Socialist rule of law

August 18, 2014

At one level I feel sorry for the Chinese Communist Party when people complain about its horrific record on the rule of law. The CCP has never promised what we understand by rule of law. It is only committed to ‘socialist rule of law’, which is why the Party calls it that. Socialist rule of law means that the interests of the Party — or what it thinks are its interests from day to day — come before everything else, including stuff like evidence and what the written law says.

If you followed the recent trial and conviction of private investigator Peter Humphrey in Shanghai, then Georgetown University law professor Don Clarke’s analysis of the court transcripts is well worth a read. Humphrey’s case was high-profile but essentially low level. It gives a good idea of what to expect if you are a gweilo who gets ensnared in China’s ongoing campaign to give multi-national companies (and anyone connected with them like Humphrey) a periodic kicking.

The standard features exhibited by the court proceedings are:

1. Expend most court time ‘proving’ facts that are not in dispute by either side. This makes the proceeding look like a legal case. (Even then, the case only took one day.)

2. Bend the law under which the case is being prosecuted into whatever shape you fancy. Here, Humphrey was prosecuted under a law designed to punish government and public sector workers for selling private information to which they have access. Humphrey was the recipient of such information. He has been prosecuted. The providers have not.

3. When passing sentence, don’t worry about sentencing precedents if you have a point to prove. Humphrey got 2.5 years for a relatively small number of transactions. As Clarke shows, in other recent cases in Shanghai other defendants got only suspended prison terms for massively greater infringements.

As typically happens in these cases, Humphrey made a grovelling public admission of ‘general’ guilt before the trial, almost certainly on the advice of his lawyer. The idea is that you will get leniency. I am not sure about this argument. The maximum term prescribed by law is 3 years. I would have preferred not to do the ‘confession’, stand up in court and point out the hypocrisy of the proceedings (in the politest possible terms) and take the extra 6 months.

Meanwhile, lest you feel sorry for gweilos, spare a thought for recently released human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. According to his wife, after his 3 years inside, he can’t even speak intelligibly any longer. Now that is your old-school socialist rule of law…

 

Gao Zhisheng’s wife wants him to seek treatment in US after ‘horrific torture’ in Chinese jail

Wife pleads with China to let her ‘underfed and psychologically abused’ husband travel to America to seek medical help and be with his family

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 12:34pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 12:40pm
Agence France-Presse in Washington

Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng suffered malnutrition and psychological abuse in prison, his wife said as she called for Beijing to let him seek treatment in the United States.

Gao, who has defended some of China’s most vulnerable people such as underground Christians, aggrieved miners and members of the banned Falungong spiritual movement, was released last week after serving a three-year prison sentence.

His wife, who fled with their two children to the US in 2009, said on Wednesday that she learned Gao had lost 22.5kg in weight after being fed only a slice of bread and cabbage each day.

Gao can no longer speak intelligibly after being deprived of any interaction with people and kept in a small cell with little light and no reading material or television, she said.

“I am completely devastated by what the Chinese government has done to my husband. The only thing I feared more than him being killed was his suffering relentless and horrific torture and being kept alive,” the wife, Geng He, said in a statement.

Gao remains under round-the-clock surveillance of Chinese authorities at his sister-in-law’s home in the western Xinjiang region, where he was imprisoned, according to Freedom Now, a rights group that is offering him free legal representation.

Saying that Gao has been prevented from seeing a doctor since his release, Geng urged the United States to press China to allow him to come to travel.

“If President Xi Jinping has any sense of decency or humanity, after crushing my husband both physically and psychologically, the least he could do is allow me as a devoted wife to care for him,” Geng said.

Despite Gao’s release, China still imprisons a number of high-profile critics including Liu Xiaobo, the writer and democracy advocate who won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Public-school boy rehouses Amazon tribe on half-term break, gets Oxbridge place

August 17, 2014

Will Hutton drones on a bit sometimes, but it is hard to disagree with this analysis of Britain’s education system, published in Sunday’s Observer. Hutton recommends action against those who buy themselves out of society through private education. It is necessary not just for moral, but for economic reasons. However I reckon it will take another 20 years — if we are lucky. 

 

Hutton:

Believe the hype and Britain is on the verge of a great levelling. Of course it is good news to learn that 1,400 more students from disadvantaged homes will be going to university this year than last. But it is hardly the end of the class divide, as some reports have claimed; 1,400 represents a drop in the ocean compared to the hundreds of thousands from more advantaged homes. The gulf in expectation and life chances between rich and poor remains enormous.

