How many shell companies exist in Canada? How many legal trusts? Who are the beneficial owners protected by such unnecessary veils of secrecy? No one knows because in most cases there is no legal requirement to disclose actual ownership even to regulators. In fact, more information is required to get a library card than to set up a company in most jurisdictions in Canada. What we do know is that Canada ranks near the bottom among our OECD partners in terms of corporate disclosure requirements to fight money laundering and tax evasion. A recent report from Transparency International detailed the dismal situation and why our country has become a haven for dubious offshore property speculation.
Wall Street is currently basking in a vigorous “Trump rally,” with the Dow rising more than 1000 points since the election. The rally is driven by analysts who are salivating over the future prospect of sweeping deregulation of many markets. But there is also chorus of concern from dozens of financial experts, that the global financial markets are “whistling in the graveyard,” acting in a classicly irrational manner. Experts cite a host of issues both financial and geopolitical, among them Trump’s intention to exit TPP, NAFTA, and the COP21 Climate Agreement. Combined with rising geopolitical tensions with China, North Korea, and Iran, a perfect storm of global uncertainty and instability is forming.
Reading this article today, I am dumbfounded that Anbang managed to get this far in the purchase of B.C. commercial real-estate without red flags going up. This mysterious Chinese company, Anbang Insurance Group has attracted the attention of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune Magazine, and government authorities in the United States and other countries. A months-long investigation by the New York Times revealed an extremely opaque structure, empty offices, obscure shareholders, and extensive political connections to the Chinese elite. Anbang has all the earmarks of Chinese money laundering, corruption at the highest levels, and mysterious shell companies. It is a cautionary tale for Canadian authorities fretting over foreign real-estate buyers and skyrocketing real-estate prices.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership began modestly years ago with New Zealand and a few other southeast Asian countries and mushroomed into a Pacific regional plan as the cornerstone of Obama’s pivot towards Asia. It has attracted the ire of both left-wing progressives and now Donald Trump, who has announced his intention to cancel U.S. participation in TPP. The criticism has ranged from it being part of the New World Order conspiracy to loss of jobs, damage to the global environment, and a host of other issues. It is considered to be a crucial factor in the populist revolt against so-called “free” international trade, and the rise of protectionism. Regrettably, it will likely go ahead in some form, regardless, with China in the leadership role, not the United States. The probable consequences of this are grave
We are now seeing the first indications of the consequences of a Trump withdrawal from the international community. China has seen an opportunity to displace the United States and to advance China’s own aspirations to take a more aggressive and visible leadership role in the COP21 agreement. The simultaneous announcement of the de facto death of the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) has also opened a new opportunity for Chinese hegemony in the Asian economic and geopolitical world. Regardless of the Trumpist views on climate change and foreign trade, we are proverbially cutting off our noses to spite our faces.
In the last three days, both The Globe & Mail and CBC News have published disturbing stories about the scale of the Chinese infiltration of the Vancouver housing market that go well beyond anything understood or encompassed by BC government or federal government action on the problem. The CBC reported that at least $13.5 Million in cash has been confiscated from Chinese recently entering Canada at Vancouver International Airport. The following story, reblogged from The Globe & Mail, tells a tale of fraud, manipulation, and tax evasion on a massive scale. It also tells an embarrassing tale of gross incompetence by Canadian authorities. All of this is consistent with other investigative journalists reports from the United States on other similar fraudulent Chinese real-estate activities. Some of these reports go back years. The original Mossack Fonseca “Panama Papers” revelations that indicated that many of the Chinese elite with family links to Li Xinping, and The People’s Liberation Army had Mossack Fonseca accounts should have been a red flag for Canada, but was not. We are living in an entirely new global economy manipulated by dark forces. What will we do now that Vancouver has been ruined for decades to come?
This has just hit the wires tonight, September 11th. The South China Morning Post, perhaps the most influential and important bilingual, English and Chinese, media outlet in Hong Kong has suddenly and somewhat mysteriously announced that it is ceasing operations of its Chinese-language website nanzao.com. SCMP is owned by Jack Ma and Alibaba. It should also be noted that local elections in Hong Kong last week elected at least six new “pro-democracy” legislators.
A mysterious Chinese company, Anbang Insurance Group has attracted the attention of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune Magazine, and government authorities in the United States and other countries. The cause of the scrutiny has been Anbang’s sudden involvement in a number of massive multi-billion dollar real estate investments around the World. Formed in 2004, Anbang apparently holds assets worth at least $295 Billion, but a months-long investigation by the New York Times has revealed an extremely opaque structure, empty offices, obscure shareholders, and extensive political connections to the Chinese elite. Analysis of Anbang and its operations holds a potential lesson for Canadian authorities fretting over foreign buyers and skyrocketing real-estate prices.
Today’s long-expected announcement that the European Union has assessed that Apple owes €13 Billion ($14.5 Billion) in back taxes to Ireland and the EU, is only one part of a much larger story of multinational corporations global tax jurisdiction and tax avoidance, and a looming fight between the EU and US over which one gets the €13 Billion. There is not much disagreement whether Apple actually owes the money. It also reopens the as yet unresolved matter of multinational corporate taxation, most recently exposed by Pfizer’s announcement that it would move its HQ to Ireland to avoid U.S. taxation, which was later blocked by the U.S. government.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has quit an advisory panel to Panama’s government set up after the Panama Papers scandal. Some 11.5m documents, leaked from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, revealed huge offshore tax evasion.The government appointed a panel to look at Panama’s financial practices. But Mr Stiglitz and and Swiss anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth, who also quit, said government interference in their work amounted to “censorship”. The seven-person panel also included Panamanian experts. “I thought the government was more committed, but obviously they’re not,” Mr Stiglitz told Reuters news agency. “It’s amazing how they tried to undermine us.”