OECD - quo vadis?

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OECD unter Beschuss (z.B. Votum Staehelin, Interpellation Briner 09.3350, Postulat Freysinger 09.3296)
Coalition for Tax Competition Urges White House to Defund the Paris-based OECD
Observations & insights on the global fight for economic freedom & prosperity
Why follow the FATF Piper of Hamelin?

NZZ online, 19.3.09, Voting: Bankgeheimnis
Soll die Schweiz gegenüber der OECD härter auftreten?
Antwort:      87% Ja     13% Nein

10 Sep 09  Apparently Bowing To the Global Tax Bullies, Washington Times, Richard W. Rahn
14 Aug 09   Interfipol resurfaces: OECD's Global Tax Forum seeks ehanced role, WSJ, BOB DAVIS
26 juin 09   OCDE et discrédit durable, agefi.com, editorial
25 mai 09   Werner Rutsch: Arrêtez de céder aux pressions internationales!, Le Temps, Emmanuel Garessus
25.Mai 09   Bankdatendieb & Staats-Hehler: Opfer staatlichen Uebereifers, Vaterland, Wolfgang Frey
23 mai 09   Marc Faber: «La Suisse s’incline beaucoup trop vis-à-vis de l’étranger», Le Temps, Daniel Eskenazi
13.Mai 09   Riskante Auslandreisen für Banquiers & andere Treuhänder, ASDI/SIPA
9 mai 09    No prisoners! Keine Feuerpause gegen OECD's schleichende Steuerharmonisierung!, ASDI/SIPA
18 Mar 09   In Defense of Real and Made-Believe Tax Havens, WSJ, RICHARD W. RAHN
3 Mar 09   Switzerland Should Stiff-Arm the IRS, CFP, Dan Mitchell
17. Sep 06   FATF/GAFI: ein notwendiges oder abzulösendes Übel?, Iconoclast
14. Sep 06   "Soft Laws" - Bundesrat H.R.Merz an der Bankiertagung
13 July 06   US Lawmakers Against Global Taxes & Tax Harmonization Schemes
1. Feb 06   Die OECD – Think Tank im Machtgefüge der Industriestaaten, Franz Blankart
3. Dez 05   «Bürger hat Recht auf Privatsphäre», Finanz & Wirtschaft, Interview A.Gurria, Thomas Wyss
13 Nov 05   Bad advisers, Washington Times, Richard W. Rahn
11 Nov 05   McCreevy dismisses calls to harmonise tax, Financial Times,  Tobias Buck
7 Nov 05   FATF: OECD mission-creep & Piper of Hamelin bureaucratic lawmaking
31 Oct 05   CF&P Says U.S. Should Stop Subsidizing OECD
28 Oct 05  The lost trail - Efforts to combat the financing of terrorism are costly and ineffective, Economist
11 Feb 05   International bureaucracies as global protectors or oppressors?, Washington Times, Richard Rahn
2 März 03  OECD und „Soft Law“, Franz Blankart
1 May 01   OECD: Its Background and How It Was Hijacked
30 Jun 99   lex americana:  end of the tunnel or a self-inflicted and thus reversible fatality?
7 July 86   Waking Up to the OECD
9 May 86   European Taxmen Plot an Orwellian Scheme
22.Feb 85    A Swiss Mistake, Wall Street Journal, editorial

introduction en français..
I cannot ignore the fact our lowest rate of income tax, 29%,
is above your [proposed] top rate of 27%.
I am worried that some of our scientists,
our biggest wealth creators, may say:
"We can do better for our families out there."
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher,
interviewed in the July 28 issue of Forbes magazine,
as quoted in the Wall Street Journal, August 15, 1986

Editor's note  (26 June 1999 - rev.1)  and comments
("Wealth Privacy in the Year Orwell + 16": part I, part II, March/April 2000)

        The U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has set out to introduce what some have seen and fought as Orwellian "Know Your Customer" rules (KYC).  According to a close observer, the "banking regulators were so impressed with the volume and quality of the e-mail that they withdrew the proposed regulation on March 23 at a meeting of officials from the FDIC, the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System, the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision" (1).  End of the story?  Not, if experience is any guide.  But for a proper assessment of what's really going on and what, therefore, is likely going to happen under conditions of the free flow of things, you need to look back and decide for yourself.  Notably: whether conditions have fundamentally changed.  What you might thus expect.  And what, in the event, needs to be done.

        The case with which the forces and mechanics at work can fairly well be illustrated is a convention developed under the auspices of the Free World's economic Holy Grail institution, i.e. the venerable Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and Europe's human rights vanguard, the Council of Europe.  It is the below-discussed"Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters" (2) which, in the eighties, was developed by the secretive OECD "Working Party 8 on Tax Avoidance and Evasion"For reasons also explained below, an international coalition of citizens, chambers of commerce and editors battled it for some two years, and even succeeded to derail its signature - only to completely loose out a few years later, essentially for lack of follow-up and attention.

        Indeed, after some 20 editorials by the Wall Street Journal alone, countless interventions by the International Chamber of Commerce, their national members and other interested associations, not a single government showed up when, on January 25, 1988, this OECD/Council of Europe Convention was officially opened for signature.  Yet, on June 28, 1989, the U.S. Representative put his signature on the dotted line of this symptomatic example of international bureaucratic lawmaking.  Behind the back of concerned lawmakers and privacy advocates - and thus not because but despite of the democratically elected powers - some myopic, yet determined bureaucrats finally managed to collect sufficient signatures and ratifications to sneak this convention into force - tellingly on fool's day of 1995.  According to the official tally (3), this Orwellian tentacle has by now become binding "only" for Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the United States.  The trouble, though, is that this has made "respectable" what some consider to be fiscal aberrations, all cooked up secretively and undemocratically by mutually back-scratching, unsupervised and self-serving One Worlders.  As a consequence, the related debates and practices in all OECD countries have already been infested and corrupted with intolerable, for patently anti-liberty, anti-privacy and anti-market norms, with worse to come, not least in the economic arena of the future, the Internet field of e-commerce.

        Indeed, the authors of this anti-citizen INTERFIPOL convention thus not only managed to snatch victory from defeat.  They also turned this experience into a learning tool for developing and fine-tuning their anti-privacy skills on other fronts.  For a few years they layed low, "improved" the confidentiality of the work at OECD and concentrated their forces on less attackable, yet similarly anti-privacy and anti-entrepreneur measures, which are ostensibly needed to fight genuinely criminal activities. As a result, we are now faced with a growing arsenal of innocent-sounding, yet devastatingly effective anti-democratic, anti-sovereign and anti-enterprise "aoft laws", like "recommendations" and "guidelines"(2)(4)(5)against "harmful tax competition", "tax avoidance", "tax havens", bank client privacy, bank secrecy, etc.  Moreover, international fiscal and other data exchanges are turned into powerful instruments and weapons for use not exclusively against criminals but routinely against ordinary citizens and enterprises engaged in perfectly legal activities.  Not surprisingly, the "enforcement arms" ostensibly created to fight an ever growing palette of modern versions of Prohibition - notably the Financial Action Task Force (5) - differ only in name from what one would expect from supranational police forces.  In practice at least, these modern bounty hunters find themselves encouraged to treat a priori any bank account holder anywhere and even sovereign nations as fair game for being snooped on, harrassed and deprived of the fruits of their labors - until, eventually, proven "innocent" of "tax avoidance", "harmful tax competition" and other aberrant OECD and FATF One World "crimes".  After over ten years of writing and sneaking their own mandates into little-noticed summit and other official texts, they find themselves empowered by the OECD, the G7 ministerial meeting of industrial states, the IMF and other intergovernmental bodies to act as international policemen on all money matters, criminal or not.  Mostly by default of the legitimate power holders and worth-their-salt bankers, they thus managed to devise and use ways and means to operate outside the control of constitutional supervisors.

    Unless cut out or cut back at the source - notably on the OECD funding level and/or through appropriate changes in the terms of reference of some OECD bodies - this development is likely to continue and even to intensify, regardless of a manifest incompatibility with OECD's statutory aims and obligations.  I.e. as long as the purpurted gains - if there are indeed any worth talking about - will not by far and undeniably be outweighed by the damages thus incurred by OECD members' citizens, commerce and economy, e.g. through reduced foreign investments in the U.S. economy and indeed to the market system as a whole.  With, on top of it, American tax collectors being obliged to serve also as the extended arms of the taxmen from high-tax rate countries like, say, Sweden, Belgium or Netherlands.

