STEP International News Digest wrap-up – February’s top stories

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Welcome to the wrap-up of the top ten most popular stories in the STEP Wealth Structuring News Digest throughout February 2015. In case you missed them, here are the worldwide industry news stories most viewed by our readers.

Geneva police raid HSBC: Authorities in Geneva have launched an inquiry into allegations of aggravated money laundering at HSBC Private Bank Suisse. The investigation began yesterday with a search of two of the bank’s Geneva offices, aimed at securing information on client accounts suspected of holding proceeds of crime.

HSBC Geneva accountholders were allowed to make ‘Liechtenstein disclosures’: The majority of UK-domiciled clients of HSBC Private Bank Geneva exposed by the so-called ‘Falciani leak’ were allowed to use the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility to pay their back taxes and penalties, the chief executive of HM Revenue and Customs has revealed.

Tax authority defends actions over HSBC Swiss accountholders: The UK tax authority, HM Revenue and Customs, has issued a statement describing its enforcement measures against British holders of undeclared Swiss accounts at HSBC Private Bank. HMRC received a list of stolen HSBC client data in 2010 but stresses that the list was tainted by its illegal origin and therefore could not be used for prosecutions without corroborating evidence.

Labour government would force IFCs to set up public registers: The leader of the UK’s opposition party, Ed Miliband (of the Labour Party), has told Britain’s Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories that they will be required to set up public registers of company beneficial ownership if Labour wins the general election in May. Otherwise, he said, he will push for them to be put on an international blacklist.

Clients of HSBC Geneva are publicly named: Various media outlets have now obtained the names of HSBC accountholders, some of which will be named in a TV programme to be shown tonight by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). HSBC has released its fullest statement yet on the matter of leaked data of HSBC clients. Hervé Falciani, a former HSBC employee, stole a large amount of account data from the bank’s private client operation in Geneva in 2007.

Taxation of investment in commercial real estate: Withersworldwide has published a briefing on the taxation of non-UK investors in UK commercial property. Unlike the much-increased taxation of residential property, the commercial regime is relatively generous with low taxes on acquisitions and none on disposal, provided an opco/propco structure is used.

The year of the trust: Trusts are being set up at a phenomenal rate under Chinese trust law – 11 years after China’s trust legislation came into effect. Hao Wang TEP explains why.

Obama proposes easier route to renouncing citizenship: President Obama’s budget proposals, published earlier this month, include a plan to help some dual-nationality American expatriates to renounce their US citizenship without the fear of delinquent tax filings, penalties, the US exit tax, and the other consequences of being a covered expatriate. It is still not known whether it will become law.

Obama proposes tax on unrepatriated corporate profits: President Obama’s budget proposal today will include a one-time 14 per cent levy on the unrepatriated overseas profits of US corporations, plus a 19 per cent minimum tax on future foreign profits. Some USD2 trillion of corporate profits is thought to have been accumulated in foreign jurisdictions to avoid US tax.

Clients of HSBC Geneva are publicly named: Various media outlets have now obtained the names of HSBC accountholders, some of which will be named in a TV programme to be shown tonight by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). HSBC has released its fullest statement yet on the matter of leaked data of HSBC clients. Hervé Falciani, a former HSBC employee, stole a large amount of account data from the bank’s private client operation in Geneva in 2007.

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.

To subscribe to STEP’s digest services you will need to first register here: http://www.step.org/register

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