Friday, June 16, 2017
Please write in your comments against this cement and rock crushing plant across from the Gateway Park, Montessori School and down the street from Nolan Catholic.
1. Go to: http://www14.tceq.texas.gov/epic/eCommen...
2. list permit number: 146263
3. Add your comments and attach a Word or PDF (you may copy from my reasons below).
This stone and concrete crushing factory is seeking a second bite at the apple via a state TECQ permission for a heavy industry air pollution zoning for the same property across the street from the Montessori school. The comment period ends in 30 days in July.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of a cement crushing plant in 2013 that used its state-granted TECQ pollution permit to quash a city's attempt to stop it from locating next to a school. See Southern Crushed Concrete v City of Houston, 398 S.W.3d 676, (Supreme Court of Texas Feb. 15, 2013).
Last year Alice Barr reported about a proposed factory across the street of Gateway Park and Montessori school: "East Fort Worth Neighbors Upset Over Proposed Concrete Recycling Plant", May 16, 2016. http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/East-Fort-Worth-Neighbors-Upset-Over-Proposed-Concrete-Recycling-Plant-379719781.html In May 2016 over 800 neighborhood residents signed a petition against this “heavy industrial” proposed factory and approximately 400 residents attended the May 2016 public meeting to voice near unanimous objections. Fort Worth District 4 Councilperson Cary Moon, who attended the public meeting, surveyed more than 1,500 neighborhood residents of which near unanimity, 99 percent, disapproved of the development. Councilperson Cary Moon concluded:
“Through our discussion the developer came to understand the concrete recycling plant was not a good fit for our community and decided to discontinue their application for the zoning change,” Moon said. “The concrete recycling plant will not be built.” (See Planting Their Feet, Fort Worth Weekly, June 8, 2016. www.fwweekly.com/2016/06/08/planting-their-feet)
But the plant has gone around the city directly to the state and thus silencing the voices of the neighborhoods and schools that will be devastated.
- Heavy Industrial Use Detrimental to Neighborhood Residents Health, Especially Schools and Retirement Community
Rock crushing factories, documented in numerous medical articles, produce fine dust particles and silica content for which exposure, especially prolonged, poses serious health problems. The inhalable dust and respirable particulate matter causes respiratory problems. This unacceptable health risk is particularly acute for the most vulnerable: the children and elderly neighborhood residents. East Fort Worth Montessori Academy located within two blocks of the proposed factory as well as Noland Catholic High School and Lakewood Village Retirement Community located within a mile, may become economically unviable. School enrollment will likely plunge when parents are made aware of the industrial factory locating next to the schools. The health risks of this factory would probably require that the proposed charter school for Randol Mill on the East side of Quanah Parker Park (West side of Riverbend Estates) seek an alternative neighborhood, which would be a tremendous loss for the low-income children of East Fort Worth.
- The City Of Fort Worth's Future Land Use Map Allocates This Neighborhood Area For Private Open Spaces And Single Family Residential, Not Industrial
The City of Fort Worth and partnering governments will have wasted millions of dollars the past two years renovating Gateway Park, Quanah Parker Park, and the Trinity Trail. Millions of dollars have been spent to transform Gateway Park into a 1,000 acre premier park for the city of Fort Worth with several sports fields for children and 80,000 trees planned.If a rock and cement crushing industrial factory
If a rock and cement crushing industrial factory is built across the street, then Gateway and Quanah Parker parks will no longer be desirable from a health perspective, environmental perspective, and a safety perspective. for after-school sports and weekend family activities. By example, the industrial traffic of the 100 to 200 heavy truck trips in and out of factory daily laden with concrete waste will create unacceptable traffic hazards for families and their children using the parks and the nearby Montessori school, as well as for the elderly who reside at the Lakewood Village Retirement Community that drive along Randol Mill Road and Oakland Road and walk to the Gateway and Quanah Parker parks. That is an industrial truck every two to five minutes on Randol Mill Road. The proposed industrial factory’s location next to the newly expanded Trinity Trail bike path may also render it unsafe for cyclists, and at least undesirable for use.Neighborhood Property Values Will Collapse Along With The Tax Base
- Neighborhood Property Values Will Collapse Along With The Tax BaseI am a nationally respected tax expert, the author of several highly regarded and cited tax treatises, of government tax and economic impact studies, and employed as a professor of law
It is well documented in studies over decades that health and amenity risks associated with environmental hazards, whether real or perceived, translate into economic harm both to individuals and to the tax base.
Studies have shown that negative attitudes toward facilities which pose nuisance, health or environmental risks are strong and geographically extensive.” (Quoting as one example, Undesirable facilities and property values: a summary of empirical studies, Dr. Stephen Farber, Ecological Economics 24 (1998) at p 1 - 14.)
The change to an industrial use, and location of a hazardous rock and cement crushing factory, will lead to a substantial drop of property value and thus the tax base. Based on a zoning change to heavy industrial, and the nature of the factory proposed, it is reasonable to estimate a drop of approximately twenty percent of the property value within 24 months for at least 1,500 residences in the neighborhood. By rough calculation, the property tax revenue loss from just 1,500 residences being impacted by approximately 20 percent of the property value would exceed $1.5 million annually by the third year. More devastating though is the human cost of residents permanently losing 20 percent of their home value, the primary method of family saving.
Besides the TECQ, you can also reach out to the news organizations below to get the word out.