(1)Fred E.Foldvary, "Protests Squash 'Know Your Customer'", The Progress Report, at:  http://www.progress.org/fold83.htm, quoting a New York Times article of March 24, 1999: "Flood of E-Mail Credited with Halting U.S. Bank Plan";  see also: "International Bankers Advisory Board KYC letter to the Federal Reserve System" of March 8, 1999, at:  http://www.csbsdal.org/legreg/intlkyc.html; American Bankers Association comments of January 28, 1999, to the U.S. Banking Regulators on the proposed "Know Your Customer" Rules, at: http://www.aba.com/aba/static/KYC_Commentltr.html; "Banking Institutions Lower the Boom on All Accounts - 'Know Your Customer' Part of Agenda for Global Control", at: http://thewinds.org/archive/government/fdic12-98.html; "Good Guys Win One - 135,000 Objections to KYC and Counting", at: http://www.networkusa.org/fingerprint/page1b/fp-kyc-goodguys.html; and: "'Big Brother' U.S. plans to spy on all your bank activities", at: http://www.gototravel.cx/U.S._PLANS_TO_SPY_ON_ALL_YOUR_BANK_ACTIVITIES.htm

(2)    full text at:  http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/en/Treaties/Html/127.htm
   texte français: http://www.coe.fr/fr/txtjur/127fr.htm

(3)    convention status (English & français) at:  http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/en/Treaties/Html/127.htm

(4)"Harmful Tax Competition: An Emerging Global Issue", OECD May 1998, ISBN 92-64-16294-1, at:  http://electrade.gfi.fr/cgi-bin/OECDBookShop.storefront/

(5)THE FORTY RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE FINANCIAL ACTION TASK FORCE ON MONEY LAUNDERING", OECD, at:  http://www.oecd.org/fatf/, and the "Interpretative Notes", at:  http://www.oecd.org/fatf/Inter_notes.htm


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22 February 1985

A Swiss Mistake

    Switzerland's officials are insisting no harm was done by their decision to break bank secrecy and hand over documents to American prosecutors trying to nail those suspected of violating American law by trading on inside information in the Santa Fe International case. The spokesman for the Swiss Justice Department is boasting that legal assistance "does function" between the two coimtries. The new Justice Minister herself, Elizabeth Kopp, now says that clearing up so-called misunderstandings with the Amencans is one of her priorities. And the country's supreme executive authority, the Federal Council, claims the action won't harm the national interest.
    Well, the market is going to make its own decision on that, and it wouldn't be surprising to see it go against the Swiss economy in the coming years. For when you clear away all the legal gobbledygook what the Swiss have done for short-term gain here is to jettison protections that clients of Swiss banks have long cherished. The short-term gain is that some pressure might be taken off some Swiss banks wanting to expand in the U.S. market. But the longterm risk - a serious one - is that the Swiss are opening their highly successful and exceptionally private economy to regulation according to the American culture.
    America' s regulators don't see it that way, of course. They have been pursumg the Santa Fe International case for more than three years, ever since they noticed a surge in the trading of Santa Fe International stock and options during the weeks before an announcement was made of a merger agreement between Santa Fe and Kuwait Petroleum Corp. Trading in Santa Fe shares was haited on Oct. 2. 1981, when the stock was selling at $24.625 a share. The merger was announced Oct. 5. When trading resumed, the stock crossed at $42 a share. On Oct. 25, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed an enforcement action against "certain unknown purchasers" (and one known foreigner) who, the SEC contends, had made illegal gains.
    But the SEC ran into Swiss bank secrecy when it tried to find out who the alleged insiders were, for the suspect transactions had been made through Swiss banks operating for clients. So it launched its long struggle to gain the names of the clients for whom the banks were acting, along with related documents. One problem it ran into was that insider trading, per se, isn't a crime in Switzerland. The Americans argue their mandate is to protect the American market, even when insider trading is initiated in it from offshore. The Swiss sent the names of the alleged insiders in May 1984, and have now delivered documents that presumably could enable the SEC to pursue the case further.
    Swiss bankers found themselves caught in the middle of all this (several Swiss banks were named nominal defendants in the Santa Fe case, because they made the trades from their ominibus trading accounts). So the banks weren't exactily unhappy when the Swiss govemment started cooperating with the Americans. The director of the Swiss Bankers Association, Jean-Paul Chapuis, says: "We have to protect the rights of individuals, but do away with what is unnecessary." Indeed, the Swiss Bankers Association appears to be supporting a proposal to outlaw insider trading in Switzeriand, which would broaden access by American prosecutors in these kinds of cases.
    This, however, has quite a few Swiss worried and promises to be a hot issue in the future. The Swiss Investors Protection Association, most assiduously, has been arguing that the government in Bern will jeopardize a business climate that has served the country well - even spectacularly - for generations. It's easy to understand its worries. Let the American regulators get a foot in the door on insider trading and they'll jump in with both feet on antitrust cases. Soon there'll be a stampede on tax cases, and before you know it, there won't be all that much difference between Switzerland and America. The theorists will call that a "level playing field." But the market may start to wonder why it needs to do business in Switzerland at all.

Des deux côtés de l'Atlantique on retrouve les mêmes problèmes liès à la confidentialité

Victimes du fisc de tous les pays, unissez-vous!

Aux Etats-Unis et en Europe, les défenseurs de la "privacy"
vont probablement s'allier contre l'inquisition de la puissance publique

Richard Anderegg, AGEFI, 4 janvier 2000 (*)

"Le FinCEN collationne les listes de suspects
des douanes, du fisc et d'autres agences fédérales
sous prétexte de combattre le blanchiment:"

    Depuis le chahut de Seattle, le doute n'est plus permis: Ceux qui s'opposent au nom de droits individuels et de valeurs locales à une "globalisation" qui se veut égalisatrice reprennent du poil de la bête.

    Il y a quelque temps déjà que cette résistance s'accentue.  Aux Etats-Unis, on a vu, au printemps passé, la défaite surprenante à la Chambre des représentants d'une loi nommée Know your customer, connais ton client.  Cette loi obligeait les banques à surveiller qu'il n'y ait pas de transactions même simplement douteuses dans les comptes qu'elle gère.  Loi dure: Dès qu'une seule transaction paraissait mal compréhensible, elle devait remettre aux autorités le dossier entier du client.  En plus, le Ministère des Finances entretient déjà un réseau, FinCEN , (Financial Crime Enforcement Network) qui note les noms de propriétaires de comptes qui paraissent interessants, sans qu'il y ait, pour l'instant, trace de crime.  Pire encore: FinCEN collationne les listes de suspects des douanes, du fisc et d'autres agences fédérales, le tout devant servir à combattre le lessivage de l'argent et le crime organisé.

Le gouvernement veut faire avaler à petites doses ce qu'il n'a pu faire avaler d'un coup

    C'est un individualiste, Ron Paul, médecin et représetant texan, qui a monté un tollé, ralliant une majorité qui découvrait que les agissements du ministère violaient la constitution et la sphère privée des citoyens américains.  Le gouvernement, pour sa part, découvrait un mécontentement profond contre  ses ingérences.

La réaction des autorités a été double:  D'une part, le ministre des Finances, M. Summers, a fait des déclarations qui défendent le droit du citoyen à une sphère privée.  Le Comptroller of the Currency (Vérificateur des Comptes), John Hawke, dans une allocution à une fédération de consommateurs, en décembre, disait "Le droit à une sphère privée (privacy) est devenu un facteur clé de la concurrence".  On choisit l'entreprise, le commerce qui garantit la discrétion, et les clients des banques surtout "ne s'attendent pas à ce que leurs banques soient
les yeux et les oreilles de la surveillance gouvernementale."

    Mais d'autre part, les collaborateurs des Représentants qui ont défait Know your customer savent que les appels du pied aux leaders du votre négatif que lancent la Trésorerie, le fisc et les agences qui appliquent la loi dans le monde de la drogue et du lessivage, se font de plus en plus urgents.  Les émissaires du gouvernement veulent faire changer d'avis ces parlementaires.  Les assistants législatifs de la Chambre croient que le gouvernement essaiera, dès l'année prochaine, de revenir à la charge avec des lois partielles pour réintroduire par portions ce qui a été repoussé dans son ensemble. Au sujet des belles déclarations gouvernementales, ils sourient: "C'est politique de dire ça avant des élections."  Ils n'y croient pas.  Ils voient plus loin.

Une croisade contre les empiétements des gouvernements est nécessaire

    Il y va de la privacy des dossiers médicaux, du e-mail, de tout ce que le gouvernement voudrait tant surveiller.  On va se bagarrer.  De l'autre côté de l'eau, l'est l'effort de l'OCDE (Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques) pour éliminer la "Concurrence fiscale dommageable" qui crée une méfiance semblable chez ceux qui croient que les Etats devraient pouvoir utiliser une politique fiscale intelligente pour attirer les investisseurs.  Comme la Trésorerie américaine, l'OCDE a mis en marche des polices dont la base légale prête au doute.

    La Suisse en particulier se sent visée par une organisation qui veut éliminer les "paradis fiscaux", le secret bancaire et les privilèges locaux.  On n'est pas content au Luxembourg et en Grande-Bretagne non plus.  L'OCDE n'est d'ailleurs pas "européenne".  Les Etats-Unis en font partie, leurs impôts passent à la casserole comme ceux des Européens.  Ils y sont même les plus forts, quoiqu'en Amérique, les citoyens ne s'en rendent à peine compte.  Mais lorsqu'on parle à des législateurs ou des politiciens américains qui savent ce qui se passe (d'accord, ils ne sont pas légion), on trouve une grande compréhension.  Les victimes américaines du fisc, de cet IRS bien connu, et des sbires de la Trésorerie ont les mêmes problèmes que celles du "Groupe de travail sur la fraude et l'évasion fiscale" de l'OCDE.

    Alors la question se pose: Pourrait-on échanger des informations, des conseils, déclencher ensemble des campagnes de pression politique?  Il y a des gens (de nouveau, ils ne sont pas légion), qui le croient.

(*)    du même correspondant de l'AGEFI à Washington, voir aussi: "La loi doit mieux soutenir la propriété privée, anonyme et non divulgée", AGEFI,  6 décembre 1999

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Seuls les poissons morts ne nagent plus contre le courant

Interview avec Anton Keller  (*)  mené par Richard Anderegg à Washington le 29 décembre 1999
(publié dans l'AGEFI du 4 janvier 2000, sauf les phrases en parenthèses rectangulaires,
sous le titre: "Luttons contre les forces hostiles au secret bancaire!")

Qu’est-ce c’est que cette "concurrence fiscale dommageable" dont on parle à Paris et à Bruxelles?