In fact, given the expensive and comprehensive efforts that go into promoting access, anything less than that figure would have been disappointing, even disastrous. Any university that wants to charge more than the basic fee of £6,000 for full-time study or £4,500 for part-time study (which is every one of Britain’s universities) has to sign an access agreement with the Office for Fair Access (OFFA). The university sets out as a quid pro quo detailed plans about the promotion of access. There has been an avalanche of initiatives.

It could be summer schools – the Sutton Trust alone offered summer schools for 1,900 disadvantaged students this summer, joining with 10 universities as part of their access agreements. Or it could be rebates from fees. Every part of the higher education system is keenly aware that it has to do more to attract students from disadvantaged homes (and I write as principal of Hertford College, Oxford). They are aware, too, that Offa is getting increasingly tough about its access agreements. Moreover, they desperately want more disadvantaged students as a matter of principle. An open-minded visitor from Mars might ask, given all this effort over so many years, why has the return been so paltry?

The Independent Commission on Fees (which I chair) closely analysed recent data in a report published last week. From 2010 to 2013, the numbers of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds attending the 13 most selective universities increased by 9%. For the 30 most selective universities, this figure was 12%. Good news. But the numbers entering from the most advantaged backgrounds also increased over the same period – up by 5% and 14% for the top 13 and 30 universities respectively. So there has been a slight narrowing of the entry gap at the most selective universities from 2010 to 2013, but it remains extremely large.

In raw numbers, in 2013, 11,695 students from the most advantaged backgrounds entered the top 13 universities, but only 1,232 from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, an almost tenfold difference. The ratio drops to just over seven times for the 30 most selective universities. For the entire university sector, the difference in 2013 stood at 2.8. You can bet that very few of the 1,400 more students going to university from disadvantaged homes will be going to the top 13 universities.

This matters. There is growing concern that too much of Britain’s elite sport is occupied by athletes educated at private schools: for example, 41 % of the medals won at the 2012 Olympics went to the privately educated. We know that sporting talent will be randomly distributed among the 700,000 babies born every year. Yet the British system ensures that it will be those lucky enough to be born into households rich enough to educate them privately that will have the best chance to lift their natural sporting ability to Olympic standards. By any moral code, this is not fair, but beyond morality this is a huge squandering of talent.

The same is true of intellectual and academic ability. The Sutton Trust reports that four private schools and one sixth form college in Cambridge send as many students to Oxbridge as nearly 2,000 state schools. Are we to believe that native academic ability is uniquely concentrated in the children of parents rich enough to afford to pay the fees (or live in the catchment area of Hills Road sixth form college, Cambridge)? The differences even come through in personal statements accompanying university applications: 70% of students from private schools with the same grades are generally admitted to top universities compared to 50% from state schools. The key difference is personal statements, testifying to vast differences in cultural capital and experience. Manchester University’s Steven Jones, for example, observes the different impression conveyed by accounts of work experience that involve a Saturday job or a school visit to a business, on the one hand, with a personal statement that cites work with a local radio station, with a City law firm or a designer, on the other.

What is to be done? One of the worries about the £9k fee regime was that it would deter applications overall, disproportionately affecting disadvantaged students. It has certainly devastated part-time higher education – there are now, incredibly, 100,000 fewer candidates studying this way, traditionally a popular choice for those from moderate- and low-income homes. Mature student numbers are also well down. But application rates from 18-year-olds for full-time education to English, Welsh and Northern Irish universities are all up on 2010.

Part of the reason is the recognition of the value of higher education, part is the state of the jobs market for 18-year-olds with wages falling. But also in play might be some reservation about taking on so much debt. For some 18-year-olds, repayment even of tens of thousands of pounds can seem very distant – in a far-off world of adulthood after university when, in any case, your earnings have to be above £21k to start paying. But, equally, for others, the prospect of a chunk of debt might be offputting. Distant prospect or not, less debt is plainly better than more.

One obvious way of persuading more kids from poorer homes to apply would be to universalise the patchwork quilt of access agreement rebates into a standard lower fee for disadvantaged applicants. .

So a skewed fee regime would help, but the reality is that differential university applications reflect the desperately unequal society Britain has become – and also reflect the ongoing offence to any system of morality presented by such widespread private education.