-Star reporter who covered story in May 2016: email@example.com
- NBC local newstips: firstname.lastname@example.org
- FW Weekly: email@example.com
- Fox news: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Soccer Bribery Scandal Unfolding. Swiss Banker Pleads Guilty to $25 million in bribes, Received More Than $1 Million in Bonuses for Arranging
Former Managing Director At Swiss Bank Pleads Guilty To Money Laundering Charge In Connection With Soccer Bribery Scheme
A private banker formerly employed by Swiss banks Credit Suisse Group AG and Julius Baer Group Ltd plead guilty in Brooklyn, New York, to a criminal information charging him with participating in a money laundering conspiracy in connection with the distribution and receipt of millions of dollars of bribes paid to high-ranking soccer officials.
The defendant, Jorge Luis Arzuaga, a 56 year old Argentinian national, entered his plea before the Honorable U.S. District Court Judge Pamela K. Chen. According to the criminal information, between 2010 and 2015, the defendant was employed as a private banker at two financial institutions based in Switzerland, and he managed several accounts controlled by a sports media and marketing business headquartered in Argentina (the “Sports Marketing Company”). In that capacity, Arzuaga assisted the principal of the Sports Marketing Company, along with others, in paying bribes to various high-ranking soccer officials, the information states.
According to the information, Arzuaga furthered the bribery conspiracy in a variety of ways, including by opening a bank account in the name of a shell company ostensibly established on behalf of the Sports Marketing Company, when, in fact, the true beneficial owner of this account was a high-ranking soccer official. In total, according to the information, Arzuaga assisted in paying more than $25 million in bribes into the account. Following the death of the beneficial owner of the account, Arzuaga arranged for the balance of the funds remaining in the account to be distributed to the soccer official’s heirs, the information states. In exchange for his assistance in facilitating the payment of these bribes, the information states that Arzuaga received approximately $1,046,000 in bonus payments.
Earlier today, Jorge Luis Arzuaga, a citizen of Argentina and a private banker formerly employed by Swiss banks, pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with participating in a money laundering conspiracy in connection with the distribution and receipt of millions of dollars of bribes paid to soccer officials, including the late president of the Asociación del Futbol Argentina (“AFA”), the Argentinian soccer federation. The plea was entered before United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.
The guilty plea was announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office; and Richard Weber, Chief of IRS Criminal Investigation. Swiss authorities are expected to announce the resolution of charges against Arzuaga in a related matter soon.
According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, beginning in around 2010 and continuing through 2015, while employed as a private banker at two financial institutions based in Switzerland, Arzuaga managed several accounts controlled by Alejandro Burzaco, a principal of Torneos y Competencias, S.A. (“TyC”), a sports media and marketing business headquartered in Argentina. In that capacity, Arzuaga assisted Burzaco and others in paying bribes to various soccer officials, including to the then-president of AFA, who is identified in the information as Soccer Official #1. Arzuaga furthered the bribery conspiracy in a variety of ways, including by opening a bank account in the name of a shell company established to effect certain transactions on behalf of TyC. The true beneficial owner of this account was Soccer Official #1. Arzuaga assisted Burzaco in paying more than $25 million in bribes into the account for the benefit of Soccer Official #1. Burzaco pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other offenses on November 16, 2015 in connection with his involvement in paying bribes to soccer officials.
Following Soccer Official #1’s death in 2014, Arzuaga arranged for the balance of the funds remaining in the account to be distributed to Soccer Official #1’s heirs. In exchange for his assistance in facilitating the payment of these bribes, Arzuaga received approximately $1,046,000 in bonus payments from Burzaco for moving bribe money through the financial system. Arzuaga will forfeit that amount in connection with his plea.
“By facilitating the flow of bribe money through the Swiss and American banking systems, the defendant provided a critical service to those involved in corruption in international soccer,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “Today’s plea marks another important step in our continuing effort to hold accountable those who facilitate the movement of criminal proceeds in the United States and across the globe.” Acting United States Attorney Rohde extended her grateful appreciation to the authorities of the government of Switzerland for their invaluable assistance in this investigation and for their ongoing collaboration.
This plea shows how wide-ranging and systemic corruption once was in one of the world’s most popular sports,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “Our work is nowhere near finished, and we will continue to pursue each and every corrupt member of this scheme until each is brought to justice.”
“The guilty plea announced today builds upon the ongoing investigation of corruption within FIFA, where we have continued to trace illicit funds through banks around the world,” said Chief Weber. “We are pursuing the bad actors - including soccer officials, sports marketing companies, financial institutions, and their bankers - who have intentionally and criminally violated the law by laundering illegal proceeds. Prospective private bankers and relationship managers should take note of Mr. Arzuaga’s conviction and think twice about the consequences of conspiring to launder money. These criminal actors will continue to be under the microscope of the financial investigative expertise of IRS CI.”
The guilty plea announced today is part of an investigation led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the Bank Integrity Unit in the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in Washington, D.C., the FBI New York Field Office, and the IRS-CI Los Angeles Field Office. The prosecutors in Brooklyn and the Bank Integrity Unit are receiving considerable assistance from attorneys in various parts of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in Washington, D.C., including the Office of International Affairs, the Organized Crime and Gang Section, and the Fraud Section, as well as from INTERPOL Washington.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samuel P. Nitze, Paul Tuchmann, Lauren Howard Elbert, and Brian D. Morris of the Eastern District of New York and Trial Attorney Michael P. Grady of the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division are in charge of today’s prosecution.
JORGE LUIS ARZUAGA
Improving the tax treaty dispute resolution process is a top priority of the BEPS Project. The Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) peer review and monitoring process under Action 14 of the BEPS Action Plan was launched in December 2016 with the peer reviews of the two first batches now well underway.