C’est le cache-sexe le plus en vogue parmi ceux qui en veulent aux "paradis fiscaux" – sous-entendant les places financières comme la Suisse.  La plus grande menace s’exerce actuellement par le biais de l’OCDE (Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques).  Cette dernière mène une véritable guerre économique larvée pour niveler vers le haut les charges fiscales en cherchant à supprimer ce qu’elle nomme – sans les définir -- les "distortions fiscales néfastes".  Le Conseil de l’Europe et l’Union européenne participent à cette razzia au mépris des libertés fondamentales.  Ils s’appuient sur les travaux d’un comité clandestin de l’OCDE qui se nomme "Groupe de travail sur la fraude et l’évasion fiscales".  De ce fait, la place financière suisse se trouve menacée par de sérieuses pressions extérieures, qui sont en plus accentuées par des défaillances intérieures.

Comment expliquer cela de la part d’organisations chargées de promouvoir les libertés individuelles?

Pour les autorités fiscales du monde entier, presque tous les moyens sont bons dans leur chasse aux nouveaux revenus.  Coiffant le chapeau de confrérie internationale, ces fonctionnaires nationaux agissent hors contrôle et forment une masse critique redoutable.  Ils se servent des organisations internationales gouvernementales pour influencer les législations nationales.  Ils arrivent ainsi à faire criminaliser des activités économiques ordinaires, voire indispensables, et n’hésitent pas d’abuser de la lutte justifiée contre le crime organisé afin de réduire à néant le secret bancaire.  Ils ont déjà réussi à faire mettre en place une police financière internationale, la Financial Action Task Force (FATF)de l’OCDE.

La Suisse, en tant que membre de plein droit de l’OCDE, aurait une position privilégiée pour influencer et freiner des développements qui nuisent à l’esprit d’entreprise, à la souveraineté fiscale et au système du marché tout entier.  Ses représentants, soumis à des pressions de tous bords, ont souvent été excessivement prudents.  Dans quelques cas clés, cette prudence résultait même d’instructions peu réfléchies, qui avaient été inspirées par des intérêts particuliers.  [Par exemple, dans le cas de l’Avenant franco-suisse du 11 avril 1983, les organisations faîtières suisses de l’industrie et de la finance avaient réussi à faire passer les intérêts de quelques grandes banques avant ceux de l’économie dans son entier.  Même le Conseil fédéral avait déjà apposé sa signature sur la ligne pointillée de l’Avenant.  Néanmoins – et chose rarissime -, le Conseil national, in extremis, a refusé même l’entré en matière sur cette "trahison économique".  Ainsi il a suivi l’argumentation d’une opposition extraordinaire des contribuables et cantons lésés.  Cette opposition était appuyée par le Groupement des banquiers privés genevois qui, à cette époque, était encore dirigé par une vraie sentinelle du sanctuaire du patrimoine.  Voilà pour les défaillances intérieures que j’ai mentionnées.]

Vu les pots cassés de ces derniers temps, quelles sont les conséquences que la Suisse a tirées?

Selon mes observations, on est loin d’avoir appris la leçon.  Les défaillances continuent.  On se limite aux voies traditionnelles, on refuse de coordonner les efforts et on n’admet pas la nécessité de se doter des moyens adéquats.  Prenez la menace actuelle: elle a ses origines dans la soi-disante INTERFIPOL, la Convention concernant l’assistance administrative mutuelle en matière fiscale"Complot orwellien" selon le Wall Street Journal du 7 juillet 1986, elle était l’objet d’une campagne d’opposition exemplaire: lors de son ouverture à la signature, le 25 janvier 1988, aucun gouvernement n’était présent.  Mais ce succès était gaspillé par inattention et inaction, permettant aux promoteurs de cette convention d’aller cueillir les signatures une à une jusqu’à son entrée en vigueur en 1995.  Ceux qui étaient chargés de la défense de la place financière suisse en portent une lourde responsabilité.  Ils ont raté plusieurs occasions de s’y opposer, soit par un véto formel, soit par des démarches adéquates.  Ils se sont contentés d’élégantes déclarations de principe et ont refusé de signer.  Manifestement, la Suisse ne peut plus se protéger des conséquences de tels "complots orwelliens" par les seules politesses d’usage.

Or, l’histoire se répète maintenant avec les mêmeserreurs d’action et d’omission face à l’actuelle campagne de l’OCDE contre la concurrence fiscale dommageable.  Résultat: on risque de transformer davantage encore nos banquiers en auxiliaires de la police.  Cela au moment même où les lois bancaires américaines sont en évolution vers une meilleure protection des clients.  Au moment où la compétition internationale pour les services bancaires est menée de plus en plus durement.  Et au moment où les Etats-Unis pourraient bien redevenir le plus grand paradis fiscal du monde -- et cela indépendamment du résultat des élections présidentielles de novembre prochain.

Alors, quelles options voyez-vous?

La guerre économique nous a été déclarée en 1974 dans un rapport du Sénat américain, menaçant les paradis fiscaux et les pays pratiquant le secret bancaire comme la Suisse, textuellement, d’"economic warfare", de guerre économique.  Il est temps d’en prendre acte et d’agir en conséquence, en nous alliant à des camarades de combat fiables.  Parmi eux, quelques législateurs et autres américains pourront même jouer un rôle clé.  Les consultations que je viens de mener à Washington m’encouragent dans ce sens.  Dans ce pays dynamique, rien n’est jamais définitif.  Une lame de fond en faveur du sanctuaire du patrimoine ("wealth privacy") menace toute la culture du "big government".  Le 23 mars 1999, la Chambre des représentants a fait échouer le dernier essai d’imposer un contrôle orwellien sur la totalité des transactions d’un compte au moindre soupçon.  Cette décision législative est indicative, mais non concluante.  En fait, le gouvernement n’a pas abandonné ses efforts qu’il prétend indispensables pour combattre le crime organisé.

Dans cette situation, l’expérience et les services de la Suisse en matière de secret bancaire pourraient être utiles pour appuyer nos amis américains dans leurs efforts législatifs de réaliser une protection efficace des clients bancaires.

Comment une telle alliance pourrait-elle nous aider dans la "guerre économique" dont vous parliez?

Mes interlocuteurs me font croire qu’il y a matière à changer la donne à l’OCDE, c’est à dire au centre même de nos préoccupations.  Une campagne des deux côtés de l’Atlantique, inspirée des principes qui sont à la base même de l’OCDE, semble en effet réalisable.  A condition, bien entendu, qu’elle soit menée par des gens qui font partie de la solution et non du problème.  Mon souci d’efficacité exige que je ne vous en dise pas plus.

(*)    Secrétaire de l’Association suisse de défense des investisseurs, Genève (e-mail: swissbit@solami.com).  Anton Keller est un conseiller parlementaire spécialisé en matière de droit bancaire, de sphère privée ("sentinelle du sanctuaire du patrimoine") et de questions énergétiques.  Il édite un site internet (www.solami.com/privacyhome).  Il a pris contact à Washington avec des membres du Congrès, du gouvernement et de groupes de pression.

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July 7, 1986
Waking Up to the OECD

        One of the things to which the Reagan administration needs to wake up is the fact that its new tax reform is going to turn the U.S. into a tax haven.  A top marginal rate of 30% or below will look like a veritable engraved invitation to those who work hard for their money to move it into the U.S., where it won't be taxed at the confiscatory rates prevalent in places like Europe and the more dismal parts of the Third World.  This is extremely good for an America that wants and needs all the savings and investment it can get.  But a plot is afoot to deny America these benefits - a plot which the Reagan administration has the power to stymie, if it starts to act.  The plot is unfolding in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  This normally benign organization has for several years now been drafting - in secret - a convention that would open the door to foreign tax collectors meddling in each others' countries.

        ... So the U.S. collaborated in the OECD's efforts, hoping to make things easier for its tax collectors.  Now the shoe is being shifted to the other foot, and the cash is going to be flowing - has already been flowing - to America.  It would be one thing if the convention under discussion were aimed solely at stopping the kind of criminal tax evasion we all abhor.  But the thing for the U.S. to understand is something Europeans have understood for years: Not only are tax rates high in Europe, but tax authorities are often politically motivated and corrupt.  So tax havens can emerge as more than the market place's answer to onerous imposts.   They can be seen, in many cases, as  redoubts where an individual can escape real fiscal injustice.  If the OECD convention is allowed to go forward, the U.S. will have all sorts of tax collectors going on fiscal fishing expeditions in the U.S. itself.

May  9, 1986

European Taxmen Plot an Orwellian Scheme
 A proposed tax convention provides no limits to prevent a witch hunt
against people engaging in perfectly legitimate international commerce.
        BASEL - Although the Pennsylvania Turnpike will get you across the state quicker, some people opt for alternative routes to avoid paying the toll.  Similarly, New Yorkers will travel to New Jersey to buy their clothes, because New Jersey has no sales tax.  Imagine the outrage that would ensue were the government to require that New Yorkers buy all their clothes in New York and drivers in Pennsylvania use the toll road.  Indeed, avoiding tolls and other taxes has always been a citizen’s right.  A market-oriented society can even be defined by the individual's freedom to work out the best available, economic advantages for himself, including tax advantages at home and abroad.
        Were governments to discourage and even prosecute tax avoiders they would undercut the foundations of Western societies in favor of a sort of socialist leveling.  Yet this is precisely what is happening right now - more or less unnoticed and therefore hardly opposed - in and between a growing number of countries.  The nations involved are not corrupt Third World states.  Nor are they Communist dictatorships.  They are the free industrial democracies of Europe and North America.  If some fiscalists have their way, an American company installed in, say, France would automatically trigger a tax data exchange between the U.S. and French authorities when it conducts its business through one or more countries in such a way that a saving in tax may result.  Such attempts to give greater powers to tax prosecutors threaten to transform the most prosperous parts of the globe into an Orwellian landscape.
        The most striking of these attempts to prevent citizens from making the best economic deal for themselves comes, of all places, from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.   Back in 1977, a small group of narrow-minded and determined fiscalists managed to manoeuver an unsuspecting OECD council formally to recommend that member countries beef up "their powers of investigation for the detection and prevention of tax avoidance and evasion."  The inclusion of the word "avoidance" signaled serious potential problems for business and individuals.  Increased government power could be achieved, the OECD council recommended, by "making more intensive use of international conventions or instruments in force and by seeking new arrangements of a bilateral or multilateral character."

