TJN’s Markus Meinzer looks at why bank reporting obligations are vital for AIE
21 August 2012
Salman Shaheen - ITR
The Tax Justice Network and CCFD-Terre Solidaire have a new report out today exploring lessons for registries of trusts and foundations and for improving automatic tax information exchange (AIE). International Tax Review talks to the report’s author, Markus Meinzer, on the deficiencies he uncovered, the positive examples he’s found and the challenges to increasing transparency over beneficial ownership.
International Tax Review: Why do you believe bank reporting obligations and bank account registries are a precondition to automatic information exchange?
Markus Meinzer: The overwhelming majority of financial wealth is ultimately held in a bank account or a safe deposit box. In the absence of bank account registries there is a risk that any AIE-system of banking data will not cover all relevant financial accounts, which invites creative non-compliance. The recent banking scandals have shown that some bankers were very creative in hiding subsets of accounts from reporting obligations, for example under the Qualified Intermediaries (QI) programme.
A more recent example concerns the life insurance wrappers offered by Credit Suisse Life Bermuda to German tax evaders. Credit Suisse ran bank accounts in Switzerland in the name of another financial institution, the Credit Suisse Life Insurance, without identifying any beneficial owner. Credit Suisse Life Bermuda in turn provided these life insurance...
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