How Canada got into bed with tax havens 1980 treaty with tiny Barbados paved way for billions to […]

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I am sharing this because of its particular relevance to the ongoing revelations about connections between global tax evasion shell companies and real estate markets: London, Miami, New York City, San Francisco and Vancouver.

The release of the Panama Papers is of such potential significance and magnitude that it is difficult to know where to begin. I have decided that I will begin with the most interesting and relevant topic for me, the Canadian angle: possible links from Mossack Fonseca’s tax haven shell companies to the Vancouver BC real estate market, the current Canada Revenue Agency investigation of KPMG’s Canadian offshore tax haven scheme, and potential conflicts of interest within CRA. The KPMG and CRA issues have been extensively investigated and reported by CBC News, and also discussed on this site.

In a continuation of the story first reported by the CBC some months ago, and also reported here, the CBC has discovered a secret CRA amnesty offer to fifteen wealthy KPMG Canadian clients. There is no “quid pro quo” included in the amnesty offer, requiring that the individuals provide evidence or testimony in the current CRA case against KPMG in the Courts. It should be noted that the UK government is also pursuing prosecutions of at least four KPMG partners in the United Kingdom. KPMG settled out of court in a similar case in the United States. The Swiss government has also successfully prosecuted UBS for a similar tax haven scheme.

So Trump is Uber and conversely, Uber is Trump. This comparison has been made by both supporters and opponents, so as they say, there must be some truth in it. Both Uber and Trump have based their strategies on disrupting the status quo and the establishment with politically incorrect behavior. My argument here is simply that while the disruption fostered by both Trump and Uber may appear attractive at first glance, and desirable to many, in both cases, there are much deeper ethical issues that are only now coming to the forefront.

This is a metaphorical essay on personal ethics, worthy of a serious read and contemplation. When I saw the title I was intrigued but suspected it had something to do with Andy Grove’s adage, “sewage flows downhill,” which means “if anything bad happens it will eventually flow down to you.” This is about ethics. The points made here are particularly apt in light of the huge number and sheer scale of recent business frauds: the Volkswagen fraud, LIBOR, Lehman Brothers, Bernie Madoff’s pyramid scheme, Conrad Black in Canada, Olympus in Japan, Bernie Ebbers and Worldcom, Tyco International, stretching back all the way to Enron, Michael Milken’s junk bonds, and the 1980’s savings & loan debacle.

In the Autumn of 1999, I joined a Hong Kong friend for the amazing “K98” train trip from Hong Kong north through the heart of China to Beijing, just in time for the 50th Anniversary celebration of the People’s Republic of China. It was my version of Paul Theroux’s “Riding the Iron Rooster,” and the images of China at that time still stick in my head. Since then China has changed so dramatically that those images no longer exist. Since Deng Xiaoping declared that “getting rich is glorious,” and China’s growth has skyrocketed, China’s domestic and international problems have also multiplied.

Liar’s Poker is one of those books one of your friends strongly urges you to read. A short little book, the recommendation I got from Bill Howe, my Canadian Intel colleague in Europe, was that it was a hilarious read. And so it was. It reads like Animal House. Michael Lewis also recently wrote The Big Short, his analysis of the 2008 financial meltdown. Liar’s Poker has been described as a comedy, and The Big Short as a tragedy, which seems very apt to me if you have heard Michael discuss both books. Many may know Michael best for his recent success with Moneyball.

Four senior executives from the Belfast office of international accountancy firm KPMG have been arrested on tax evasion charges. KPMG acknowledged in a press release that four of its top executives in Northern Ireland were arrested Wednesday.

An insightful interview with Reid Hoffman, venture capitalist and founder of LinkedIn. But to my mind, Hoffman seems blase’ about Big Ideas and “deep tech” funding. I share the views of Startup Genome founder, Max Marmer, and bemoan the limited focus of VC’s on world-changing technologies, leaving it to billionaire angels. I also sense myopia about the ongoing intense debate over the distortion of the sharing economy by Uber, Airbnb, and others.