IMPORTANT DOCUMENT from TAX JUSTICE NETWORK copied out for easier reading everyone!
Report on LUXEMBOURG, today protesting it’s INNOCENCE of collusion in Financial Crime!
Luxembourg is ranked at SECOND position on the 2013 FINANCIAL SECRECY Index.
This ranking is based on a combination of its secrecy score and a scale weighting based on its share of the global market for OFFSHORE financial services.
Luxembourg has been assessed with 67 secrecy points out of a potential 100 ( chart 1)
Luxembourg accounts for slightly over 12 per cent of the global market for offshore financial services, making it a huge player compared with other secrecy jurisdictions (see chart 2).
Part 1: TELLING THE STORY
30 September 2013
The Luxembourg financial centre: history and background
Luxembourg is one of the WORLD’S MOST IMPORTANT SECRECY JURISDICTIONS.
Sandwiched between Germany, France and
Belgium at the heart of Europe, this tiny constitutional
monarchy has a population of just over half a million –
making it relatively easy for the financial sector to exert a strong degree of ‘CAPTURE’ over the political system, the media and even the zeitgeist of the entire Duchy.
With commuters from across the border making up nearly 45 percent of the workforce, and foreigners making up over 70 percent of the working population, Luxembourg always had a strong international orientation, which fits its fast-developing ‘offshore’ character.
Faced with European Union efforts to curtail tax evasion, Luxembourg works actively and aggressively to DEFEND FINANCIAL SECRECY.
Alongside its secrecy offerings it has many other ‘offshore’ offerings: it is a prolific source of TAX LOOPHOLES for transnational corporations and wealthy individuals, and it offers a wide range of opportunities in the area of LAX FINANCIAL REGULATION.
Its history as a financial centre stems from three main developments:
1. first, tax-free facilities for non-resident corporations, dating from 1929;
2. second, the emergence of offshore Eurodollar and ‘Eurobond’ activity in the 1960s, attracted by Luxembourg’s REGULATORY LAXITY
￼ Published on 7 November, 2013 © Tax Justice Network
Financial Secrecy Index Luxembourg ￼￼￼and tax-free status;
3. and third, tight SECRECY RULES , first enshrined in the Banking Law of 1981.
Breaking secrecy laws can result in a prison sentence.
Luxembourg’s secrecy score of 67 is fully deserved, indeed its role as an ACTIVE POLITICAL SPOILER of European efforts to promote financial transparency – a role that is not reflected in our data – suggests that our index may UNDERPLAY the DAMAGE INFLICTED on OTHER COUNTRIES by LUXEMBOURG’S FINANCIAL SECTOR.
Underpinning the financial sector, as with its competitor Switzerland and other financial centres, is the country’s political stability, its neutrality, and its location at the heart of Europe, both geographically and politically: it was a founder member of the European Union.
Its stability is bolstered further by the fact that politics has been dominated for the past half- century by a right-wing political party, the Chrëschtlesch Sozial Vollekspartei (CSV) which has strongly supported financial secrecy and the financial centre’s ‘offshore’ orientation.
Like Ireland, another competitor for global financial services, Luxembourg not only provides most of the offerings of ‘traditional’ tax havens like the Cayman Islands but its membership of the European Union and its wide range of tax treaties gives it better access to European and international markets than is available to more peripheral tax havens.
Luxembourg offers a wide range of international and offshore services, grouped into FIVE ‘strategic pillars’:
2.asset management & investment funds;
4. insurance; and
Outside what might traditionally be regarded as the financial sector, it also runs a lucrative line in hosting HOLDING companies of transnational corporations, principally to help them AVOID (and EVADE ) tax.
It is also strenuously seeking to build up an industry based on ISLAMIC finance, and in October 2012 achieved a further fillip when a group of major CHINESE BANKS said they were departing the (very lightly regulated) London markets in favour of the EVEN LESS regulated Luxembourg.
In general terms, Luxembourg has sought to tailor specific legislation in sector after sector through a “light-touch”, tax-light, rather secretive ‘offshore’ model, with a historically heavy emphasis on
“keeping assets based in Luxembourg secret from national tax authorities,” as a top Luxembourg regulator explains.