The peer review process is conducted in two stages. Under Stage 1, implementation of the Action 14 minimum standard is evaluated for Inclusive Framework members, according to the schedule of review. Stage 2 focuses on monitoring the follow-up of the recommendations resulting from jurisdictions' Stage 1 report.
The OECD is now gathering input for the Stage 1 peer reviews of the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Korea, Norway, Poland, Singapore and Spain, and invites taxpayers to submit input on specific issues relating to access to MAP, clarity and availability of MAP guidance and the timely implementation of MAP agreements for each of these jurisdictions using the taxpayer input questionnaire. As taxpayers are the main users of the MAP this input is key for the review process and we encourage taxpayers to complete the questionnaire and return it to email@example.com (in Word format) by 7 July 2017 at the latest.
For more information on the BEPS Action 14 peer review and monitoring process, see: www.oecd.org/tax/beps/beps-action-14-peer-review-and-monitoring.htm
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Personal note: The Bankruptcy section of the bill (banks should go bankrupt, not be bailed out). While I agree that the market should hold banks and their employees accountable for bad decisions and lack of foresight (such as through insolvency), an organized "work out" (not taxpayer funded bailout) should not be taken off the table as an aspect of the insolvency toolkit. Such workouts generally require a facilitator who sees the entire market, a role by example the FDIC has played fro decades for the betterment of the banking system and the public trust in it. Over 100 professors, including myself, signed onto a comment letter to this effect.
- The Dodd-Frank Off-Ramp for Strongly Capitalized, Well-Managed Banking Organizations Bankruptcy Not Bailouts
- Repeal of the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s SIFI Designation Authority
- Reform the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Relief from Regulatory Burden for Community Financial Institutions
- Federal Reserve Reform
- Upholding Article I: Reining in the Administrative State
- Amend Dodd-Frank Title IV
- Repeal the Volcker Rule
- Repeal the Durbin Amendment
- Eliminate the Office of Financial Research
- SEC Enforcement Issues
- Reforms to Title IX of Dodd-Frank
- Capital Formation
- Repeal Specialized Public Company Disclosures for Conflict Minerals, Extractive Industries, and Mine Safety
- Improving Insurance Regulation by Reforming Dodd-Frank Title V
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
"There are good reasons why the fraud discovery rule has not been extended to Government civil penalty enforcement actions. The discovery rule exists in part to preserve the claims of parties who have no reason to suspect fraud. The Government is a different kind of plaintiff. The SEC’s very purpose, for example, is to root out fraud, and it has many legal tools at hand to aid in that pursuit".
Head Note: The Investment Advisers Act makes it illegal for investment advisers to defraud their clients, 15 U. S. C. §§80b–6(1), (2), and authorizes the Securities and Exchange Commission to bring enforcement actions against investment advisers who violate the Act, or against individuals who aid and abet such violations, §80b–9(d). If the SEC seeks civil penalties as part of those actions, it must file suit “within five years from the date when the claim first accrued,” pursuant to a general statute of limitations that governs many penalty provisions throughout the U. S. Code, 28 U. S. C. §2462.
In 2008, the SEC sought civil penalties from petitioners Alpert and Gabelli. The complaint alleged that they aided and abetted investment adviser fraud from 1999 until 2002. Petitioners moved to dismiss, arguing in part that the civil penalty claim was untimely. Invoking the five-year statute of limitations in §2462, they pointed out that the complaint alleged illegal activity up until August 2002 but was not filed until April 2008. The District Court agreed and dismissed the civil penalty claim as time barred. The Second Circuit reversed, accepting the SEC’s argument that because the underlying violations sounded in fraud, the “discovery rule” applied, meaning that the statute of limitations did not begin to run until the SEC discovered or reasonably could have discovered the fraud. Held: The five-year clock in §2462 begins to tick when the fraud occurs,
Held: The five-year clock in §2462 begins to tick when the fraud occurs, not when it is discovered. Pp. 4–11.
Download here: Download Gabelli v SEC
Monday, June 12, 2017
"Jurors in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday settled in for a weeks-long trial to decide the fate of a Manhattan office tower built for the shah of Iran, which the U.S. government is trying to seize for the benefit of people who have won terrorism-related court judgments against Iran."
Sunday, June 11, 2017
The FATCA FFI Registration system has been updated to include the ability for FFIs to renew their agreement with the IRS. From the home page link of “Renew FFI Agreement,” the FI will determine whether it must renew its FFI agreement. A table of guidelines is provided to assist in this determination. Once the determination is made, the system enables an FI to review and edit their registration form. The FI will need to verify and update their registration information and submit to renew their FFI agreement.
Those who are required to renew their FFI agreement and do not by July 31, 2017, will be treated as having terminated their FFI agreement as of January 1, 2017, and may be removed from the FFI List.
All FIs should login to the system for this determination. For login assistance, review the FATCA FFI Registration system FAQ's.
The table below provides a general overview of the types of entities that are required to renew their FFI agreement.
Renewal of FFI Agreement
Financial Institution’s FATCA Classification in its Country/ Jurisdiction of Tax Residence
Type of Entity
FFI Agreement Renewal Required?
Participating Financial Institution not covered by an IGA; or a Reporting Financial Institution under a Model 2 IGA
Participating FFI not covered by an IGA
Reporting Model 2 FFI
Registered Deemed-Compliant Financial Institution (including a Reporting Financial Institution under a Model 1 IGA)
Reporting Model 1 FFI operating branches outside of Model 1 jurisdictions
Yes, on behalf of branches operating outside of Model 1 jurisdictions (other than related branches)
Reporting Model 1 FFI that is not operating branches outside of Model 1 jurisdictions;
Registered deemed-compliant FFI (regardless of location)
None of the above
Direct reporting NFFE
Trustee of Trustee-Documented Trust
The system update includes Renewal of FFI Agreement fields and information on account home pages and the lead's view of member pages. These fields include:
- FI Renewal of Agreement Due Date
- Renewal of Agreement Submitted Date
- Renewal Status
The system will notify all approved financial institutions of the renewal open period and due date to renew the FFI agreement. The due date for all renewals is July 31, 2017.