 Secret Work

        Not to be bested on its own turf of extra-constitutional lawmaking by unelected technocrats, the United Nations promptly followed suit.  In December 1983, a U.N. group of experts presented a corresponding, detailed set of "Guidelines for International Cooperation to Combat International Tax Evasion and Avoidance."
        Between these two events came an even more significant coup.  Members of the Committee of Experts on Tax Law (known by the French acronym CJ-FI, not to be confused with the CJ-IT, which is secretly preparing a convention on insider trading) convinced the Council of Europe to give them the mandate to draft a "multilateral convention on mutual assistance to prevent international tax avoidance and evasion."  After years of working in utmost secrecy, the CJ-Fl prided itself on offering the under-administered world a convention that goes beyond simple methods of preventing international tax avoidance and evasion.  This convention provides for "extensive cooperation between tax authorities in administrative matters."  What we have here is not merely arranging for help in prosecuting crimes: what we have in practice is a call for "automatic" and ''spontaneous" exchanges of taxpayer data, through the most effective means available, including "telex, telephone and exchange of magnetic tapes."  It may also involve "measures taken by judicial bodies," for example, the seizure of assets, prosecution and police interventions within and beyond national borders.
        Only a fey months ago the involved governments received the final version of this group’s innocent-sounding "Draft Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters."  Dubbed the "INTERFIPOL Convention" - a play on Interpol, the international police force - this tightly guarded fruit of years of clandestine legislative work is scheduled to be adopted in September simultaneously by the OECD and the Council of Europe.  It will then be "opened for signature" by member countries, whose parliaments may then rubber-stamp it to preserve the appearance of constitutional lawmaking.
        The draft obliges signatory states to render assistance on "(a) exchange of information, including simultaneous tax examinations and participation in the tax examinations abroad;  (b) assistance in recovery, including measures of conservancy; and  (c) service of documents."  This blanket obligation - which would mean a further bloating of fiscal bureaucracies - covers all tax matters and is not limited to suspected cases of tax fraud, tax evasion or even mere tax avoidance.
        Again, this goes beyond simply setting up a framework for pursuing actual criminals.  The 278-paragraph explanatory report specifically leaves that to other conventions, saying "action by judicial bodies carried out pursuant to criminal law and intended to punish criminal offenses committed in the tax fields does not . . . fall within the scope of application of the present instrument."  Thus what’s going on here is a general onslaught on the fundamental principles of sovereignty and individual rights.  The sole justification for this is offered in the preamble.  There it is stated "that the development of international movement of persons, capital, goods and services, although highly beneficial in itself, has increased the possibilities of tax avoidance and evasion and therefore requires increasing cooperation among tax authorities."
        The INTERFIPOL Convention provides that in some cases "contracting states shall automatically exchange the information."  These cases include tax assessment and collection, as well as prosecution before an administrative authority or the initiation of prosecution before a judicial body.  Moreover, the convention requires member states to provide upon request any information in these areas concerning particular people or particular transactions.  On top of this, if the tax files do not yield the appropriate requested information, then the nation receiving the request is obligated to "take all relevant measures to provide the applicant state with the information requested."
        But that’s not all.  The proposed convention even covers the transfer of information that had not been requested. Under its terms a nation would be obligated to send information if it believes that the other state may be losing tax money, that someone is using its laws to avoid paying taxes in his own country and thus increase the tax burden there, that business has been conducted in a way to take advantage of tax laws, or that artificial transfers of profits within groups or enterprises are being made to save on taxes.
        Finally, the document virtually eliminates national borders.  Upon request, one nation may allow tax authorities of another nation to be present during any tax investigation.  Lest the ultimate aim of all this be missed, the document's drafters spell it out unequivocably:  Under the terms of the agreement, a state must "take the necessary steps to recover tax claims" of the state requesting help "as if they were its own claims" (my italics).
        The INTERFIPOL Convention also gives binding definitions of various terms, even including under the category of taxes "compulsory social security contributions payable to general government or to social security institutions established under public law."  Yet it remains tellingly and purposefully silent on the key terms "tax avoidance" and "tax evasion," saying only that both require "increasing cooperation among tax authorities."  It is but a short step from this to an invitation to "legally" discriminate, pressure and subdue any businessman who has the bad luck to fall into disfavor with the government of the day.  For there appear to be no limits and no redress mechanisms to prevent a witch hunt or fishing expedition against people engaged in perfectly legitimate international commerce.

Fake Safeguards

        The convention's authors didn’t completely forget their basic obligation toward their taxpayers, which is to protect them against foreign taxations in return for their tax payments.  Accordingly, the preamble calls for states "to protect the legitimate interests of taxpayers, including appropriate protection against discrimination and double taxation."  There are even articles purportedly serving that noble aim.  At least, they carry the assuring titles: "Protection of Persons and Limits to the Obligation to Provide Assistance" and "Secrecy."  But on closer analysis, these safeguards turn out to be fakes, for they give little more than lip service to the principles invoked.  They fail to mask the police and fiscal mentality that gave birth to this assault on enterprising humans in the first place.
        Fortunately, all this has not gone entirely unnoticed; it's receiving what is doubtless unwanted attention in the more enlightened circles of OECD member countries.  True, the White House representative to the OECD last July still didn't take kindly to the Swiss government’s commendable side-tracking of the ill-advised OECD ''recommendation" to lift banking secrecy for tax authorities.  But in the wake of some resounding popular votes, the Swiss government seems more than ever intent to speak up for the embattled taxpayers.  The governments of Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Portugal have already voiced their support for opposing this convention.  Will other principled parliamentarians and government leaders also rally around in time to force an end to this alarming piece of self-serving, bureaucratic lawmaking?
Mr. Keller is secretary of the Swiss Investors Protection Association
e-mail: swissbit@solami.com
for convention text, see: http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/en/Treaties/Html/127.htm

May  9, 1986

Off Base at the OECD

        Some months ago we had a particularly pleasant lunch in Paris at he home of the American ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.  One thing that made it so was the enthusiasm the U.S. mission is bringing to awakening the OECD to supply-side approaches to European problems.  Suddenly, the OECD's reports seem full of talk about tax cuts and free market reforms.
        So it's all the more reason to view with alarm the report, appearing in the adjacent columns, of a campaign against tax avoidance thus is quietly gathering steam within the OECD bureaucracy.  The idea is not merely of governments to cooperate in going after real tax criminals who fraudulently evade imposts. The OECD seems to want to target individuals who only seek to avoid taxes by working, banking or investing in low-tax countries.
        The net result of a campaign against tax avoidance would be to subject corporations and individuals to endless investigation and harassment by high-tax states, whose confiscatory fiscal nets millions seek to avoid by entirely legal means.  This is particularly true in Europe, where tax rates vary so widely.  The author of the adjacent-article, H.Anton Keller, has a bird's eye view of this problem from his perch in Switzerland.  Lots of people work, live, or bank in Switzerland to take advantage of its favorable fiscal climate.
        Switzerland is an interesting case.  It helps foreign governments go after suspects and evidence in Switzerland, if the individuals are suspected of doing things that both Switzerland and the foreign government deem to be criminal.  But Switzerland doesn't help foreign governments go after information and individuals in Switzerland if no crime is suspected or alleged under Swiss law.  What the OECD is hatching is a set of principles that would allow governments to pry even when no crime is being investigated.
        Proponents of administrative cooperation in tax matters argue that honest earnings wouldn't be jeopardized.  But that assurance is subject to some considerable doubt.  The agenda here is to end the perfectly legal practice of tax avoidance, and it's distressing that Switzerland is practically alone in sounding the alarm.  The problem that confronts the OECD member countries is not that governments are chary of sharing tax information.  It's that many of them - France, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, to name a few - have tax rate schedules that extract outrageously high percentages of earnings above certain levels: thereby discouraging work effort and encouraging avoidance.  The way for the OECD to help is not to work at expanding government regulation but to press on with the supply-side case for tax reform.

July 11, 1986

A Clarification

        ... When we suggest the OECD is operating in secret on this [INTERFIPOL] tax convention, we don't mean secrecy in the benign sense.  We mean secrecy in the fundamental sense of anti-democratic behavior that governments turn to when they want to do something behind the backs of the voters.
        To be fair here, a lot of the blame rests with the member governments, including the U.S., whose State Department hasn't - and won't - recognize the blunder that's involved in this tax convention.  That won't be apparent until the document hits the U.S. political level, namely the White House or the Congress where there are people who understand about taxes.  Then there'll be a flap and the funding of the OECD itself will come up in the discussion.  The thing will probably drag on for a few months or weeks.  But the momentum that has been built up within the OECD and the State Department, which have invested five years of secret work on the treaty, will likely carry the day.  And one day the American people will wake up with an Italian, say, or a Greek or French tax collector poking through their bank accounts.

August 1, 1986

Switzerland to the Rescue?

        ... First is the violation of the principle of tax secrecy. ... The second flaw is that the [INTERFIPOL] convention gives too much power to the state. ...
        Next is what the [Swiss] statement calls "the absence of essential legal institutions." ...  Fourth, the professional organizations object to the multilaleral character of the convention, which they say wouldn't work in the absence of "extensive legal harmonization."
        ... From such sound advice it follows quickly that this ill-advised convention deserves to be stopped cold.  We'd have tought the Reagan administration would be taking the lead, particularly as the U.S. is about to pass a tax bill that will make it a major haven from wrongful and excessive taxation. ...

