Switzerland/Singapore news: Tax evasion controversy shifts east

Swissinfo has an article with the title “Tax evasion controversy shifts east” which illustrates several developments in the offshore world, including

– the competition between Switzerland (FSI rank: 1) and Singapore (FSI rank: 5)

– the impact on the offshore industry of the recent ICIJ revelations that thousands of Chinese officials own shell companies, and

– what could be called “selective compliance” by offshore centers, i.e. scrutiny of clients varies depending on their country of origin.

Selected quotes:

“Having taken over the mantle of the world’s fastest growing wealth management magnet from Switzerland, Singapore should now take centre stage in bringing the industry out of the shadows, according to an Asian private banking expert.”

“Philip Marcovici, who has advised governments such as Liechtenstein on addressing the crackdown on tax evasion, spoke to swissinfo.ch after recent revelations from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The ICIJ has accused Swiss banks of helping relatives of Chinese leaders set up opaque financial structures in far flung tax havens.”

“Singapore has already taken its first steps towards tax transparency, but it needs to do more,” Marcovici told swissinfo.ch. “Singapore now has the responsibility, given its growing dominance in wealth management, to provide the kind of leadership in this area that Switzerland failed to show us.”

But the article also quotes opposition politician Kenneth Jeyaretnam, Secretary-General of the Reform Party, saying: “While Singapore pays lip service to information exchange, it continues to turn a blind eye to assets derived tax evasion and outright theft.”

and continues

“Singapore is surrounded by countries generating high levels of wealth such as Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. The suspicion remains that inflows of funds from these states is not subject to the same scrutiny as afforded to US clients.”

“It may well be the case that different approaches, at this stage, are being taken in respect of different countries, with less urgency and a lighter touch  applying to assets coming from developing countries, many of which are its neighbours, than to assets originating from Western Europe and the US,” Marcovici told swissinfo.ch.”

The full article can be found here.

According to his personal website, Philip Marcovici is a winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award, “the most prestigious annual award for individual practitioners at the STEP Private Client Awards 2013/14″.

“The Judges said: ‘Philip has been one of the industry’s pioneers, at the forefront of advising on the dramatic changes in tax disclosure and the development of tax amnesties. In particular he was instrumental in the development of the successful Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility, and the approach, which he initiated and designed, is now the basis for other similar arrangements with the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.'”

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