We should open up private schools, invest disproportionately in state schools in weaker neighbourhoods and pay teachers as proper professionals. But above all we should be mobilising against inequality in all its manifestations – in housing, jobs, wages, access to the internet, sport and culture. There is no future for Britain other than as a smart society, and the more our people are enfranchised, the smarter we will be. Universities can, and will, play their part, but they can’t solve society-wide failures by themselves.

5,000 years…

August 10, 2014

 

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After three weeks here, I stand by the assertion that Taipei is the world’s most interesting and liveable Chinese city. However it would be wrong to suggest that Taipei’s free society, strong sense of community, respect for other people, good manners and superb food are not undergirded by the fundamental and immutable laws of a deeper Chinese culture, the one with 5,000 years of continuous history.

The quotidian evidence of this is surely the piety shown for small dogs, as demanded by the Analects of Confucius  (‘Exemplary persons would feel shame if their small dogs were not well-dressed, or their perambulators not in working order.’) The mainland has begun to rediscover its ancient respect for small pooches in recent years, but Taipei reveals how far there is still to go. Here, pooches are properly dressed in dresses, vests and nappies, and wheeled around in high-end canine perambulators purchased from designer doggy shops that can be found on almost every street.

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I have been told that the real reason why the tomb of Qinshihuangdi at Xi’an — close by the terracotta warriors — has never been opened is that this would disturb the souls of 8888 Celestial Poodles who were buried with the first emperor. All the stuff about mercury poisoning is a red herring.

 

 

 

Tribute in the bag

August 8, 2014

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Thailand’s latest junta, the National Council for Peace and Order (aka National Council for Underdevelopment as Usual), has confirmed it is committing to a US$23 billion high-speed rail investment. Beyond this I can find very few concrete details. But the expectation is that much of the construction work, as well as the rolling stock, signalling equipment, and even quite basic industrial inputs will be supplied by China. Late last year, before the junta got rid of Thaksin’s little sister, Chinese premier  Li Keqiang was down in Bangkok doing the hard sell. When the junta boys grabbed the reins of power they made a show of putting the deal that was then shaping up on hold. But a few months later it is back in play, albeit possibly with some cuts to the project specification suggested by this Bangkok Post article (see the references to lower speed services).

Although we know nothing of the Chinese financing terms, it looks like the Celestial Empire has done an effective number on its traditional south-east Asian tribute states. First they leaned on the Laotians, the poorest and most biddable group, to agree to the first leg from Kunming through their territory. Now they have the Thais in the bag. Officially, the Malaysians say high speed rail is too expensive for them. But my guess is that the Malaysian government will fold once construction starts on the Kunming to Bangkok legs and sign a deal. The Chinese an easily twist their arms by threatening to buy their palm oil and gas somewhere else. (When I saw Mahathir late last year in KL he told me that he personally he is already in favour of a Chinese high-speed deal, so Beijing has one still-loud voice singing its song already.)

Who is all this investment good news for? It is good news for China’s rail equipment and rail construction firms, into which Beijing has sunk vast sums in order to master high-speed rail technology. And it is good news for bourgeois types like myself, who want fast, clean travel between their preferred Nanyang beaches and mountain retreats and the panda lairs of south-west China.

But we shouldn’t pretend it is good news for south-east Asian economic development. By the time there is a high-speed link all the way from Kunming to Singapore — which could now easily be completed within 10 years — the projects will have cost at least US$60 billion in today’s money. That expenditure will have done almost nothing to increase south-east Asia’s grasp of manufacturing technology, or even its project management capacity, because all the value-added goes to China. At a time when south-east Asia desperately needs to increase manufacturing employment to provide jobs for countries’ young populations, the China high-speed rail deals instead reveal the developmental bankruptcy of regional politicians. Their only strategy in addition to being a proto-colonial resource base for China, is to become a tourist destination for a new Chinese middle class.

 

More

This from Geoff Wade at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, though I am not convinced all the numbers quoted are accurate.

What is not to like?

July 31, 2014

Summer in Taiwan. I came out two weeks ago with two kids and flew on to Penghu — the ‘Pescadore’ islands between Taiwan and China. Fortunately not on the flight that crashed that week. Clean air, clean beaches, and a diet of oysters and the odd beer.imageimageimage

Then we moved back to Taipei. Fantastic public transport, reasonably priced Chinese language summer camp, sitting in the hot springs at Beitou with a bunch of old boys and girls with flannels on their heads, wandering through night markets and shooting balloons with air pistols, chewing the fat with thoughtful, relaxed, helpful people. Chinese people at ease with themselves. Imagine that!

