Cum-cum and cum-ex transactions (Cum/Ex) enabled „the biggest tax theft in the history of Europe“, concluded Dr. Christoph Spengel, Professor of Business Taxation at the University of Mannheim, who had prepared a report for the 4th Enquiry Committee of the German Bundestag on Cum/Ex. A German insider, who worked as a lawyer for a long time on specialized Cum/Ex transactions, spilled the beans in front of the running camera. He reports exclusively from the „engine room“ of this „devil’s machine,“ as he calls it. After 14 months of interrogation by the Cologne public prosecutor, he was able to convince himself that he was part of a system of „organized crime in pinstripes“ between 2006 and 2011. What has actually happened and what is behind the scandal?
Imagine a world where integrity, morality and virtue rule the roost: would that be a better world? Companies, in particular, seem to be very occupied with this idea to steer their employees through the medium of morality. Would there really be no more crime in this world of saints though and would it be a better world?
It must be bedevilled. In Brazil’s presidential election, there is no genuine alternative to political corruption, except to vote for dictatorship. He who wants to know something about the culture of political corruption in Brazil just has to watch the election campaign. Geraldo Alckmin, the candidate of the rather right-wing Social Democratic Party (PSDB), who leads an eight-party coalition, is under investigation by the prosecutors for illegal party financing. He is suspected to have got roughly 2.5 million USD in illegal funding for the campaign to get him re-elected as the governor of São Paulo in 2014. The money was donated by Odebrecht, a construction company deeply implicated in various corruption scandals. Fernando Haddad, the stooge of ex-President Lula da Silva and the candidate of Labour Party (PT), is also accused by the prosecutors of illegally receiving from the construction company UTC nearly 650.000 USD for his campaign to run for the mayor of São Paulo in 2012. The prosecutors believe that these undeclared campaign donations were associated with unlawful favours enjoyed by the construction companies.
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that is almost always fatal following the onset of clinical symptoms, which usually occur one to three months after the infection, though this incubation period could be as short as one week and as long as one year, depending on where the virus entered the body and the load of virus that entered the body. Initial symptoms of rabies include a fever with pain and unusual or unexplained tingling, pricking, or burning sensation (paraesthesia) at the wound site. As the virus spreads to the central nervous system, progressive and fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord develops. Of all human rabies cases, 70% are patients of furious rabies, who exhibit signs of hyperactivity, excitable behaviour, hydrophobia (fear of water) and sometimes aerophobia (fear of drafts or of fresh air). Death occurs after a few days due to cardio-respiratory arrest. The rest 30% are patients of paralytic rabies, whose muscles gradually become paralyzed, starting at the site of the bite or scratch. A coma slowly develops, and eventually death occurs.
The betting odds were bad for the German Soccer team and excellent for South Korea. He who had placed a wager on a South Korean win, would have realized more than 16 times his stake with a betting odd of 16.75 at 10Bet Sports.
Betting is a lucrative business. More than US$ 70 billion is spent annually, between 75% and 80% of which on football. This is more than the gross national product of small countries such as Costa Rica or Uruguay. Given that a lot of money is at stake, football bets are difficult to control and exertion of influence is difficult to prove, betting on football is a hotbed for criminal activity par excellence – also in Europe.
The ‚Paradise Papers‘ are making headlines since November 2017. Half a year later, the first conclusions have been drawn: What does this data leak reveal that we did not already know?
1. The ‚Apple‘ case
At first glance, the publications paint a vivid picture of celebrities, the super-rich, politicians, and multinationals who are all using complex financial architectures to reduce their tax burden. Apple is one case in point. The name of the US technology icon appears in connection with expiring tax reliefs in Ireland. The Paradise Papers reveal how Apple searched for a new tax haven from 2013 onwards, and that it found the Channel Island Jersey. The company subsequently transferred the majority of its offshore cash holdings from about $ 250 billion there. Apple said in a statement that the company did not pay fewer taxes due to the relocation, but remained the largest taxpayer in the world and even paid corporate taxes in the amount of about $ 35 billion within a few years .
When the FIFA World Cup match between Brazil and Costa Rica takes place on 22 June 2018 or when the third place play-off takes places on 14 July 2018 – all of them in Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg – we shall also think of the approximately 110 North Korean forced labourers who built the stadium in slave-like conditions. However, not only in Russia or China, but also in the Czech Republic or in Polish shipyards, are North Korean forced labourers being deployed. According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, North Korea, with more than 100,000 forced labourers working outside North Korea, is the single country with the highest percentage of forced labourers in the world.
Imagine, that a favourite candidate for the Chancellor of Germany is campaigning with his party for the most powerful office in the country, but has already been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for corruption. Hardly imaginable? How about this: an incumbent chancellor has been charged with corruption. There is audio tapes showing that he has stashed millions of euros away. The Parliament, however, fails to rescind his immunity as the chancellor. Barely imaginable too? Both are now reality in Brazil, pertaining to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Michel Temer, respectively, who are political rivals. Whether red or black, liberal or social democratic, the country’s political elite have steadfastly refused to take responsibility for the sheer scale of political corruption. And the same judicial system, whose surprising effectiveness has thrown the corrupt Brazilian politics into the spotlight of court rulings, is also partly responsible for keeping the corrupt political system running. This is true despite the fact, that the Supreme Court`s sensational ruling yesterday rejected Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s plea to avoid prison.
Lúcio Bellentani is 72 years old. From 1964 to 1972 he worked at Volkswagen plant in São Paulo. Like his father, he was a member of the Communist Party and also very active in the labour union. By his account, he was 28 years old when he felt two machine gun barrels in his back while working. That was 1972. He was immediately handcuffed and taken directly to a room of the security department of the company, where he was later picked up by the political police. Bellentini was then taken from the VW plant to DOPS (Departamento de Ordem Política e Social) where he, by his own account, had been to regular torture in the first four months. According to Bellentani, he was then transferred to the OBAN (Operação Bandeirantes) torture center and later imprisoned, where he spent another two years of his life.
Socialist systems traditionally have the improvement of man on the plan. And those who are unable or do not want to improve are eliminated or at the present time, imprisoned. China is now using digitization to expand social control – in the best tradition of socialist systems. Currently, a scoring system has been introduced or is being tested in approximately 43 cities and districts to assess social behaviour. If you live alone in a large apartment, there is a deduction of points. It is better if you live together with many in a small apartment. Anyone driving alone to work with a large imported car, such as a Mercedes S-Class, gets fewer points than someone who uses a rented bike. And these are, however, the harmless examples. Those who accumulate too much debt or fail to repay can no longer ride high-speed trains or take flights in China. According to the Supreme People’s Court of China, 8.42 million attempts by debtors to take flights alone have been rebutted by the end of September 2017. But even this is just the tip of the iceberg. The Chinese government is now building a comprehensive social credit scoring system to reward and punish the social behaviour of its citizens. Anyone who does poorly in a rating can be restricted in all areas of life. “Lose credit somewhere, face restrictions everywhere”. George Orwell is trendy in China.