December 3, 1986

Sneak Treaty?

        . . .  The [INTERFIPOL] convention empowers tax officials in all the signatory states to go on fishing expeditions in other countries - even where no crime has been alleged.  Consideration of the tax convention had been delayed until today for technical reasons.  In between, however, the International Chamber of Commerce sounded the alarm, and it would be a prudent move were the ministers to delay action on the proposed convention until a later date.  In the time gained, it would pay all Council of Europe members and those of the OECD, particularly the U.S., to take a hard new look at the treaty - a relic that should have been disposed of years ago.
        The OECD proposal would grant extensive new powers to state tax officials, giving them the right to request information on an individual or business firm that merely chose to bank, invest or work in an area where the tax laws were more favorable.  This is not the same as tax fraud, which even states like Switzerland recognize as a crime and pierce their banking secrecy law for.  The legal and economic nightmares such a pact would unleash by allowing state officials to poke into anyone's finances are enormous. ...
        It's not only big businessmen and Swiss bankers who have reservations.  Even high-tax countries like Britain and France reportedly are having second thoughts about subjecting their citizens to the grasp of tax collectors of Greece, say, or Germany. ...
        According to article 30, no other reservation may be made aside from those listed.  So governments are going to have to take it or leave it as the document stands.  With any chance for moderation eliminated by the document itself, what is left is a proposal too rigid and regulatory even for Europe's tax-happy governments.

January 8, 1987

Secretary Shultz's Fumble

        ... Tax avoidance is one of those phrases that has a negative sound.  The concept is particularly irksome to socialist governments that enforce high marginal tax rates and want to trap potential taxpayers.  But avoiding taxes is perfectly legal, if fraud isn't involved.  Tax avoidance is actually a fundamental process of any market system.  It is the process by which the participants in a market economy, be they individuals or corporations, go price-shopping for government services.  No one has a greater stake than the U.S. in ensuring that this process be allowed to continue throughout the Free World - particularly now that the U.S. has enacted the lowest marginal rates in the OECD.
        Word that the Reagan administration is fumbling the ball comes in the form of a U.S. State Department telegram. ...  The proposed [INTERFIPOL] treaty covers three areas of mutual assistance: the exchange of information, the service of documents, and the collection of actual taxes.  The U.S. Treasury, the Shultz cable suggests, is nursing reservations on the latter two areas of potential assistance - but not, it appears, over any effort to protect the right of Europeans and Americans legally to avoid taxes. ...
        It is a principle of the laws of extradition that one country will not extradite to another for something that is a crime in only one of them.  A parallel argument could be made that the U.S., say, need not serve up to the tax collectors of foreign powers funds the U.S. itself wouldn't tax.  Europe has long understood this. ... The energy directed at this effort, in all countries, would be far better spent addressing the real root problem here - high marginal tax rates in Europe, arbitrary and politically motivated collection of taxes in some countries, and unjust exchange controls that cause so many people to try to shelter their money in other jurisdictions. When these problems are addressed the OECD's treaty won't be needed.

OECD und „Soft Law“
Dr. Franz Blankart, a.Staatssekretär  -  2/3/2003
(siehe auch: "Die OECD – Think Tank im Machtgefüge der Industriestaaten")

Die 30 Mitglieder umfassende OECD ist die internationale Organisation der industrialisierten Staaten. Erwachsen aus dem Marshall-Plan soll sie gemäss Art. 1 ihrer Konvention
- das nachhaltige Wachstum und die Vollbeschäftigung in ihren Mitgliedstaaten fördern,
- die weltwirtschaftliche Entwicklung vorantreiben
- und zu einem liberalen, multilateralen und nicht-diskiminatorischen Welthandelssystem beitragen.

Ihre Analysen und die Arbeiten ihrer zahlreichen internationalen Ausschüsse sind beeindruckend. Die OECD ist der Think Tank der industrialisierten Welt zu den Themen Wirtschaftspolitik, Landwirtschaft, Handel, Investitionen, Beschäftigung, Wissenschaftspolitik, Sozialpolitik, Fiskalität, Bildung, Gesundheit, Assekuranz, Umweltschutz, Energie, usw.

Ihre Empfehlungen, Ratsentscheidungen sowie die seltenen Konventionen werden im Konsens gutgeheissen und sind jedenfalls nur für jene Mitglieder verbindlich, die ihnen zugestimmt haben. Empfehlungen und Ratsentscheidungen richten sich an Regierungen und sind im Unterschied zu Konventionen nicht ratifikationsbedürftig. Soweit so gut.

Empfehlungen und Ratsentscheidungen haben „Soft Law“-Charakter.
Betreffen sie, wie bei der Fiskalität Gebiete, die nach Auffassung der Mehrheit nur einheitlich geregelt werden können, erhält eine Gegenstimme oder eine Stimmenthaltung den Charakter eines Vetos. Für eine mittlere Wirtschaftsmacht wie der Schweiz bedarf das Ergreifen des Vetos einer Regierung, die einig ist und den Mut hat, sich unbeliebt  zu machen und sich verstärktem internationalem Druck auszusetzen.

Stimmt ein Mitgliedstaat einer Empfehlung oder einer Ratsentscheidung zu, so ist dieser Rechtsakt rechtlich zwar unverbindlich, moralisch für die betreffende Regierung jedoch zwingend.

Mit andern Worten hat das (sehr professionelle, manchmal auch dogmatische) Sekretariat und haben die Delegierten indirekt eine erhebliche legislative Funktion, ohne hierfür demokratisch legitimiert zu sein, ausser die Ratsentscheidung würde auf Ministerebene gefällt.

Dies ist in der Diplomatie und vor allem in der Wirtschaftsdiplomatie nichts Neues. Doch bergen das zunehmende Instrument des „Soft Law“ und die Breite der analysierten Probleme die Gefahr, dass die Befugnisse des Parlaments ausgehöhlt werden.

Wir sind mit unserer Wirtschaftsdiplomatie bisher gut gefahren. Meine Intervention ist kein Misstrauensvotum. Dennoch ist die heutige Lage staatspolitisch nicht unbedenklich.

Financial Times    11 November 2005

McCreevy dismisses calls to harmonise tax
 By  Tobias Buck in Brussels

    Charlie McCreevy, European Union internal market commissioner, yesterday dismissed calls to harmonise national tax regimes, arguing that it was "healthy" for national governments to compete for foreign investment by offering low corporate tax rates.
    "Tax harmonisation is not on the agenda, nor will it be," Mr McCreevy said in a speech in Brussels yesterday. "National vetoes will be retained and competition between member states for inward investment - some of it tax-based - will continue," he said. "Tax competition is a healthy spur to governments across Europe."
    Mr McCreevy criticised the Commission's drive to harmonise the corporate tax base, a move expected to simplify tax calculations and increase transparency but which some fear would pave the way to harmonisation of rates. Lazlo Kovacs, EU tax commissioner, said last month he planned to propose a single EU tax base in three to four years. "I am emphatically opposed to tax harmonisation - be it by the front door or the back," Mr McCreevy said.
    Mr McCreevy stressed that the obstacles standing in the way of a harmonised tax base were virtually insurmountable: "To establish a common tax base we will need first to get agreement on what constitutes taxable profits. Assuming we can agree on [this] during our lifetime, we will probably then have completed one third of the journey. The harder bit comes next."
    Commissioners rarely cast doubts publicly on others' policies, but Mr McCreevy said: "I didn't corne to the Berlaymont [Commission headquarters] to tiptoe about in my slippers. I do not believe, either, in walking down the corridor with a blindfold, muffs on my ears, or a muzzle on my mouth."

The Washington Times   November 13, 2005

Bad advisers

By Richard W. Rahn

    Do you think your tax money should be given to international bureaucrats who give destructive advice to American policymakers? Well, that is what is happening -- and worse yet, some unthinking souls in the news media and Congress have treated some of these detrimental recommendations with undeserved deference.
    A few examples should suffice. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has just released its 2005 Economic Survey of the United States. (The OECD is an international bureaucracy whose members are the most developed countries, including, of course, the U.S.).
    The report recommended the U.S. adopt a European-style valued added tax (VAT) in addition to the existing income tax, to provide the U.S. government with more tax revenue. A legitimate argument can be made for replacing the U.S. income tax with a VAT, but adding a VAT to the income tax will only enable greater expansion of an already bloated government.
    Ironically, other OECD studies have shown the U.S., and every other OECD nation, has a government sector larger than the optimum for economic growth and general welfare. Heritage Foundation economist Dan Mitchell did a comprehensive review of the economic literature earlier this year, to look for a consensus among various studies to determine the government's optimum size. He found virtually every study concluded the public welfare, and economic growth and opportunity, would substantially rise by reducing the size of government relative to the economy.
    If the OECD had been responsible, it would have urged policymakers here and in other countries to greatly reduce their government sectors, rather than advise how to increase taxes to enlarge the government. But such a conclusion would not have been "politically correct" in the eyes of many of those responsible for writing the checks (from coerced taxpayers) to support the OECD bureaucrats -- most of whom live in Paris.
    Remember, this is the same OECD that attacked tax competition between countries as "harmful" rather than beneficial, as most economists view it. This is the same OECD that endorsed a U.N.-favored scheme to increase U.S. foreign aid spending 450 percent -- from about $15 billion to more than $80 billion per year. This, though virtually every independent study shows government foreign aid (in contrasted to private aid) is largely wasted and unjustified by its costs and benefits.
    The U.N. also continues its war on economic growth and freedom of speech. UNESCO just passed a treaty, despite strong objections of the U.S. ambassador to UNESCO, Louise Oliver. The treaty would impose intrusive regulations on what can be played on national airways, including dissenting opinions. There also is a push to grab control of the Internet from the U.S. and have corrupt U.N. officials control it. If that happens, forget the Internet as a device for the free expression of ideas.
    The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is another international organization of unelected bureaucrats who have seized the right to regulate all financial and related businesses under the rubric of combating money-laundering. FATF makes no serious effort at cost-benefit analyses of its regulations, and therefore has hugely burdened the world's financial industry, with precious little in actual results. Worse, these costs are passed on to customers as higher fees and cut services, which hurt the poor the most. From failure to failure, the FATF demands a larger budget and regulatory power.
    Another rogue is the World Trade Organization (WTO) which has the desirable goal of reducing global trade barriers. However, its bureaucrats also try to force U.S. adoption of a VAT. They do this by ruling the Europeans may "border adjust" (read -- give rebates) their VATs but deny the U.S. the same right to "border adjust" its corporate income tax. (Note: The U.S. relies more on the corporate income tax than Europeans do, because the U.S. does not have a VAT.) This ruling unfairly discriminates against U.S. exporters because they get a higher tax burden than their European competitors.
    Now that the administration and Congress are finally looking for places to cut federal spending, they should begin by sharply cutting the international organizations. U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to be a party to organizations that, in part, undermine both economic growth and liberty.