They tell me they lost the development race with Korea. Not really, I say. You lost the economic development race. But you won the overall development race. In Seoul they are all pissed out of their heads from Monday till Sunday, working 50 hours a week. Here, people are drinking fresh fruit juice and iced tea, eating the best food in east Asia, going to the temple or church, planning a holiday in Laos or Myanmar (it is striking how many people are wholly uninterested in visiting the mainland), reading a good book.

To be sure, I exaggerate for effect. But I honestly suspect that Taiwan is presently the most liveable place in east Asia. The parks, the public pools, the transport system, the schools all work in the general interest. Taipei retains the architectural charm of Tokyo because there are narrow streets but little high-rise construction, but it is more interesting because the Chinese are always up to something. It’s individuality with social responsibility. The losers are males of working age who are compelled to go to the mainland for work. But everyone else is here having a nice time. And there are pleasantly few gweilos of the irritating sort, because they have moved to China, or else stayed in Hong Kong or Singapore in order to better pool their wisdom and thereby earn their clients less money than the market index pays.

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Thinking back to Indonesia and Jokowi, if he wants to see what a manufacturing-plus-infrastructure strategy could do for his country, he should pop up here before he assumes the presidency. This is south-east Asia with dignity, built by small-time manufacturers like Jokowi. The Vietnamese, who are the only south-east Asian state on track to replicate this model, might also come over to remind themselves of the future. It ain’t too shabby.

Jokowi, thankfully

July 27, 2014

This week’s confirmation that Jokowi won the Indonesian presidential election is a relief. The alternative was an administration under Prabowo and his band of western-educated, elitist carpet-baggers.

Indonesia avoided the negative outcome. But it cannot be said that Jokowi guarantees a fundamental change of direction, as many foreign journalists would like to believe. Jokowi is beholden to the PDI-Struggle party of Sukarno’s daughter Megawati, and to the network of Vice President Jusuf Kalla, themselves different stripes of the Indonesian establishment.

Nor does Jokowi have a policy agenda. He stood as an ordinary person who is not corrupt. But a government that rules relatively cleanly and a little more efficiently will be nothing more than a reprise of SBY’s first term, before the ex-general’s team was consumed by corruption-as-usual.

The real game changer in Indonesia would be a manufacturing strategy that creates more semi-skilled employment opportunities and develops indigenous technological skills. An infrastructure build-out would complement this by creating demand for domestically-manufactured inputs. But such a policy shift is probably too much to expect. Since the Asian crisis and IMF intervention Indonesia has settled on a consumer-focused banking system and a proto-colonial raw material export economy. There are lots of vested interests that surround this arrangement. It would be a very big surprise if Jokowi were to upset the IMF’s apple cart.

Choosing poverty

July 2, 2014

Egypt’s General el-Sisi is retaining Tony Blair to advise on economic development. The bill will be picked up by offshore financial centre, the United Arab Emirates. A supporting act will be played by what used to be called Booz and Co., now comically rebranded as Strategy&.

The failure of the Arab Spring in Egypt is complete. Get ready for more poverty, more underdevelopment, and a few multinational companies picking off choice contracts. And then, of course, there is the continuing terrorism that all this implies.

If General el-Sisi wants a book by a general about the basics of effective economic development, he can get a copy of Park Chung Hee’s Our Nation’s Path, and preferably The Country, the Revolution, and I as well, from a decent second-hand bookseller. Indeed there is/was a tattered copy of both, plus Collected Speeches, here for US$33.

On reading these slim but cogent volumes, General el-Sisi would realise the first thing he needed to do was to get rid of Blair, the UAE and Strategy&. Ideally, he’d let Blair come over and then lock him away, thus protecting the rest of the Middle East.

But of course el-Sisi will do no such thing because he’s not in the business of developing the Egyptian economy. He’s in the business of Egyptian business as usual, and killing to that end. Tony’s advice on the Mayfair property market may well be useful.

But mind the bomb.

No, no, no

July 1, 2014

The Guardian, which has reported Sollecito-Knox pretty well, falls asleep on the job. Sorry to those who don’t give a damn about Italy, but this complaint to the readers’ editor explains:

I ask you to take a  look at the 1 July Guardian story (no byline) about the appeal of Raffaele Sollecito. It asserts (par 4) that Knox and Sollecito have previously always had a ‘rigidly joint defence’. This is 180 degrees from the truth. Part of the reason for the original conviction was that they did not have a rigidly joint defence. If Sollecito’s pending appeal implies the possibility of Knox’s guilt as part of his defence, it will in fact be consistent with the line his lawyers have pursued in the past.

