STEP Wealth Structuring News Digest wrap-up – November’s top stories


Need to catch up on a month’s worth of news in just a few minutes? Welcome to the wrap-up of the top ten most popular stories in the STEP Wealth Structuring News Digest throughout November. In case you missed them, here are the worldwide industry news stories most viewed by our readers.

G20 summit agrees beneficial ownership policy: G20 countries have adopted a policy document containing ten principles intended to improve the transparency of beneficial ownership of companies and trusts. Among them is a requirement that trustees of express trusts and similar entities maintain adequate information on settlors and beneficiaries and make it available to the authorities, but it stops short of demanding a central registry of beneficiaries.

Twenty per cent surcharge tax for owners of second homes in high-demand areas: The property tax imposed on owners of second homes in France (taxe d’habitation) would rise by 20 per cent in high-demand areas in January 2015, under proposals in the French government’s latest supplementary budget.

New FATF guidance stops short of trust registries: The international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has published new guidance on transparency and beneficial ownership measures to deter the misuse of companies and trusts. Significantly, it does not follow European Union calls for compulsory registries of trusts, nor for public access to such registries if they exist.

Senior UBS executive Raoul Weil acquitted in US trial: A US court has acquitted the former head of UBS’s global wealth management unit of helping American clients evade taxes on USD20 billion of undeclared assets. Raoul Weil was extradited to the US while on holiday in Italy a year ago. His defence attorneys did not call any defence witnesses at his trial in Florida.

Duma passes de-offshoring bill: Russia’s parliament has voted to enact a government bill to force Russian citizens and companies to pay tax on retained earnings and assets of foreign companies under their control.

Switch to OECD reporting may cost non-doms their privacy: Britain’s adoption of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) automatic information exchange agreement could deprive non-doms of their right to keep offshore bank accounts secret from HM Revenue and Customs, according to law firm Pinsent Masons. The reporting agreements now in place between London and the Crown Dependencies and British overseas territories only require banks to report non-dom clients’ remitted income, but the OECD reporting standard does not contain any such exemption.

Renouncing citizenship may not shake off tax burden: Renouncing US citizenship is not only a difficult process, but it may not even provide a reliable exit from the US’ worldwide tax net, says Canadian law firm Moodys Gartner. US tax law restricts loss of citizenship for tax purposes further than immigration law does, so unwary individuals could potentially lose their citizenship under immigration law and still be treated as a US citizen for tax purposes.

Credit Suisse fined over tax evasion charges: Credit Suisse is to pay the US authorities USD2.6 billion in ‘fines and restitution’ for allegedly helping American clients evade tax for a period spanning several decades.

RBC exits Caribbean wealth business: Royal Bank of Canada is closing its Caribbean wealth management business and considering a reduction of its Swiss operations, to focus more on clients in Canada, the US, the UK and Asia.

Row over EU public register of foundations and trusts remains deadlocked: The EU negotiations surrounding the new 4th AML Directive appear to remain deadlocked over the EU Parliament’s demand for publicly accessible registers showing all beneficial owners of both foundations and trusts. Many practitioners in civil-law countries seem unaware that the EU’s proposals for public accessible registers include not just trusts but also foundations and all similar structures. STEP remains opposed to a public register. The negotiations are scheduled to conclude shortly, with the Directive due to be finalised by the end of the year.

The STEP Industry News Digests provide a round-up of relevant industry news for trust and estate practitioners and other professionals in the wealth management sector. They provide brief summaries of topical news stories gathered from news providers internationally, providing a quick reference for busy practitioners to all the relevant news and issues. The News Digests also feature job listings from our recruitment site and list local STEP branch events and conferences. STEP’s digest services include twice weekly UK and Wealth Structuring (international) editions as well as a bi-weekly North America Digest focusing on the US, Canada and Mexico, and a Latin America Digest.

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