Richard W. Rahn is director general of the Center for Global Economic Growth, a project of the FreedomWorks
(Efforts to combat the financing of terrorism are costly and ineffective, The Economist, 28.10.05)

FATF: OECD mission-creep & Piper of Hamelin bureaucratic lawmaking

(29.11.05, update 14.9.06 - url: www.solami.com/oecdmandate.htm) - According to the Swiss Bankers Association press release of 29 April 2005, "Switzerland's plans to implement the FATF's revised recommendations go too far and they need to be reworked by financial professionals with practical experience." For The Economist though, mere corner cutting wont wash in light of the FATF's all-around failures & costs. It concluded: "...to curb terrorism by stopping the flows of money that sustain it, must be judged a failure. Complex and unwieldy regulations have been imposed, but are not working, indeed arguably were always misguided. They should be scrapped and resources concentrated more productively elsewhere." (see also: "Turf Wars Hinder U.S. Attack on Terror Cash, Agency Says", New York Times, 29.11.05). And if the even more fundamental question of why & on what basis is asked, the same answer becomes even more urgent. Following is the FATF's background & an outline of how best to stop this buraucratic wildcat train which is causing a universally harmful compliance pandemic.

    Dedicated to the market economy & to "the preservation of idividual liberty",  the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development OECD, is "to reduce or abolish obstacles to the exchange of goods and services and current payments and maintain and extend the liberalisation of capital movements" (art.2, Convention). As pointed out earlier (.../hijack.htm), the OECD has evolved from a pro-market institution to an anti-competition, anti-sovereignty & anti-privacy instrument in the hands of unelected bureaucrats. Under US influence, though, its Council of Ministers, in 1971, explicitly prohibited it to engage in any work directed at social & economic engineering (i.e. in "work on the use of fiscal policy for demand management purposes", Res.C(71)41, §2). Yet ever since 1977, the secretive OECD Fiscal Committee & its Working Party #8 on Tax Avoidance and Evasion (WP8) have found themselves able & willing to pursue their self-fabricated mandate for "combating tax avoidance" (Res.C(77)149(Final)). Moreover, the WP8's French name is: "Group de travail sur l’évasion et la fraude fiscale". This is no accident. All related OECD publications in fact contain misrepresentations, i.e. "tax avoidance and evasion" is always translated into "évasion et fraude fiscale", thus persistently & self-servingly sowing confusion & pretexts for liberty-eroding initiatives & witchhunts.
    These, then, have been the hidden forces & methods behind the long-standing efforts at OECD, the UN and at the EU in Brussels to "harmonize" the tax regimes in the industrialized world.  This is being done by fighting such cleverly made-believe dangers as "harmful tax competition", by both fabricating & seeking to enforce new global taxes and anti-money laundering standards, and by deliberately confusing illicit activities with the very linchpin of entrepreneurial activities & the market system, i.e. tax avoidance.
    All of which calls into question the fiscal arm of the OECD - including the Financial Action Task Force FATF which was hastily set up in 1989 in the wake of the OECD's defeat on its project for an Orwellian INTERFIPOL (Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters). For in the case of the FATF in particular, we are not only faced with an uncontrolled, costly & ill-founded OECD outgrowth with its more than questionable aims, means & effects, as even The Economist found out belatedly (22-88 Oct. 2005). But it consists mostly of self-appointed, myopic & mutually back-scratching international taxmen causing significant damage to the world's productive forces & financial community, not least in the form of a compliance pandemic (see the self-fabricated "remit", i.e. mandate substitute?!, of the "beautifully dressed" but in fact naked Emperor). For the loosers of the INTERFIPOL battle, without a legal basis, initially had formulated 40 primarily self-serving recommendations on anti-money laundering measures reaching far beyond the original domain of drug crimes. And when they met no resistence, they extended their "remit" to mere civil "offenses that generate a significant amount of proceeds", shedding even the pretence of drug or other serious crimes (ATF IA.188/2005). This train of particularly harmful and objectionable aberrations of international bureaucratic lawmaking can and needs to be stopped in its track - lest it further inspire other international bodies in search for work & taxpayer money, and who have yet to be made appreciative of the true costs of the administrative hassles they cause!

Ergo: replace FATF & other bureaucratic lawmakings with self-regulatory measures!
1.  by encouraging US lawmakers to suspend the $70m/y US contribution to the OECD budget until the OECD will have stopped, retracted & corrected all work, links & support which are not in line with the OCED's original intent & purpose and its Convention (notably its Fiscal Committee's mandate, its false translations of "tax avoidance", and its WG8's fixture on tax avoidance, harmonization & competition), and until the FATF will either have acquired treaty status with effects limited to members, or be shut down,
2.  by arming US & other, notably CH lawmakers with arguments & briefs for related work,
3.  by networking and publication of corresponding contributions in suitable journals,
4.  by promoting and participating in suitable professional meetings, i.e. the Oxford and the Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, and
5.  by denying FATF official recognition and build-up (e.g. by replacing ambassador with observer).

Die OECD – Think Tank im Machtgefüge der Industriestaaten

von Staatssekretär a.D. Franz Blankart
(aus: Festschrift der VP-Bank, Vaduz  01.02.2006: siehe auch "OECD und 'Soft Law'")

    Die Organisation für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (OECD) ist die Nachfolgerin der Organisation für europäische wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit (OEEC), welch Letztere  zur Umsetzung des Marshall-Planes geschaffen worden ist. Sie umfasst heute 30 Industriestaaten; sie sind alle der pluralistischen Demokratie und der Marktwirtschaft verpflichtet.

    Gemäss Art. 1 ihrer Konvention soll die OECD
- das nachhaltige Wachstum und die Vollbeschäftigung in ihren Mitgliedstaaten fördern,
- die weltwirtschaftliche Entwicklung vorantreiben,
- und zu einem liberalen, multilateralen und nicht-diskriminierenden Welthandelssystem beitragen.

    Die Arbeiten der Organisation decken den gesamten Wirtschafts- und Sozialbereich ab, beginnend mit der Makroökonomie und dem Handel, über die Fiskalität und die Energie bis zur Bildungspolitik, zur Entwicklung, Innovation und zum Umweltschutz. Die wissenschaftlichen, praxisbezogenen Analysen des Sekretariates und der zahlreichen Ausschüsse, die von Spezialisten aus den Mitgliedstaaten bestückt werden, sind erheblich und überschreiten bei weitem den Umfang dessen, was ein privates Institut oder die Wirtschaftsfakultät einer Universität zu erbringen vermöchte. Die OECD genießt eine beträchtliche wissenschaftliche Autorität und entlastet mit ihrer Arbeit die nationalen Verwaltungen. Sie stellt ihr Wissen und ihre Erfahrung auch den Entwicklungsländern sowie den Transitions- und Schwellenländern zur Verfügung (s. www.OECD.org).

    Neben ihren analytischen Arbeiten, namentlich zu den Politiken der einzelnen Mitgliedstaaten, kann die OECD durch Ratsbeschluss auch  quasi-vertragliche Instrumente gutheißen, sei es in Form von Entscheidungen (welche den EU-Richtlinien vergleichbar sind), sei es in Form von Empfehlungen zur Ausarbeitung neuer nationaler Vorschriften. Diese Instrumente  haben „Soft Law“-Charakter und bedürfen der Einstimmigkeit, so dass jeder Mitgliedstaat über ein Veto-Recht verfügt, außer er enthalte sich der Stimme.

    Trotz seiner „Notbremsenfunktion“ ist das Veto ein zweischneidiges Instrument. Denn das Veto als Ultima Ratio einzulegen, bedingt eine entschlossene Regierung, die es erträgt, isoliert zu sein. Sie riskiert zudem, als Reaktion auf ihre Minderheitsposition, subtilen (legalen oder illegalen) Retorsionen administrativer Natur ausgesetzt zu werden.

    Die Stimmenthaltung ist nicht minder riskant, denn der betreffende Staat kann jene Staaten, die dem Verhandlungsergebnis zugestimmt haben, nicht daran hindern, dieses weiterzuentwickeln. Allein, „les absents ont tort“, außer es handle sich um Großmächte.