If you link to my blog entries on this subject and scroll down to September 19 2012, you will find a germane entry which references, among other things, much more accurate reporting by your own paper.
I am not sure if you have just picked up an agency report here, but a court case carrying a life sentence deserves better treatment.

South-east England, offshore financial centre

June 9, 2014

I should try to start posting to this blog again. Here is a story about the latest chapter in the re-modelling of south-east England as Singapore. Osborne should get on with those mega-casinos that New Labour promised. Too busy checking his house price and portfolio, no doubt.

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Britain becomes haven for U.S. companies keen to cut tax bills

LONDON (Reuters) – Nothing about the narrow cream-coloured lobby at 160 Aldersgate Street in the City of London financial district gives a hint of its role at the centre of the offshore oil industry.

That’s because the building is occupied by a law firm. Yet, on paper at least, it is also home to Rowan Companies, one of the largest operators of drilling rigs in the world.

In 2012, Rowan, which has a market value of $4 billion (2.38 billion pounds), shifted its legal and tax base from the United States to Britain. But not much else.

“We changed our corporate structure and we’re legally domiciled in the UK but our headquarters and our management team remain in the U.S.,” Suzanne Spera, Rowan’s Investor Relations Director said in a telephone interview from Houston.

“It has been positive. We take advantage of trying to be competitive with our effective tax rate.”

Indeed, Rowan filings say the shift helped cut the company’s effective tax rate to 3.3 percent in 2013 from 34.6 percent in 2008. Spera said Rowan complies with all UK tax rules.

A government spokeswoman for the Treasury said recent changes to the tax rules were aimed at supporting “genuine business investment”.

“The UK is not a tax haven. In 2015, our main rate of corporation tax will be 20 percent, well above the levels seen in tax havens,” she said in an emailed statement.

In the last year around a dozen major U.S. companies including media group Liberty Global, banana group Chiquita and drug maker Pfizer unveiled plans to shift their tax bases overseas outside the United States.

Historically, when U.S. companies wanted to cut their tax bill they usually reincorporated in Caribbean Islands or Switzerland.

However, following recent legal changes whereby Britain largely stopped seeking to tax corporate profits reported in other countries, including tax havens, companies are increasingly choosing the UK as a corporate base.

President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats have proposed measures to stem the flow of so-called “inversions”, although Congressional gridlock on tax reform means new barriers to overseas moves are unlikely anytime soon.

There is no official list of companies which have moved their tax base to Britain but government officials, tax advisors and lawyers said at least seven had re-based to London — Aon Plc, CNH Global N.V., Delphi Automotive Plc, Ensco Plc, Liberty Global Plc, Noble Corp. Plc.

Drugs group Pfizer and Omnicom had planned to transfer their tax domicile to Britain, while retaining U.S. headquarters, but the takeover deals which were meant to facilitate this recently failed.

U.S. and UK filings and other company statements from the seven that relocated showed that while redomiciling to London can cut a company’s tax bill, it usually involves relocating just a handful of senior executives — and sometimes not even that many.

“The UK has made a very clear policy decision to engage in tax competition for multinationals. It’s fair to say it’s rivalling Ireland,” said Stephen Shay Professor of Law at Harvard University who has testified to Congressional investigations into corporate tax reform.

“When I go to tax conferences now, I hear people talk about the UK as a tax haven.”

Bernhard Gilbey, tax partner at law firm Squires Sanders said tax competition was common across countries and that companies were within the law and indeed faced competitive pressure to structure themselves in response to such governmental incentives.

The companies said that while tax was a consideration in their moves, commercial reasons such as the desire to be closer to customers was also a factor.

 

PAPER MOVES

British finance minister George Osborne has welcomed the trend of U.S. companies such as insurance group Aon redomiciling to Britain, saying it reflects how the government has made the country a more attractive place to do business.

In November, Ernst & Young, one of a number of tax advisors which advocated the tax changes that made Britain a magnet for U.S. corporations, published a survey saying that 60 multinational companies were eyeing a move to the UK.

EY said this could create over 5,000 jobs and bring in over 1 billion pounds a year in additional corporation tax, the UK’s corporate income tax.