In this approach, Luxembourg has been highly successful: in the words of Luxembourg for Finance, its promotional body, Luxembourg is the
“second largest investment fund centre in the world after the United States, the premier captive reinsurance market in the European Union and the premier private banking centre in the Eurozone.”
It prides itself on being a fast mover in setting up NEW new : it claims to be the first country to define a clear legal framework for e-commerce, leading giants such as Amazon, Ebay and Skype to set up their European headquarters there, setting the stage for futureTAX AVOIDANCE controversies.
Luxembourg is home to alternative, specialised and venture capital investment funds, international pension funds, covered bond issuing banks, securitisation vehicles and many family wealth management companies; the country has a six percent share of the global
￼￼￼private banking industry, about a quarter the size of Switzerland’s, boasting publicly of the sector’s ‘complete discretion’.
Its investment funds industry has assets under management worth over $2.5 trillion, as well as 140 banks with some $800 billion in assets under management in 2011.
The Luxembourg stock exchange is the biggest in Europe for the listing of international bonds, with over 40 percent of the total, and despite being landlocked, Luxembourg even has a shipping registry.
Banking secrecy is based significantly on the privileged nature of professional lawyer-client relationships, rather than classic Swiss-styled banking secrecy; however other forms of secrecy are provided.
In September 2013 Luxembourg was on the verge of approving a new Private Foundations law (see TJN’s post here) that would create powerful new secrecy facilities for wealthy individuals – a move that has added three full points to Luxembourg’s secrecy score.
It is also reportedly setting up a major HIGH-SECURITY WAREHOUSE to help clients store assets such as paintings, gold bars or bearer bonds with minimal or no disclosure to foreign tax authorities.
Complementing all these offshore facilities, Luxembourg is also a major haven for transnational corporations, actively helping them carry out transfer pricing and OTHER ABUSES through the provision of multiple and deliberately crafted tax loopholes.
Hosting large tax-evading and other CRIMINAL ASSETS from around the world, Luxembourg has historically flown UNDER THE RADAR , attracting far less criticism than Switzerland.
Luxembourg has a well resourced lobbying network that has actively sought to undermine criticism of its role as a secrecy jurisdiction, with repeated claims that it is ‘not a tax haven’ and sometimes somewhat repressive moves against its few domestic critics.
TJN’s director John Christensen has called Luxembourg the
“Death Star” of financial secrecy inside Europe because of its leading role, in close political partnership with Switzerland and Austria, in fighting against information-sharing schemes in Europe.
Although Luxembourg today rivals Switzerland in size and scope as a European secrecy jurisdiction, the origins of its financial sector are far younger.
Emerging as a neutral and partly independent (impoverished) nation only in 1867, Luxembourg did not gain its own independent ruling family until 1890.
Rapid economic growth for much of the early part of the 20th Century was based on large iron ore deposits and the emergence of a strong iron and steel industry.
In 1929 Luxembourg took its first steps as an offshore financial centre with a new regime for holding companies, under which transnational corporations could establish ‘holding company’ subsidiaries in Luxembourg (set up purely to own assets elsewhere) that would be exempt from income and capital gains tax.
Although justified as a way to help transnational corporations avoid getting taxed twice (once in their ‘home’ country and then again in the country where they were investing,) in reality they were used increasingly to achieve double non-taxation: that is, to escape tax in both countries.
￼￼￼In the 1960s, the Luxembourg financial industry began to take off properly. The big milestone – a top Luxembourg financier suggested this was Luxembourg’s financial “Big Bang” – was the launch in July 1963 of the world’s first ever offshore Eurobond (for the Italian motorways company Autostrade.)
Though the deal itself was mostly hammered together in the City of London, it was listed on the Luxembourg stock exchange: partly for tax reasons, and partly due to Luxembourg’s REGULATORY LAXITY (for example, the bond issue did not even require a prospectus).
By the year’s end there were already 93 bonds listed there (and four decades later, that figure had grown to about 20,000.) The Eurobond markets are a central pillar of the larger Euromarkets today.