The system instructions and online help are updated for the Renewal of FFI Agreement. The FATCA Registration User Guide is also updated to include steps for FIs to renew their FFI agreement.
Along with system fixes, the update within the registration application includes the removal of the classification of limited for FIs and FI branches. This classification option will no longer be available for new FI applicants or for renewing FIs.
Two other changes in this release are the inclusion of a warning banner and the attempts to unsuccessfully login is now reduced to three.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Five More Defendants Plead Guilty for Their Roles in Multimillion Dollar India-Based Call Center Scam Targeting U.S. Victims
Five men, including two individuals who formerly worked at scam call centers in India, each pleaded guilty within the past two weeks for their respective roles in a massive telephone impersonation fraud and money laundering scheme perpetrated by India-based call centers.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez of the Southern District of Texas, Executive Associate Director Peter T. Edge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Inspector General J. Russell George of the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and Inspector General John Roth of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG) made the announcement.
From May 26 to June 6, Rajubhai Patel, 32, an Indian national most recently residing in Willowbrook, Illinois; Viraj Patel, 33, an Indian national most recently residing in Anaheim, California; Dilipkumar Ambal Patel, 53, an Indian national most recently residing in Corona, California; and Fahad Ali, 25, a Pakistani national and permanent U.S. resident most recently residing in Dyer, Indiana, each pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy before U.S. District Court Judge David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas. Hardik Patel, 31, an Indian national most recently residing in Arlington Heights, Illinois, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy before the same court on June 2. Sentencing dates are pending for all five defendants.
According to admissions made in connection with the plea agreements, the five men and their co-conspirators perpetrated a complex scheme in which individuals from call centers located in Ahmedabad, India, impersonated officials from the IRS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and engaged in other telephone call scams, in a ruse designed to defraud victims in the U.S. Using information obtained from data brokers and other sources, call center operators targeted U.S. victims, who were threatened with arrest, imprisonment, fines or deportation if they did not pay alleged monies owed to the government. Victims who agreed to pay the scammers were instructed how to provide payment, including by purchasing stored value cards or wiring money. Upon payment, the call centers would immediately turn to a network of “runners” based in the U.S. to liquidate and launder the fraudulently obtained funds.
Based on the statements in his June 2 guilty plea, beginning in August 2012, Hardik Patel owned and managed the day-to-day operations of an India-based scam call center before later leaving for the U.S. While in India, in his capacity as a manager, Hardik Patel communicated extensively via email, text, and other means with various India-based co-defendants to operate the scheme and exchange scripts used in the scheme, coordinate the processing of payments from scammed victims, obtain and exchange lead lists used by callers to target U.S. victims, and exchange spreadsheets containing the personal identifying information (PII) of U.S. persons misappropriated by the scammers to register reloadable cards used in the scheme. Hardik Patel also managed worker payroll and kept detailed records of profits and expenses for various associated scam call centers. Hardik Patel continued to communicate with India-based co-defendants about the scheme and assist with the conspiracy after he moved to the U.S.
According to his June 6 guilty plea, Rajubhai Patel operated as a runner and assisted a co-defendant in managing the activities of a crew of other runners, based primarily out of Illinois, who liquidated victim funds in various locales in the U.S. for conspirators from India-based call centers. Rajubhai Patel communicated about the liquidation of scam funds via electronic WhatsApp communications with domestic and India-based co-defendants, purchased reloadable cards registered using the misappropriated PII of U.S. citizens that were later used to receive victims’ funds, and used those cards to purchase money orders and deposit them into various bank accounts of co-defendants and others as directed. Rajubhai Patel also admitted to creating and maintaining spreadsheets that detailed deposits, payments to co-conspirators, expenses and profits from the scheme.
According to admissions made in his June 2 guilty plea, Viraj Patel first became involved in the conspiracy between April and September 2013, prior to entering the U.S., when he worked at and assisted with overseeing the operations of a call center in India engaging in scam activity at the behest of a co-defendant. After entering the U.S., beginning in December 2014 Viraj Patel engaged in additional activities in support of the scheme in exchange for a cut of the profits, including serving as a processor of scam victim payments and as a runner engaging in the purchase and liquidation of cards loaded with victim scam funds. Viraj Patel communicated with various India-and U.S.-based co-defendants in furtherance of the conspiracy, and also obtained and circulated lead lists to his co-conspirators containing the PII of U.S. citizens for use by the call centers in targeting victims of the various fraud schemes and to register reloadable cards used to launder the proceeds of the schemes.
Based on the admissions made in his May 26 guilty plea, since late 2013, Dilipkumar A. Patel operated as a runner in and around Southern California, along with other co-defendants based in the region. At the direction of India-based co-conspirators, often via electronic WhatsApp communications, Patel admitted to participating in the purchase of reloadable cards registered with the PII of U.S. citizens, and the subsequent liquidation of victim scam funds loaded to those cards by co-conspirators, while keeping a percentage of the victim funds on the cards for himself.