However, a Reuters review of company filings and other statements from the seven companies, news reports and interviews with tax advisors and company executives, suggested corporate moves may not mean so many new jobs.

Ensco and Noble said they had each created around 30 positions between them, including moving their chief executives to London. Aon declined to say how many UK jobs it created, but filings showed its CEO moved to London and that the newly incorporated London-based parent company employed 16 people last year.

None of the most senior officers of Delphi, as listed in its annual report, are based in Britain, the company confirmed. A spokeswoman declined to say if any less senior roles had been shifted to Britain.

A spokesman for CNH, which shifted its tax base to London last year, said the company was currently scouting for a London office where some senior managers would be based. He declined to say how many or which roles would be based there.

Liberty declined to say if it created new jobs in Britain connected with its re-incorporation. Filings at the UK companies register say CEO Michael Fries resides in the United States while media reports cited the company as saying Liberty’s takeover of Virgin Media, which was cited as part of the reason for re-basing to Britain, would lead to 600 job cuts.

All the companies said they continued to employ large numbers of staff at and invest in long-established operating subsidiaries in Britain. They declined to identify any new investments tied to their corporate relocation.

Lawyers said the small number of new jobs reflected how Britain would give companies the benefits of its tax regime in return for a less substantial investment than was required by some other countries — including countries previously accused by U.S. and European lawmakers of facilitating tax avoidance.

“In terms of governance and presence, it requires actual substance if you want to set up in the Netherlands, whereas you can achieve a UK residence just by having board meetings in the UK,” said Isaac Zailer, global head of tax at law firm Herbert Smith.

The seven companies Reuters examined had a combined 73 directors. Only 14 percent reside in Britain, up from 4 percent before the companies moved, company filings, records at the UK companies register and other company statements show.

For the six previously U.S.-incorporated companies which shifted to Britain, 80 percent of directors continued to reside in the United States after the move.

 

NO TAX WINDFALL

Accounts for the companies also show little benefit to the UK exchequer from the corporate relocations.

Aon and Liberty Global – the only two companies which published figures for group UK tax payments – reported UK corporation tax credits for 2013.

Ensco had a UK tax charge of $200,000 last year. That included tax on profits from its UK operating subsidiaries which have revenues of around $300 million a year.

Delphi Automotive’s most senior UK corporate entity is a partnership, which does not have to pay tax. The company declined to say if other British units paid any corporation tax but said in its annual report that it had UK tax assets which could be used to offset future taxable profits.

CNH does not publish UK tax payments. Its main UK operating unit reported a tax credit in 2012, the last period for which accounts were available.

Rowan and Noble declined to say if they paid any UK tax in relation to their UK head office activities. Rowan, Ensco and Noble’s North Sea rig leasing businesses have combined revenues of $1 billion a year but have paid almost no tax over the past 20 years, a separate Reuters investigation showed last month.

What attracts companies like Rowan to Britain is not a headline tax rate that is half the U.S. level but the way the UK has effectively stopped taxing profits reported by UK companies’ overseas subsidiaries.

The government introduced the measures in the 2012 budget to “better reflect the way that businesses operate in a global economy” and encourage investment in Britain.

This means companies can shift profits out of the countries where their employees and customers are based, into tax havens, and then bring the money back to Britain and pay it out to shareholders without paying any tax – something that would not be possible under U.S. or German tax law.

“For offshore profits, the UK can literally be a nil tax jurisdiction, which obviously compares very well with traditional tax havens,” Kevin Phillips, International Tax Partner, Baker Tilly said.

The UK is also unusual in not charging withholding tax on dividend payments and, for now at least, offers an air of respectability.

“Over the last couple of years, companies that have used jurisdictions like Ireland, the Netherlands or Luxemburg have found themselves at the wrong end of some poor publicity for their attitude to tax,” said Gilbey.

“It looks less likely that that would be the case if they put themselves in the UK because we’re not generally considered a tax haven.”

 

Ping pong

January 31, 2014

In Florence, they have re-convicted Sollecito and Knox.

My views on this case have not changed so I won’t add to what is already filed under the Italy to Avoid tab.

The Guardian has a video interview with Knox prior to the verdict that is embedded into its news coverage.

I would also recommend Knox’s book about her experiences which I think is very good and has sold very well. It isn’t available in the UK because of spineless publishers (they would say the UK’s litigant-friendly libel law), but you should be able to order from Amazon in the US or somesuch.

 


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