    Besser ist folglich, die Verhandlung von Anbeginn an durch sinnvolle Argumente und konstruktive Vorschläge mitzugestalten. Dies ist um so wesentlicher, als die Entscheidungen und Empfehlungen weder der parlamentarischen Genehmigung, noch der Ratifizierungsprozedur unterworfen sind.

    Seit dem Fall der Berliner Mauer hat die Ausarbeitung von Entscheidungen und Empfehlungen zugenommen. Die Mitgliedstaaten scheinen nun die Muße zu haben, sich lange vernachlässigten Problemen zuzuwenden, die in der Vergangenheit tabu gewesen sind. Genannt sei beispielsweise das Übel der Korruption. Wenn dieses Problem erfolgreich angegangen werden konnte, stoßen andere – zwiespältige – Fragen auf Widerstand.

    Dies trifft namentlich für den (angeblich) schädlichen Steuerwettbewerb zu. Der Verteidigung des Wettbewerbs verschrieben, konnte die OECD jedoch kaum glaubwürdig den Wettbewerb in einem einzigen Bereich, jenem der Fiskalität, bekämpfen, und dies um so weniger, als die tatsächlichen, aber hintergründigen Motivationen dieser Übung offensichtlich waren. Aus diesem Grunde spricht sie heute von „schädlichen Steuerpraktiken“.

    Schädlich sind gemäss OECD
- Steuerregimes mit tiefer oder Null-Besteuerung,
- Steuerregimes, die von der nationalen Wirtschaft abgekoppelt sind und u.U. ausländische Unternehmen besser behandeln als inländische,
- Steuerregimes mit mangelnder Transparenz,
- Steuerregimes ohne effektiven Informationsaustausch mit ausländischen Fiskalbehörden.

    Diese Angehensweise beschränkt sich auf die sog. mobilen Finanzdienstleistungen, klammert somit den Steuer- und Subventionswettbewerb bei den Direktinvestitionen aus. Ferner verschweigt sie die Wirksamkeit von Quellensteuern. Zudem widersprechen die koordinierten Gegenmaßnahmen, die bei schädlichen Steuerpraktiken angedroht werden, dem Konsensprinzip der Organisation. Schließlich wäre vermehrt die Eigenverantwortung jedes Landes beim Kampf gegen die Steuerflucht in die Diskussion einzubringen, etwa in Bezug auf die effiziente Verwendung der Steuermittel, die zurückhaltende und damit gesunde Finanz- und Fiskalpolitik und den Verzicht auf unverhältnismäßige Umverteilung. Die Steuerflucht ins Ausland ist ja nur die letzte und legitime Konsequenz einer Kette des wirtschaftspolitischen Fehlverhaltens.

    Um die angeblich „schädlichen“ Steuerpraktiken zu beseitigen, sah die Mehrheit der OECD-Staaten die vollständige Transparenz der Bankinformationen zu fiskalischen Zwecken vor. Dieser Informationsaustausch betraf sowohl den Steuerbetrug (worüber Einigkeit bestand) als auch die einfache Steuerhinterziehung (die in der Schweiz mit einem administrativen Verfahren bekämpft wird). Es versteht sich von selbst, dass jene Staaten, die über ein Bankkundengeheimnis verfügen, dieser Forderung nicht stattgeben konnten. Zudem bedeutet Aufgabe des Steuerwettbewerbs die Harmonisierung der Steuern auf dem höchstmöglichen Niveau, was makroökonomisch und sozial nicht wünschbar ist.

    Parallel zu diesen Verhandlungen hat die OECD versucht, 36 sog. Steuerparadiese unter Androhung koordinierter Gegenmaßnahmen zu zwingen, den Austausch von Bankinformationen zu fiskalischen Zwecken einzuführen. Das Fürstentum Liechtenstein hat dies abgelehnt.

    Nach Verabschiedung der EG-Richtlinie über die Zinsbesteuerung und dem Abschluss eines diesbezüglichen bilateralen Abkommens der Europäischen Union mit der Schweiz, die beide das Instrument der Quellensteuer an Stelle des Informationsaustausches ermöglichen, ist die Diskussion über den Informationsaustausch – vorläufig – etwas versandet.

    Diese Affäre hat uns jedoch eine Offensichtlichkeit in Erinnerung gerufen: In jeder Verhandlung zwischen Staaten - die im Prinzip die gleichen Rechte haben - spielen die Kräfteverhältnisse eine wesentliche Rolle. Man versucht, diese Tatsache mit dem Multilateralismus zu mildern. Wenn etwa der OECD-Rat auf Ministerebene vor dem G8-Gipfel tagt, so ursprünglich deshalb, um dem Letzteren seinen „Input“ zu geben. Doch hat diese „induktive“ Methode seit einigen Jahren an Einfluss eingebüsst.

    Die OECD befindet sich heute im Spannungsfeld zwischen der wissenschaftlichen Objektivität ihres Sekretariates und dem politischen Einfluss ihrer Mitgliedstaaten, welche mitunter versucht sind, diese Objektivität im Sinne ihrer eigenen Interessen umzubiegen.

    Solche Unzulänglichkeiten sind unangenehm; doch sollten sie uns nicht dazu verleiten, die OECD gering zu schätzen. Es sei an die Bedeutung dieser Organisation erinnert: Sie ist der Think Tank der industrialisierten Welt. Und erinnert sei auch an das Erfordernis, auf Delegierte zählen zu können, die den Beruf des Unterhändlers beherrschen, selbst wenn die OECD, wie festgestellt, normalerweise nicht-zwingende Regeln schafft („soft law“). Denn auch solche Regeln bedingen nicht selten die Prämissen einer nationalen Gesetzgebung.

FATF-Marschhalt: aus der Rede von BR H.R. Merz, Bankiertagung 2006
(redaktionelle Hervorhebungen)

Doch auch die Finanzmarktregulierung wird wesentlich durch die internationale Entwicklung geprägt. Wir sind deshalb immer häufiger damit konfrontiert, dass wir sowohl Tempo als auch Inhalt der Regulierung nicht allein bestimmen können. Nun mögen neu geschaffene und weiterentwickelte internationale Mindeststandards im Aufsichtsbereich zwar rechtlich nicht bindend sein. In der Realität sind diese Vorgaben schwerlich zu umgehen. Im Auge zu behalten ist jeweils der mögliche Reputationsschaden bei einem Ausscheren. Störend daran ist, dass dieses "soft law" mit quasi-rechtssetzender Wirkung zunehmend dem politischen Diskurs - und damit den Checks und Balances - entzogen ist. Hier gibt es heute leider erst wenige Kräfte, die Gegensteuer geben.
Es gibt nun einen Bereich, in dem ich trotz internationalen Richtlinien eine eigenständige Lösung und damit eine bewusste regulatorische Massschneiderung will. Ich spreche vom GAFI und damit von der Bekämpfung der Geldwäscherei und der Terrorismusfinanzierung.

Gestützt auf die Vernehmlassungsergebnisse zur Umsetzung der revidierten FATF-Empfehlungen in der Schweiz ist mir bewusst geworden, dass diese Empfehlungen Chancen und Notwendiges beinhalten, aber auch Übertriebenes und Unwirksames. Ich habe darum vor einem Jahr einen Marschhalt verordnet. Inzwischen sind wir in die Verästelungen dieses dornenvollen Dossiers gestiegen. Zudem haben wir Vergleiche mit den Regelungen im Ausland vorgenommen; wir haben Kosten-Nutzen-Überlegungen angestellt; und wir haben schliesslich die Resultate des Länderexamens der FATF abgewartet, das uns über den Stand der Umsetzung der geltenden internationalen Standards Aufschluss gibt. Damit stehen mir nun alle wesentlichen Grundlagen zur Verfügung. Der Marschhalt ist somit beendet. Die Socken sind gestrafft, der Rucksack ist wieder geschultert. Ich werde demnächst die Eckpunkte einer revidierten Vorlage vorstellen. Diese wird wirtschaftlich verträglich sein und gleichzeitig die Konformität mit den internationalen Standards verbessern.

Die Bekämpfung der Geldwäscherei und der Terrorismusfinanzierung bleiben ein wichtiges Thema. Gerade in diesem Bereich hat der Bankensektor bereits viel getan und braucht keinen Vergleich zu scheuen. Ich danke Ihnen für diesen Effort.

Internationale Finanzströme werden immer wichtiger und gleichzeitig auch immer transparenter. Aus Stabilitätssicht ist dies sicherlich positiv zu werten. Auf der anderen Seite gilt es dabei auch, die Privatsphäre der einzelnen Bürger angemessen zu schützen. Diesem legitimen Ziel dient das Schweizer Bankgeheimnis. Es verschafft den Bürgern eine Stellung gegenüber dem Staat, die eigenverantwortliches Handeln ermöglicht. Wer den "gläsernen Bürger" installieren will, der schafft geradezu die Eigenverantwortung ab. Wohlverstanden, das Bankgeheimnis schützt weder Kriminelle noch Terroristen. Es liegt im Interesse einer liberalen Ordnung, Missbräuche konsequent zu bekämpfen.

Wir müssen uns allerdings bewusst sein, dass wir unsere Vorstellungen von Freiheit und vom Umgang mit Bürgern nicht einfach auf andere Staaten übertragen können. Die Landesgrenzen stellen auch die Grenzen der rechtlichen Durchsetzbarkeit dar. Das schweizerische Bankgeheimnis ist aufgrund des völkerrechtlichen Territorialitätsprinzips auf das Staatsgebiet der Schweiz beschränkt. Die Schweiz kann deshalb grundsätzlich nicht verhindern, dass ausländische Behörden auf Daten im Ausland zugreifen, die in der Schweiz unter das Bankgeheimnis fallen würden. Genau darum ging es bei der sommerlichen Aufregung um das Telekommunikationsnetz SWIFT. Ich will es hier nochmals in aller Klarheit sagen: Der in den USA erfolgte Zugriff auf Daten des internationalen Zahlungsverkehrs zum Zwecke der Terrorismusermittlung und -bekämpfung hat die Schweizerische Souveränität nicht verletzt.