According to his guilty plea, also on May 26, beginning in or around 2013, Fahad Ali worked as a member of a crew of runners operating in the Chicago, Illinois area, the Southern District of Texas and elsewhere throughout the country. Ali admitted that he first served as a driver for an Illinois-based co-defendant engaging in activities in furtherance of the conspiracy. Ali later operated at the direction of that co-defendant and others, via various means of communication, including text messages, to purchase reloadable cards, and then liquidate victim scam proceeds placed on those cards by India-based co-conspirators, in exchange for recurring payments. Ali also admitted to using false identification documents to receive wire transfers from victims of the fraud.
To date, Hardik Patel, Rajubhai Patel, Viraj Patel, Dilipkumar A. Patel, Fahad Ali, 51 other individuals and five India-based call centers have been charged for their roles in the fraud and money laundering scheme in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Texas on Oct. 19, 2016. Including the most recent pleas, a total of nine defendants have pleaded guilty thus far in this case. Co-defendants Bharatkumar Patel, Ashvinbhai Chaudhari, Harsh Patel and Nilam Parikh previously pleaded guilty on April 13; April 26; May 11; and May 18, respectively.
The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
HSI, DHS-OIG and TIGTA led the investigation of this case. Also providing significant support were: the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs; Ft. Bend County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office; police departments in Hoffman Estates and Naperville, Illinois, and in Leonia, New Jersey; San Diego County District Attorney’s Office Family Protection and Elder Abuse Unit; U.S. Secret Service; U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Inspector General; IOC-2; INTERPOL Washington; USCIS; U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service; and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in Northern District of Alabama, District of Arizona, Central District of California, Northern District of California, District of Colorado, Northern District of Florida, Middle District of Florida, Northern District of Illinois, Northern District of Indiana, District of Nevada and District of New Jersey. The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau also provided assistance in TIGTA’s investigation.
Senior Trial Attorney Michael Sheckels and Trial Attorney Mona Sahaf of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, Trial Attorney Robert Stapleton of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys S. Mark McIntyre and Craig M. Feazel of the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.
A Department of Justice website has been established to provide information about the case to already identified and potential victims and the public. Anyone who believes they may be a victim of fraud or identity theft in relation to this investigation or other telefraud scam phone calls may contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) via this website.
Friday, June 9, 2017
With BREXIT Eliminating UK Voice, EU Ramps Up For More Regulation & Integration of Capital Markets. Or Is This A Shot At London?
The proposal in detail
The CMU Mid-term review sets out nine new priority actions:
- strengthen the powers of European Securities and Markets Authority to promote the effectiveness of consistent supervision across the EU and beyond;
- deliver a more proportionate regulatory environment for SME listing on public markets;
- review the prudential treatment of investment firms;
- assess the case for an EU licensing and passporting framework for FinTech activities;
- present measures to support secondary markets for non-performing loans (NPLs) and explore legislative initiatives to strengthen the ability of secured creditors to recover value from secured loans to corporates and entrepreneurs;
- ensure follow-up to the recommendations of the High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance;
- facilitate the cross-border distribution and supervision of UCITS and alternative investment funds (AIFs);
- provide guidance on existing EU rules for the treatment of cross-border EU investments and an adequate framework for the amicable resolution of investment disputes;
- propose a comprehensive EU strategy to explore measures to support local and regional capital market development.
In addition, the Commission will advance on outstanding actions under the 2015 Action Plan. In particular, the Commission will put forward:
- A legislative proposal on a pan-European personal pension product to help people finance their retirement;
- A legislative proposal for an EU-framework on covered bonds to help banks finance their lending activity;
- A legislative proposal on securities law to increase legal certainty on securities ownership in the cross-border context.
The CMU seeks to strengthen the flow of private capital to growing businesses, infrastructure investment, energy transition and other projects to underpin sustainable growth. Removing obstacles to the free flow of capital across borders will strengthen Economic and Monetary Union by supporting economic convergence and helping to cushion economic shocks in the euro area and beyond, making the European economy more resilient. Stronger capital markets, better connected to productive investment, will create better investment opportunities for pension funds and institutional and retail investors saving for the long-term and retirement.
In January 2017, the Commission launched a consultation on the CMU mid-term review, creating an opportunity for stakeholders to provide targeted input to complement and advance actions put forward in the CMU Action Plan. On 30 September 2015, the Commission adopted an Action Plan on Building a Capital Markets Union (CMU). The Action Plan sets out a programme of actions which aim to establish the building blocks of an integrated capital market in the European Union by 2019.
The Action Plan is built around the following key principles:
- Connecting financing to the real economy by developing non-bank funding sources
- Creating more opportunities for investors
- Fostering a stronger and more resilient financial system
- Deepening financial integration and increasing competition.
After almost two years since the launch of the CMU Action Plan, the Commission is presenting today a number of important new initiatives to ensure that this reform programme remains fit for purpose.
The CMU is a key pillar of the Commission's Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called Juncker Plan. Through a mix of regulatory and non-regulatory reforms, this project seeks to better connect savings to investments. It aims to strengthen Europe's financial system by providing alternative sources of financing and more opportunities for consumers and institutional investors. For companies, especially SMEs and start-ups, the CMU means accessing more funding opportunities, such as venture capital and crowdfunding. The rebooted CMU puts a strong focus on sustainable and green financing: as the financial sector begins to help sustainability-conscious investors to choose suitable projects and companies, the Commission is determined to lead global work on supporting these developments.
European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: "The CMU remains at the heart of our efforts to boost European investment and create jobs and growth. As we face the departure of the largest EU financial centre, we are committed to stepping up our efforts to further strengthen and integrate the EU capital markets. This review makes clear the scale of the challenge and we count on the support of the European Parliament and Member States to rise to it.”
