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April 06 , 2008

Offshore Apocalypse


This simple adage is enough to steer people away from dodgy salesmen trying to bamboozle them into buying used cars or vacation property. So why is it that educated people fail to apply the same logic when they are offered a chance to save on taxes through odd-named companies in obscure Caribbean islands or Alpine hamlets? Especially when taking advantage of such offers can bring criminal charges and jail time?
Offshore Apocalypse: The Collapse of the Tax Haven Industry
delivers a jolt of reality to people who have sunk their money into the multi-trillion dollar offshore tax-shelter business. This timely and incisive book exposes the tax haven industry for what it truly is – a vehicle for fraud. It lays bare the falsehoods that offshore promoters use to lure in clients – namely, that shell companies based in tax havens are a perfectly legal way for them to avoid tax obligations in their home countries. And it follows the fate of people who have taken these promises at face value – from the boardrooms of multinational companies to the prison cells where hundreds of them sit today.
Offshore Apocalypse written by a group of tax-law academics, tax auditors, compliance officers and tax lawyers under the pseudonym "An Oracle." The book does not promote the use of tax haven structures, but rather explains why using such companies is entirely illegal. The authors became alarmed by the number of clients they encountered who wanted to optimise their taxes by setting up fake companies in foreign tax havens. These firms would be nothing but a mailbox – one that could be shared by hundreds of other corporations whose owners are similarly trying to dodge taxes.
The authors prove the illegality of such schemes by dissecting international tax conventions authored by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, along with legal judgments handed down by national courts, the European Court of Justice and other judicial bodes. They explain, in plain English, why tax haven abuse is illegal; in many cases, it should have been considered illegal long ago, but state authorities have not enforced the laws effectively. The authors back up their findings by citing hundreds of links to legal documents, academic analyses and news articles.
Readers will discover:
•Why public anger over the 2008 financial crisis has forced world governments to launch an aggressive crackdown on people who avoid taxes through offshore schemes.
•How a lone whistleblower at Switzerland's biggest bank, UBS, brought disaster upon tax havens worldwide by alerting the U.S. Department of Justice to the bank's involvement in offshore tax shelters.
•How a group of undercover journalists contributed to putting one of Romania's top offshore company-registration agents behind bars.
•Why countries with developed law-enforcement systems may treat offshore "tax planning" as a form of money laundering – and charge offenders as part of criminal organisations.
Offshore Apocalypse is required reading for anyone who currently is using tax havens. It should also be a compelling read for their attorneys, bankers, consultants or even their business partners, any of whom may unwittingly find themselves caught up in money-laundering investigations. The good news is, the book outlines solutions for people who may find themselves facing charges. They should carefully consider their options – before it is too late.

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