Saturday, March 23, 2013

The French Also Has Tax Problems

Singapore is safe, they said
Mediapart is a French news website founded in 2008 by Edwy Plenel, a former managing editor of Le Monde. In January Mediapart claimed to have evidence that the Budget Minister in charge of clamping down on tax evasion, Jérôme Cahuzac, had held an undeclared account at the Swiss bank UBS for 20 years until 2010. Shortly before he was made president of the National Assembly finance committee in February 2010, he travelled to Switzerland to close the Geneva-based account and transfer the money to Singapore.

An alleged recording of a conversation between Cahuzac and his wealth manager in 2000 about his embarrassment is telling: "What bothers me is that I still have an account open with UBS … UBS is not necessarily the most hidden of banks." It would appear that he has more confidence in Singapore's growing international reputation for discretion of the unsavoury kind.  Cahuzac has resigned after being placed under formal investigation for tax fraud and money laundering.

The Paris public prosecutor's office said in a statement: "The investigations carried out as part of the preliminary inquiry must continue from now in a more appropriate form." The opening of an official inquiry would enable an examining magistrate to officially request information from Switzerland and Singapore.

Meanwhile the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has responded strongly to the Global Witness film on corruption in Sarawak, denying allegations of banks here playing safe haven for ill gotten wealth, "Contrary to what was claimed in the video, Singapore has to date provided fully the information requested by Malaysia for tax purposes." That could mean, if Malaysia didn't ask, MAS wouldn't tell. And the request had to be specific, queries about Alvin Chong's mechanism to allow foreign investors to circumvent existing company laws may not be entertained i.e. no fishing expedition. Presumably, the French detectives will have do their homework too, before being extended unfettered cooperation by local authorities.

Recently Lee Kuan Yew told some 600 people at the Shangri-La Hotel dialogue moderated by Standard Chartered Bank's group CEO Peter Sands that Singapore's role as a financial centre is secure for now, "It would be very stupid of us to shake this confidence." The last thing the 89-year-old would like to do is to issue another "I stand corrected" statement.


  1. thank you for highlighting this. the local papers have been strangely silent. BT did report it, but seems to have left out the Singapore connecton

  2. Formal legaity is the card played by the powers that be. Tax offences are not, under the law, extraditable offences. People like the French Minister and the Sarawak Chief Minister know or are well adised of that. You will now understand why the MAS response is limited to saying that they have given full information to the Malayians leaving the real questions. unanswered.This strategy is well analysed in Jothi Rajah`s recent book, The Authoritarian rule of Law highlighted by Alex Au in his recent blog.

  3. Rule by law or Rule of Law??

    Seems that as justice goes, there is a distinct line separating laws that regulate economic activities and laws that regulate social and political ones.

    One is less specific therefore allowing freedom of interpretation while the other has clear boundaries.

  4. Singapore government people are slackers. You have to put evidence on the platter and spoon feed them before they ask PM permission to launch an investigation. That is why some people never get caught and some brazenly practise nepotism and cronyism. Just look no further than the PM himself.

  5. Why are they still squeezing every drop out of Singaporeans when they are making so much money? If they use our country to make such money, the least they can do is share it with us. Regularly give us hong baos la.....

  6. Interesting analysis of MAS response here.

  7. Good job done by Global Witness to expose all the shady dealings in Sarawak and Singapore. My wish is that they will do a sting operation in Singapore.

    But they should have gone the whole hog - buy the land, sign the agreements, make the payments. The evidence then will be irrefutable, and provide the seed to uncover everything else. As it stands, the guilty parties can deny all with half-truths or outright lies.

  8. PM said, "For a long time, we fought in principle against casinos. Finally, we were persuaded it’s big business and if we were not in it, someone else would be."

    So we can more or less conclude that in Singapore if there's big money to be made, principle can be dropped, casinos or not.

    Lo and behold, the rise of the "Sin" Gateway.

  9. Oh purleaassee... despite what MAS says, Singapore is a well known tax haven and utopia for money laundering. Not just for EU but for India, China and all over the world.

    PAP has clearly sold their moral integrity for $$$ or perhaps these Pigs in White didn't have any morals to begin with.

  10. Anonymous @3/23/2013 9:42 AM
    "Why are they still squeezing every drop out of Singaporeans when they are making so much money?"

    If they can bully us.
    And make the poor subsidize the rich.
    If they can freely do this.
    Why would they want to give us anything?

    Just be grateful that PAP don't sell you more things at "subsidized" prices.
    Otherwise you go bankrupt lor.

  11. MAS can deny anything. But looking at those court cases, it looks like they are only the tip of the iceberg.

    First they refuse to extradite those corrupt Indonesian bankers/businessmen. Then those corrupt politicians from Taiwan were exposed hiding their illicit funds here. Not forgetting those corrupt PRC civil servants buying condos & getting PR or citizenships here. And now those Malaysian crafty corporate lawyers from Sarawak admitting that it is so safe to do it in Singapore.

    With all these kind of exposures one can now raise the million$ question, has PAP gone to the dogs ?

  12. Yuppy, soon there will be auctions for Lamboginis and Ferraris, same ones or better than that driven by Mr Ma Chi!!

    So will Hollande send Inspecuer Poireau or Inspecteur Cluseau? Did not expect my guesss to be realized so quick: all the trusts set up in Switzerland thought to be fortresses for money disappearance acts and "unca sam-proof" was destroyed by IRS last week, and now they are going straight to the "new switzerland trusts" - MAS can fight Global Witness but can they syand up to Poireau and IRS? Poor Andy Xie, everyone knew he was correct for saying the red dot had been a laundering centre for Indon dirty money for years yet the familee still sacked him on behalf of his employer MS. Now the word will have a new name for the red dot: "dirty sling".

  13. I think if Singapore really keeps the money from illegal transactions such as in the French and Sarawak case, the financial system is not very stable. Other countries will pressure Singapore to cooperate and huge amount of money will exit the country. That may lead to disastrous economic collapse.

    Furthermore, this will affect the reputation of the country if the perception is Singapore helps criminals.

    I would prefer the economy to depend on more stable financial sources rather than shady money.

    1. Who knows? Maybe funds for Al Qaeda pass through here too?

  14. You & I have been prostituted since 1963 and will allow the PAP aka "Gahmen" to continue to do so into the sunset.

    "...and if we were not in it, someone else would be."

    This merely plays into our kiasu trait of missing the boat. We are indeed the kiasu people.. so kiasu that we believe everything being said by the gahmen is gospel.

    Please, think deeper whenever the gahmen says anything.. most of it is either "nothingness" or simply hogwash.

  15. dun play play .... our authority are really really really VERY VERY serious about such activities like money laundering here;

    try paying for your shares purchased, using cash (about $10,000) .... to have an idea of how stringent they are

    but i have no idea about multi-millions in bank transfers ... not rich enough to go thru the procedures

  16. They are sacrificing to serve the nation, if not they can be possibly the next Bill Gates or the Warren Buffrets, you know, with their capabilities?

    1. I literally laughed at this naive comment - can you list to me ALL PAP politicians now serving in the parliament what their salaries were like BEFORE they joined politics?

      How many of these Pigs in White were listed in Forbes richest and how many had shown the capacity to be the next Bill Gates or Warren Buffet?

      Let me answer this for you - NONE. Your point is a regurgitated argument given by the PAP to justify their ridiculous salaries. Using it without thinking just shows what a model answer regurgitating Singaporean drone you are. Try again.

  17. Wow, does any sinkie knows how rich are our sinkies worth?

    Forbes know? Muahaha.......

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