European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth and Investment, said: "The Commission has worked hard to give decisive impetus to the CMU. In just twenty months, we have delivered two-thirds of our initial commitments and other important actions are in the pipeline. We are now expanding our scope to meet new challenges such as funding sustainable investment and harnessing the potential of FinTech. The new measures presented here today renew and reinforce the Commission's commitment and set us on an irreversible path towards the CMU.”
The Mid-Term Review reports on the good progress made so far in implementing the 2015 Action Plan, with around two-thirds of the 33 actions delivered in twenty months. Just recently, co-legislators agreed in principle on two major proposals. The securitisation package will free up capacity on banks' balance sheets and generate additional funding for households and fast growing companies. The venture capital funds reform will facilitate investment in small and medium-sized innovative companies. Moreover, last year we agreed on the new Prospectus regime that will allow easier access to public markets especially for SMEs. However, for the CMU to succeed, the full and constant support of the European Parliament, Member States and all market participants is paramount.
The Mid-Term Review also sets the timeline for the new actions that will be unveiled in the coming months. These will include a pan-European personal pension product to help people finance their retirement. Furthermore, the Commission will continue its work on enhancing the supervisory framework for integrated capital markets, increasing the proportionality of the rules for listed SMEs and investment firms, harnessing the potential of FinTech and promoting sustainable investment.
Alongside the CMU Mid-Term Review, the Commission is also unveiling measures to encourage long-term investment through a review of prudential calibration for investments in infrastructure corporates. We propose reducing the amount of capital that insurance companies need to hold when they invest in infrastructure corporates. These targeted changes to the Solvency II Delegated Regulation will further support investment in infrastructure.
Communication on Capital Markets Union- Accelerating Reform
Action Plan on Building a Capital Markets Union
San Antonio June 13 for lunch: You are invited to join Texas A&M University School of Law this coming Tuesday for the next event in our Texas A&M School of Law Business Lecture Series, a series of lunchtime gatherings where Aggie Law faculty bring their practical expertise to the San Antonio business community. Our featured speaker on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 will be Professor Brian Holland, an expert in internet and technology law, who will speak on “The Business of Data and Privacy,” addressing trends in innovation of the use of data and toward the erosion of privacy—matters about which every business and legal professional should be aware.
This exciting, informative, and free program will also highlight the fall 2017 opening of the law school’s San Antonio Center, a facility that will house an innovative graduate degree program designed from the ground up for working business professionals. The June 13 event will be held at noon at San Antonio’s Cadillac Bar Restaurant (212 S. Flores Street), and event registration is open online at http://law.tamu.edu/SA-programs. Space is limited, and lunch will be provided for those who register by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, June 12.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
Ground-breaking multilateral BEPS convention signed at OECD will close loopholes in thousands of tax treaties worldwide
Today’s signing ceremony marks a an important milestone in the international tax agenda, which is moving closer to the goal of preventing base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) by multinational enterprises. The new convention, which is the first multilateral treaty of its kind, allows jurisdictions to transpose results from the OECD/G20 BEPS Project into their existing networks of bilateral tax treaties. It was developed through inclusive negotiations involving more than 100 countries and jurisdictions, under a mandate delivered by G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors at their February 2015 meeting.
“The signing of this multilateral convention marks a turning point in tax treaty history,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “We are moving towards rapid implementation of the far-reaching reforms agreed under the BEPS Project in more than 1,100 tax treaties worldwide, and radically transforming the way that tax treaties are modified. Beyond saving signatories from the burden of re-negotiating these treaties bilaterally, the new convention will result in more certainty and predictability for businesses and a better functioning international tax system for the benefit of our citizens. Today’s signing also shows that when the international community comes together there is no issue or challenge we cannot effectively tackle.”
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
"The case would go on to discover illegal payments of more than $5bn to company executives and political parties, put
billionaires in jail, drag a president into court and cause irreparable damage to the finances and reputations of some of the world’s biggest companies. It would also expose a culture of systemic graft in Brazilian politics, and provoke a backlash from the establishment fierce enough to bring down one government and leave another on the brink of collapse."
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
FTC Obtains Court Judgments Against California-based Robocallers Who Placed Billions of Illegal Calls
Aaron Michael Jones permanently banned from all telemarketing
A federal district court judge in California has approved default judgments against Aaron Michael Jones and nine companies whom the Federal Trade Commission charged earlier this year with running an operation that blasted consumers with billions of illegal telemarketing robocalls. The FTC estimates that in making the illegal robocalls, Jones and the companies he controlled called numbers listed on the Do Not Call (DNC) Registry at a rate of more than 100 million per year.
The court orders announced today permanently ban Jones and the companies from all telemarketing activities, including initiating robocalls, calling numbers on the DNC Registry, and selling data lists containing consumers’ phone numbers and other information. The order against Jones also imposes a $2.7 million penalty against him, payable to the Commission.
The FTC’s January 2017 complaint charged nine individuals, including Jones and his associate Steven Stansbury, and 10 corporate entities with operating related enterprises that initiated robocalls to consumers without first getting their written permission. According to the complaint, between at least March 2009 and May 2016, the defendants made or helped to make billions of these illegal robocalls, many of which pitched extended auto warranties, search engine optimization services, and home security systems, or generated leads for companies selling such goods and services. Many of those calls were made to numbers included on the DNC Registry.
The nine corporate defendants against whom the court has entered default judgment are: 1) Allorey, Inc.; 2) Audacity LLC; 3) Data World Technologies, Inc.; 4) Dial Soft Technologies, Inc.; 5) Digital Marketing Solutions, Inc.; 6) Savilo Support Services, Inc.; 7) Secure Alliance, Inc.; 8) Velocity Information Corp.; and 9) World Access Media.
