HMRC says it is still illegal to hide money anywhere. He agrees that a UK resident does not have to declare income in a Swiss account if they agree to pay the one-off levy, but says that income will be subject to the withholding tax, which could end up higher than the rate they would pay in the UK. The deal was needed to crack open tax evasion cases, he adds, and could generate £4bn-£7bn in revenue.

Britain is very much a trailblazer in this regard. Only Greece and Austria have signed similar deals, while Italy is still in negotiations with the Swiss.

Germany has agreed a potential deal along the same lines as the UK, but it needs to be ratified by the German parliament and there is substantial opposition from individual states. That became clear last week when reports emerged that one state recently bought information from a whistleblower on potential tax evaders, which could blow a hole in the agreement.

North-Rhine Westphalia is said to have paid €3.5m (£2.7m) for a CD purportedly containing the names of around 1,000 Germans with assets in the Zurich branch of Coutts. Coutts has said: “Following thorough investigation, we have no evidence to suggest any such breach has taken place.” This is not the first time such a CD has emerged. In 2010, several German states, including North Rhine-Westphalia, said they had bought CDs containing Swiss banking data, which led to thousands of Germans declaring their financial holdings to avoid going to jail.

The US has won more concessions, with a treaty allowing Washington to more easily identify US residents with undeclared Swiss bank accounts. It is also going after the banks themselves. The department of justice has charged Switzerland’s oldest private bank, Wegelin & Co, with helping Americans hide more than $1.2bn (£770m) in secret accounts. It now has an ongoing investigation into 11 more Swiss financial firms and is discussing a settlement that could result in Swiss private banks handing over account data on thousands of US residents.

With banking secrecy increasingly under threat, private banks may have to organise ever more trips to the Arctic to keep their customers loyal.

F-35 committee probe stalled, shutting down soon?

Category : World News

Opposition MPs on the public accounts committee are accusing the government of having something to hide, based on a secret Conservative motion to stop hearing witnesses on the controversial F-35 fighter jet procurement.

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Hide from Europe’s mess with dividend stocks

Category : Business

Europe’s debt woes got you down? Looking for a safe place to hide in this increasingly ugly market?

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Hide from Europe’s mess with dividend stocks

Category : Stocks

Europe’s debt woes got you down? Looking for a safe place to hide in this increasingly ugly market?

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I can no longer work for a system that puts profit over access to research | Winston Hide

Category : Business

The associate editor of Genomics says its publisher Elsevier effectively denies developing world access to research findings

Today I resigned from the editorial board of a well respected journal in my field – Genomics.

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Budz House

Category : Entertainment, World News

Bud Howard and his stoner buddies hit the jackpot when they come up with a giant bag of kush. They quickly realize it belongs to a trigger-happy drug lord, and hide it under their house. When an unexpected bathroom mishap accidentally fertilizes the…

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SEC Charges Former Franklin Bank Executives

Category : Business

WASHINGTON — The Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday that it charged two former executives of Franklin Bank Corp. with hiding the deterioration of the bank’s finances during the mortgage crisis.

The SEC claims that in 2007 former chief executive officer Anthony Nocella and former chief financial officer J. Russell McCann used aggressive loan modification programs to hide Franklin’s nonperforming loans and artificially boost its profits.

In 2008, federal regulators shuttered the Houston-based bank and seized its assets. Its parent bank holding company subsequently filed for bankruptcy protection.

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Sell in April and hide under the table?

Category : Business

Sell in May and go away? If this market slump continues, traders might need to rename the phrase. Sell in April and hide under the table, perhaps?

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Is Your Spouse Hiding Money Before Divorce? Take this Test

Category : World News

Unfortunately, some individuals attempt to hide assets during divorce proceedings in an attempt to build financial savings.

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