Eurobonds were bearer bonds: classic tax evasion and secrecy instruments because no withholding tax was charged, and whoever physically held them in their hands was entitled to the income and capital. The Euromarkets got a large boost in 1965 when U.S. President Johnson, worried about Vietnam-era deficits, tried to restrain U.S. companies from sending capital abroad to invest overseas: in response, U.S. corporate giants started seeking funding from Euromarket centres such as Luxembourg for their non-U.S. investments.
Meanwhile, Luxembourg banks enjoyed a growing stream of individual customers from neighbouring Germany, Belgium and France: a steady flow of middle-class or wealthier citizens from those countries who would present their bonds and attached coupons at local banks and be paid in cash, no questions asked.
Beth Krall, a banker who worked in a Luxembourg bank’s back office in the Eurodollar boom years, gave a flavour (Treasure Islands p216) of those times:
‘We were dealing with those “Belgian dentists” who keep bonds under the mattresses,’ Krall remembers. ‘Sometimes they all came in at once – what we called the coupon bus would arrive. They came from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, filling the lobby, spilling out the door, getting angry, waving their coupons and getting their cheques.’
The vaults held, among other things, enveloppes scellées (sealed envelopes) relating to ‘Henwees’ – HNWIs or high net worth individuals. ‘We didn’t know what the hell was in there,’ she said. ‘The private bankers and relationship managers put those things in there – we never had an inkling.’
Clients increasingly came from further afield too: American banks, along with German and Swedish ones (and others) rapidly moved in. Parallel to the Eurobond markets, Luxembourg widened its spectrum of activities to private banking and investment funds in particular.
Luxembourg’s regulatory laxity, tolerance of bearer bonds, secrecy and tax-free benefits has ATTRACTED SIGNIFICANT CRIMINALITY over the years.
It was no coincidence that the global fraudster BERNIE CORNFIELD established his first mutual fund in Luxembourg in 1962.
Later, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), widely regarded as THE MOST CORRUPT BANK IN HISTORY , incorporated itself jointly in Luxembourg and Cayman, (with headquarters in London.)
Each centre provided the tax-free status and required lack of scrutiny – allowing ￼￼￼BCCI to get involved in the financing of TERRORISM , DRUGS, SMUGGLING,terrorism, drugs smuggling, slavery, tax evasion, fraud, racketeering and much more.
12/12/2013 News from the BBC. At long last the culprits behind the banking scams from Iceland are getting their just desserts. It will not be long before we see the same happening to the crowd from Landsbanki Lu. We firmly believe that they and those following them in the Administration have a lot to answer for. Committing fraud deserves long prison sentences and by the look of it that is what we are going to see soon.
As victims these equity release schemes, dreamt up by these corrupt greedy bankers we deserve to see justice at long last. Not only have we been duped by the bankers, we have also been made to suffer by the administrator for a further 5 years as a result of her refusal to investigate the scheme and to protect us, the investors.
Former Icelandic bank bosses jailed
Four former bosses from the Icelandic bank Kaupthing have been sentenced to between three and five years in prison.
They are the former chief executive, the chairman of the board, one of the majority owners and the chief executive of the Luxembourg branch.
The four were accused of concealing the fact that a Qatari investor bought a stake in the firm with money lent by the bank itself.
He bought a 5.1% stake during the financial crisis in 2008.
The four sentenced are Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson the former chief executive, Sigurdur Einarsson, former chairman of the board, Olafur Olafsson, one of the majority owners and Magnus Gudmundsson the former chief executive of the Luxembourg branch.
They were also made to pay their own legal costs for the case, which amount to millions of pounds.
There were four charges all relating to the purchase of the shares by Sheikh Al Thani from Qatar.
The prosecutor said the deal had influenced the bank’s share price. He also said the loans provided for the deal were illegal.
Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander was the UK arm of Kaupthing Bank – the largest of the Icelandic banks that went into administration in October 2008.
According to the Icelandic media, the charges state that the deal was done by first depositing a loan from Kaupthing bank into shell companies in the British Virgin Islands.
The money then went from there to a Cypriot based company called Choice, which was owned by Olafsson, Al Thani and Al-Thani’s adviser. From there it was moved to another firm called Q Iceland Finance, also owned by Al Thani, and then finally ended up back in the bank to pay for the shares.
It was never publicly stated that the company owned by Olafsson was party to the deal.