The FTC also recently obtained an order settling the charges against Stansbury. The order permanently bans him from robocalling, from calling phone numbers on the DNC Registry, and from selling lists of data containing phone numbers on the Registry. Further, the order bans him from abusive telemarketing practices, such as using outbound telemarketing to contact a consumer who has previously asked not to be called again. The order also prohibits him from violating the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule and imposes a judgment of $2.7 million, which will be suspended based on his inability to pay, after he pays the Commission $3,000. The full amount will become due if he is later found to have misrepresented his financial condition.
In addition, seven of the nine individual defendants and corporate defendant Local Lighthouse Corp. agreed to court orders settling the Commission’s charges concurrent with the January complaint filing. Entry of the court’s default judgments against defendant Jones and the other corporate defendants, along with the stipulated final order against defendant Stansbury, resolves the FTC’s actions regarding all of the defendants in this case.
The Commission vote authorizing staff to file the proposed stipulated federal court order settling the charges against Steven Stansbury was 2-0. FTC staff filed the proposed order in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, and it has been entered by the court.
Monday, June 5, 2017
The Internal Revenue Service announced that the Spring 2017 Statistics of Income Bulletin is now available on IRS.gov. The Statistics of Income (SOI) Division produces the online Bulletin quarterly, providing the most recent data available from various tax and information returns filed by U.S. taxpayers. This issue includes articles on the following topics:
• Individual Income Tax Returns, Preliminary Data, Tax Year 2015: For tax year 2015, taxpayers filed almost 151 million U.S. individual income tax returns, slightly more than were filed for the prior tax year. In tax year 2015, adjusted gross income rose 5 percent compared to the prior year, representing increases in salaries and wages, partnership income and distributions from retirement plans, among other income items.
• Individual Income Tax Shares, Tax Year 2014 provides details from income tax returns filed for tax year 2014. The average adjusted gross income (AGI) reported on these returns was $69,565, up 6.5 percent from the previous year. Total AGI increased 7.5 percent to $9.71 trillion.
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Art. 5 [The Amnesty will be granted under the following conditions]:
I - presentation of a Statement of Exchange and Tax Regularization (Dercat), in electronic format;
II - full payment of income tax at the rate of 15% (fifteen percent) levied on the total amount in real of the resources subject to regularization; and
III - full payment of the fine of regularization in a percentage of 135% (one hundred and thirty five percent) of the tax on the income calculated in the form set forth in item II.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
The Governors of the Global Economy Meeting welcome the publication of the FX Global Code, a single global code for the wholesale foreign exchange market, as well as the establishment of the Global Foreign Exchange Committee to maintain the Code in the future.
This represents the culmination of a two-year collaborative initiative between central banks and private sector market participants from across the globe. The Code is voluntary and covers important areas including ethics, governance, execution, information-sharing, risk management and compliance as well as confirmation and settlement. Download Global Code FOREX 2016
"The FX Global Code sets good practices for market participants to follow and will support a robust, fair and transparent market, underpinned by high ethical standards," said GEM Chair Agustín Carstens, Governor of the Bank of Mexico.
Central banks are strongly committed to supporting and promoting adherence to the Code. They confirm that they intend to adhere to the principles of the Code, and will expect the same of their regular FX counterparties, except where this would inhibit the discharge of their policy functions. Additionally, members of central bank sponsored foreign exchange committees will be expected to adhere to the Code.
Governors encourage market participants to evolve their practices to be consistent with the principles of the Code and to demonstrate their commitment by using the Statement of Commitment that was also published today. They also encourage the private sector, including associations and infrastructure providers, to raise awareness of the Code and to develop and establish mechanisms to support its adoption.
The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced today that the goods and services deficit was $47.6 billion in April, up $2.3 billion from $45.3 billion in March, revised. April exports were $191.0 billion, $0.5 billion less than March exports. April imports were $238.6 billion, $1.9 billion more than March imports. The April increase in the goods and services deficit reflected an increase in the goods deficit of $2.3 billion to $68.4 billion and a decrease in the services surplus of less than $0.1 billion to $20.8 billion. Year-to-date, the goods and services deficit increased $22.1 billion, or 13.4 percent, from the same period in 2016. Exports increased $44.3 billion or 6.1 percent. Imports increased $66.4 billion or 7.5 percent. Goods and Services Three-Month Moving Averages (Exhibit 2) The average goods and services deficit decreased $0.4 billion to $45.9 billion for the three months ending in April. * Average exports of goods and services decreased $0.2 billion to $191.4 billion in April. * Average imports of goods and services decreased $0.6 billion to $237.3 billion in April. Year-over-year, the average goods and services deficit increased $5.6 billion from the three months ending in April 2016. * Average exports of goods and services increased $10.5 billion from April 2016. * Average imports of goods and services increased $16.0 billion from April 2016. Exports (Exhibits 3, 6, and 7) Exports of goods decreased $0.5 billion to $126.9 billion in April. Exports of goods on a Census basis decreased $0.4 billion. * Consumer goods decreased $0.7 billion. o