Al Thani did not testify but he gave a statement to the prosecutors. In it he said he did not know of any direct involvement by Olafsson to the deal. Al Thani’s lawyers, who made an agreement with Kaupthing’s administrators, said he considered himself to have been deceived.
From our own correspondent 27/11/2013
FINANCIAL TERRORISM & ASSET STRIPPING
Shocking ASSET STRIPPING by RBS and Landsbanki Luxembourg as FINANCIAL TERRORISM continues UNPUNISHED.
Horrific scandals are revealed and yet the abuse continues uncontrolled and unpunished, whilst abusing Banks are protected.
Lives, families and businesses are destroyed, DEMOCRACY drowns, JUSTICE fails, TRUTH is trashed and RESPECT is gone and still the governments, the judiciary and the regulatory authorities play ‘OSTRICH IN THE SAND’, as they keep the Financial Terrorists protected under their wings and do nothing for the consumers who are paying them to do their jobs properly and dutifully.
Systemic and INSTITUTIONAL abuse, ASSET STRIPPING of small and large businesses and even old aged pensioners who were otherwise healthy have been DELIBERATELY financially STRESSED, so that the banks could STRIP THEM OF THEIR ASSETS and companies and families would be destroyed forever.
All this, whilst the Financial Terrorists and their colluding partners in crime in the Government and judiciary help them to remain RICH, POWERFUL and UNPUNISHED.
People do not expect banks to STEAL THEIR HOMES and businesses by lying and manipulating accounts to artificially and DELIBERATELY STRESS the accounts and be helped by LAX JUDICIARY and LAX REGULATORS who protect the criminal abusive banks and not the consumers.
This IS Financial Terrorism.
Much is said and done to protect citizens from all terrorism EXCEPT FINANCIAL TERRORISM, which is destroying the world today. You only have to look at the RBS banking scandal and the Landsbanki Luxembourg administration scandal to see everything that is wrong and WHY.
Banks are failing the young and small businesses. They are failing essential businesses which are vital to our lives, and they are failing to help potentially good businesses to be able to start up.
Democracy in Europe cannot exist if Financial Terrorism and all those who are protecting it by using FOXY methods and abusive LAXITY of Laws and judiciary are allowed to continue allowing financial terrorism to destroy democracy.
There are 2 examples of why this Financial Terrorism is not being stopped and is continuing as if there is “NO PROBLEM in the file”, as Yvette Hamilius, the infamous Luxembourg lawyer would say.
1. The Badly run bank becomes a BANKSTER BANK enabled by COLLUDING helping hands who prefer to stay on the right side of useful Banksters rather than the citizens who are paying them to do a job of protecting them as clients and consumers.
2. The deliberately negligent REGULATION AUTHORITIES become COLLUDING helping hands ENABLING the Bankster Bank to sell TOXIC products to clients who are lied to and given false information.
3. LICENCES ARE GIVEN TO TOXIC PRODUCTS unfit for the consumer.
The perfect example of this deliberate poisoning of European pensioners by the CSSF of Luxembourg passing TOXIC ‘Equity Release product’ and giving them a license to poison at will across Europe and making an illegal product LEGAL in Luxembourg.
The CSSF stoops so low as to give a license to a TOXIC product in their country so that all THE REST OF EUROPE, (except their own country) gets poisoned and destroyed by a product that THEY, as a regulatory authority have passed as fit for consumption in Europe and given a license to.
Then Luxembourg strips the assets with the help of the foxy who sneak around European law, using Luxembourg Law as a PASSPORT TO CRIME.
4. USING LUXEMBOURG LAW AS A PASSPORT TO CRIME cannot be accepted in Europe.
This is the Example Landsbanki Luxembourg administration has shown us for the last 5 years.
The people of Luxembourg are told that everything that is going on is OK under Luxembourg law!
The good people of Luxembourg are being lied to.
The Luxembourg administrator has breached European law and abused the employees in the administration of Landsbanki case and continues to abuse the ex-clients as ASSET STRIPPING and not reporting false accounting and manipulation which lead to strong suspicions of money laundering are IGNORED.