Artwork, antiques, stamps, and other collectibles decreased $0.4 billion. o Pharmaceutical preparations decreased $0.2 billion. * Automotive vehicles, parts, and engines decreased $0.5 billion. o Passenger cars decreased $0.3 billion. * Foods, feeds, and beverages increased $0.6 billion. Net balance of payments adjustments decreased $0.2 billion. Exports of services increased $0.1 billion to $64.0 billion in April. * Travel (for all purposes including education) increased $0.1 billion. * Transport, which includes freight and port services and passenger fares, decreased $0.1 billion. Imports (Exhibits 4, 6, and 8) Imports of goods increased $1.8 billion to $195.3 billion in April. Imports of goods on a Census basis increased $1.8 billion. * Consumer goods increased $1.9 billion. o Cell phones and other household goods increased $1.8 billion. o Artwork, antiques, stamps, and other collectibles increased $0.5 billion. * Capital goods increased $0.9 billion. * Industrial supplies and materials decreased $1.5 billion. o Crude oil decreased $1.9 billion. Net balance of payments adjustments decreased $0.1 billion. Imports of services increased $0.1 billion to $43.3 billion in April. * Travel (for all purposes including education) increased $0.1 billion. * Transport decreased $0.1 billion. Real Goods in 2009 Dollars – Census Basis (Exhibit 11) The real goods deficit increased $2.9 billion to $63.5 billion in April. * Real exports of goods decreased $0.5 billion to $123.9 billion. * Real imports of goods increased $2.4 billion to $187.4 billion. Revisions Exports and imports of goods and services for all months through March 2017 shown in this release reflect the incorporation of annual revisions to the goods and services series. See the “Notice” in this release for a description of the revisions. Revisions to March exports * Exports of goods were revised upward $1.2 billion. * Exports of services were revised downward $0.7 billion. Revisions to March imports * Imports of goods were revised upward $1.8 billion. * Imports of services were revised upward $0.3 billion. Goods by Selected Countries and Areas: Monthly – Census Basis (Exhibit 19) The April figures show surpluses, in billions of dollars, with South and Central America ($2.7), Hong Kong ($2.0), Singapore ($0.9), Brazil ($0.3), and United Kingdom ($0.2). Deficits were recorded, in billions of dollars, with China ($32.1), European Union ($13.2), Mexico ($6.4), Germany ($5.5), Japan ($5.0), Italy ($3.0), Canada ($2.6), India ($1.6), South Korea ($1.5), Taiwan ($1.3), France ($1.2), OPEC ($1.1), and Saudi Arabia ($0.2). * The deficit with Italy increased $1.0 billion to $3.0 billion in April. Exports decreased $0.2 billion to $1.4 billion and imports increased $0.8 billion to $4.4 billion. * The deficit with France increased $1.0 billion to $1.2 billion in April. Exports decreased $0.7 billion to $2.6 billion and imports increased $0.2 billion to $3.7 billion. Goods and Services by Selected Countries and Areas: Quarterly – Balance of Payments Basis (Exhibit 20) The first quarter figures show surpluses, in billions of dollars, with South and Central America ($19.5), Hong Kong ($10.0), Brazil ($6.5), Singapore ($5.1), and United Kingdom ($3.2). Deficits were recorded, in billions of dollars, with China ($81.9), European Union ($24.2), Mexico ($17.7), Germany ($17.2), Japan ($14.3), Italy ($7.3), India ($6.1), South Korea ($3.8), France ($2.8), Taiwan ($2.2), Canada ($1.2), Saudi Arabia ($0.5), and OPEC ($0.2). * The deficit with China increased $4.2 billion to $81.9 billion in the first quarter. Exports increased $0.6 billion to $45.4 billion and imports increased $4.8 billion to $127.3 billion. * The balance with Saudi Arabia shifted from a surplus of $2.0 billion to a deficit of $0.5 billion in the first quarter. Exports decreased $0.2 billion to $6.6 billion and imports increased $2.3 billion to $7.1 billion.
Friday, June 2, 2017
The 2017 Texas A&M University Law School Associate Dean Conference from Thursday, June 1, through Saturday, June 3, 2017 addressed topics relevant to associate deans at law schools, including
- scholarship assessment,
- teaching assessment,
- law school buildings,
- and rankings.
In addition, because many associate deans eventually become law deans, the conference will address topics that dean candidates would need to be familiar with to participate in a dean search. Speakers included Robert Morse, Chief Data Strategist, U.S. News and World Report, who will engage in a conversation on rankings with Andrew Morriss, Dean of Texas A&M University Law School.
Friday's two-hour panel on Scholarship Assessment was led off by an insightful, cutting edge presentation by the reknown Law Prof Blogs Founder Dean Paul Caron (Pepperdine
University School of Law) focusing on assessing faculty scholarship, including scholarship metrics and "alt metrics". Dean Caron was followed by Gary Lucas, Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Assessment, Strategic Analysis, and Reporting, Texas A&M University School of Law, who addressed such alt rankings such as SSRN and Google Scholar and evidenced how these can be gathered by US News & World Report and then used to compare the top research institutions and faculty members within them. Gregory Sisk, Laghi Distinguished Chair in Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law addressed what "scholarly" means in the context of legal education and methods to assess who is actually a "scholar" and who just ursurps the term "scholar". Finally, Dr. John August, the Dean of Faculties and Associate Provost of Texas A&M University addressed how the law school scholarly impact fits into the the bigger picture of the university measurement system of scholarly impact used to compare the 63 scholarly research institutions of the AAU.
Reuters reported that Global regulators will soon finalize a suite of rules to ensure banks across the world hold enough capital to withstand rocky markets without taxpayer aid, one of their top officials said on Thursday. The remaining elements of Basel III seek to ensure banks are consistent in the way they assess risks from loans and determine the size of their capital reserves.
The Basel Committee had hoped for a deal in January, but its members could not agree on how to set a capital backstop known as an aggregate output floor, which ensures a minimum level of capital. Read the Reuters article here.