5. This is the Example Landsbanki Luxembourg and the CSSF who both FAILED the consumers/ clients by enabling a toxic product destined to STRIP the ASSETS of the consumer and at the same time enable the failing banks to use the combined value of ASSETS and PORTFOLIOS to show FALSE 170% assets to the Central Banks in order to MISLEAD the Central Bank.
6. FALSE information was given, to secure an illegal irresponsible loan with taxpayers money to a FAILED, delinquent bank when it was already INSOLVENT.
Europe must examine the MOST DISGRACEFUL cases of RBS Royal Bank of Scotland to see the hundreds of individual cases of abuse by a Bank.
Europe must examine the Landsbanki Luxembourg ADMINISTRATION scandal under two powerful women who have been using nonconforming Luxembourg Law to to ENABLE the ASSET STRIPPING exercise the Luxembourg Haphazard HAMILIUS administration lawyer sees as “NO PROBLEM or fraud visible in this file “ .
“ILS ONT SIMPLEMENT RATÉ LA COCHE”, “ILS ONT SIMPLEMENT RATÉ LE TRAIN”: quote by Yvette Hamilius.
The infamous quote which will go down in European Judicial History as a unique quote to explain away serious abuse of European pensioners and FOXY ASSET STRIPPING using Luxembourg’s nonconforming laws and ACUTE LAXITY as an excuse for legalizing Crime by abuse of power and ALL THINGS UGLY.
The previous government knew very well the Insolvency Laws and the Laws protecting the Banksters poisoning sprees were IMPROPER, but did nothing about it as they were too busy being IMPORTANT in Europe to bother about the improprieties causing damage to their own country and to the vulnerable citizens of Europe, to business and to the economy of all others but the bankers.
Now the OLD Government inflated for so long by ARROGANCE and FALSE IMPORTANCE, as it neglected to put things right in Luxembourg, suddenly DEFLATED when the abuses and the scandals surfaced, thanks to the courage of a very few people who dared voice the TRUTH the OLD government wanted kept quiet.
Now the NEW government has the very difficult job of trying to put right the serious damage the last government has done by NEGLECT and giving a cloak of POWER to people who were doing a bad job.
Small businesses are killed off. Talents are shoved aside. They young are not helped whilst less qualified bankers get rewards, salaries and bonuses for doing a terrible job and do not get punished, imprisoned or fired as such professions as surgeons, doctors, nurses, professors, teachers and all those who are essential for our survival like ambulance, fire services would do if THEY did a bad job.
There is SYSTEMATIC ABUSE by the Institutions we elect and put into place because they are all protecting those who are practicing financial terrorism and those protecting them.
The disgraceful Bank Scandals and the NEGLECT of the Politicians, Regulatory authorities and Judiciary to punish those responsible means that democracy is FAILING and Institutions are DYSFUNCTIONAL.
The real problem is that the Top Cats in the Finance sectors are so cloaked in GREED that they want INSTANT RENUMERATION and know nothing of DELAYED GRATIFICATION, FAIR PLAY and HONOURABLE ETHICS.
The weak and confused Politicians have become dancing poodles for the overrated bankers whose GREED and need for INSTANT GRATIFICATION has led them to make such serious mistakes that few students in Economics schools could do a worse job.
The bankers do not have half the intelligence of other professions who train for many more years than a banker does and yet it is they who have decided they ruled the world.
Is this not the fault of the Politicians and the Judiciary who have let them get away with murder and not punished them for their crimes?
Bankers should not be controlling the Political process and ruling the world.
It is the responsible judiciary and the Politicians to ensure there is PERSONAL PROSECUTION of people who are FAILURES at the top of banks, of people who are FAILURES in the judiciary, of people who are FAILURES in the Political arena as they have covered-up CRIME and abuse of the people who have employed them to do a job properly and honestly.
LACK OF PROSECUTION of these delinquent people who think they are not only TOO POWERFUL TO PUNISH but also TOO POWERFUL and TO JAIL should be
OUT OF THE QUESTION.
Democracy must be revived and justice restored in Europe and this can only happen if those who have abused are PUNISHED, however important they have decided they are as it is THEY who have enabled FINANCIAL TERRORISM.
Investors sue Royal Bank of Scotland and former directors
Action group launches claim against Fred Goodwin, ex-chairman Tom McKillop, Johnny Cameron and ex-finance director Guy Whittaker