Es ist umso wichtiger, dort, wo es in unserer Macht steht, sich für den Schutz des Einzelnen einzusetzen. Dies gerade auch in Zeiten, in welchen individuelle Freiheiten immer mehr eingeschränkt werden und in Folge von Bedrohungen wie dem Terrorismus ein gewisses Streben nach umfassender Überwachung unbescholtener Bürger festzustellen ist.

Aus verfassungspolitischen, realpolitischen und rechtlichen Gründen halten wir eine Konstitualnorm zum Schutz des Bankgeheimnisses für nicht erforderlich. Wir halten jedoch ausdrücklich an unserer Überzeugung fest, dass das schweizerische Bankgeheimnis auch bei einer künftigen Entwicklung der Bilateralen nicht verhandelbar ist.

FATF/GAFI: ein notwendiges oder abzulösendes Übel?
courtesy by: ICONOCLAST - 022-7400362 - swissbit@solami.com - url: www.solami.com/GAFI.htm ¦ .../crime.htm

    17.9.06    -    Es ist wie im Falle des nackten Kaisers, dessen "schöne Kleider" all jene beklatschen, die entweder den Kontakt mit der Realität oder den Mut zur Umsetzung des Wahrgenommenen verloren haben. Die FATF/GAFI, welche uns hier beschäftigt (www.solami.com/FATF.htm ¦ .../oecdmandate.htm), ist inzwischen weit über ihren ursprünglichen Wirkungskreis im Fiskalbereich hinausgewachsen, und zwar ohne demokratische Rechtfertigung, ohne nachhaltige Vorteile, und jedenfalls zum Nachteil der produktiven Kräfte unserer Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Wie schon deren Homepage erkennen lässt, ist die FATF zwar als Taskforce im Dunstkreis der OECD angesiedelt, verfügt tatsächlich aber über keinerlei Rechtsgrundlagen. Als solche ist die FATF eine entsprechend zu handhabende wildgewachsene Ausgeburt des überhandnehmenden bürokratischen Gesetzgebers.
    Als Weltverbesserer sind uns die ursprünglich auf einen kurzen Zeitraum zugemuteten Moralprediger und Welt-Fiskalpolizisten aus dem Pariser OECD-Hauptquartier von Anfang an als systemwidrig aufgefallen. Dies dürfte nicht zuletzt darauf zurückzuführen sein, dass es 1971 dem wesentlich kaum überwachten Fiskalkommittee dieser Industriestaaten-Organisation gelang, sich ein Mandat zuzuschanzen, welches seine eigene Position anhob, im übrigen aber selbst für die Mitgliedländer sich als höchst schadenträchtig erwies, und zudem nie mit den OECD-Statuten zu vereinbaren war.
    Zum Schaden der Wirtschaft insgesamt ist seither nämlich ein Gebot in Kraft, welches nicht nur den Steuerbetrug und die Steuerhinterziehung betrifft, sondern sogar das Kernstück der Marktwirtschaft, nämlich die Steuervermeidung, in Misskredit brachte und sogar deren Bekämpfung vorschrieb. Wen wundert's, dass im selben Geist in allen einschlägigen OECD-Schriften seither eine Falschübersetzung dieser drei Schlüsselbegriffe gepflegt wird. Konkret: "tax avoidance and evasion" wird seither in- und ausserhalb der OECD systematisch mit "évasion et fraude fiscale" übersetzt. Es bleibt dahingestellt, ob die damit verbundene allgemeine und spezielle Verwirrung im ohnehin schon komplizierten Steuerrecht Absicht oder Zufall ist.
    All das fand in den Achtzigerjahren universell abgelehnten Ausdruck in der INTERFIPOL, der OECD-Amtshilfekonvention in Steuersachen (.../Orwell.htm). Und das führte wenige Monate später zu der uns heute erstmals etwas intensiver beschäftigenden FATF. Wie die Erfahrung lehrt eignet sich dieses vom OECD-Glanz ungehörig profitierende Beamtengremium in hervorragender Weise um schwache, nicht oder zuwenig gefügige fremde Geheimnisträger wirksam unter Druck zu setzen. Dabei gehören Schweizer Banken und Finanztreuhänder zu den bevorzugten Druckvehikeln.  Derselbe Nährboden führte übrigens auch zu den überflüssigen, jedoch realen Schaden stiftenden OECD-Projekten bezüglich des sogenannten "schädlichen Steuerwettbewerbs". Doch jenes ist ein hier nicht weiter zu behandelndes aktuelles Thema.
    Was uns sodann schon vor Jahren missfiel - und einige von uns auf die Barrikaden brachte - ist inzwischen auch andern Beobachtern immer mehr und immer unbekömmlicher aufgestossen. Dazu gehören nicht zuletzt die ungehörig anmassenden Schandpfahl-Listen von souveränen Staaten, welche gewissen bürokratischen Wertvorstellungen, Normen und fremden politischen Agendas widersprechen mögen. Diese Listen entstammen allsesamt OECD-Gremien, welche selbst mangelhafte und dringend korrektionsbedürfte Aufträge verfolgen. Oder aber es handelt sich um Arbeiten von OECD-Untergruppen, welche entsprechend selbstherrlich sich selbst zudienen konnten und können, und welche dabei effektiv von niemandem kontrolliert oder zurückgebunden werden. Dazu gehört die FATF, welche damit weniger denn je in die Landschaft völkerrechtlich bindender Abkommen passt. Und welche im übrigen kaum zu vereinbaren ist mit unseren Vorstellungen über demokratisch kontrollierte bürger- und wirtschaftsfreundliche Institutionen.
    Dementsprechend sind Korrekturbemühungen dringend geboten. Mit seinem "Marschhalt" und seinen an der Bankiertagung 2006 vorgetragenen Leitplanken hat der Bundesrat die Voraussetzungen dafür geschaffen. Den Trägern des Finanzplatzes Schweiz obliegt es nun, diese Signale in- & ausserhalb des Parlaments und im Ausland umzusetzen. Es gilt, kritische Massen für die überfälligen OECD-Reformen herbeizuführen. Dazu gehört die Ersetzung der FATF durch Selbstüberwachungsgremien. Zur Vertretung unserer Interessen genügt ein kompetenter Botschafter bei der OECD; unser Botschafter bei der FATF ist durch einen Beobachter zu ersetzen. Und die FATF ist auch durch keinerlei offizielle Stellungnahmen aufzuwerten. Bedenkenswert ist auch der bereits von etlichen Kongressabgeordneten mitgetragene Vorschlag auf Suspendierung der amerikanischen OECD-Beitragszahlungen. Es darf jedenfalls kein Zweifel mehr darüber bestehen, dass wildgewachsene Bürokratien nicht zu nähren und auch nicht durch Nichtstun zu stärken sind. Diese sind im Gegenteil schnellstmöglich in Einklang mit den Interessen unserer Bürger und Wirtschaft zu bringen. Wobei, wie Bundesrat Merz betonte, dem Bürger jene Stellung gegenüber dem Staat zurückzugeben ist, "die eigenverantwortliches Handeln ermöglicht."

From Hijacked Anti-Terrorism Laws to Promoting Individual Responsibility, Cambridge Symposium (8 Sep 06); Bad advisers, Washington Times, Richard W. Rahn (13 Nov 2005); FATF: OECD mission creep & Piper of Hamelin bureaucratic lawmaking (7 Nov 2005); The lost trail - Efforts to combat the financing of terrorism are costly and ineffective, Economist (28 Oct 05); Personne ne sait vraiment si le système anti-blanchiment fonctionne correctement (25 oct 05); Anti-money laundering rules under scrutiny (15 Oct 05); 3ème rapport FATF sur la Suisse (14 oct 05); Die Schweiz im Geldwäscherei-Examen (13. Okt 05); Postulat Stähelin 05.3456: Kosten, Nutzen und Erfolg der FATF-Empfehlungen (17.Juni 05; Zusatzeingaben, oben adaptiert wiedergegeben); Postulat Stähelin 05.3175: Umsetzung der FATF-Empfehlungen in anderen Ländern (17.März 05; Debatte); War on Economic Crime: Qualitative Cost-Benefit Considerations (10 sep 04);  Waking Up to the OECD (30 June 97)


box 2580  -  1211 Geneva 2          t+f: 022-7400362         e-mail: swissbit@solami.com

Anton Keller, Secretary
mobile: 079-6047707

June 30, 1999

lex americana:  end of the tunnel or a self-inflicted and thus reversible fatality?

Dear Colleague,

        The U.S. Banking Regulators' withdrawal of the proposed "Know Your Customer" Regulation, according to the May 1999 CITCO Newsletter, indicates an "ironic development to say the least." For while, therefore,

"the obligation for a US Bank to verify the source of [its client's] deposits will not (officially) be introduced", "a multitude of jurisdictions, mostly OECD countries have enacted local regulations which conform to international pressure and, moreover, many banks and trust companies which carry on business in the small, yet important financial centers, have voluntarily instituted their own customer due diligence policies"  (emphasis added).
        If in this delicate matter the free flow of things isn't to your liking either, we'd like to hear from you. The enclosed documents outline our analysis, background and proposed course of actions (our OECD paper can be viewed fully hyperlinked on the Internet: http:www.solami.com/Orwell.htm). Your own related experience, contacts and ideas could make a dent in the further development. Accordingly, we are looking forward to learn about your views at your earliest convenience.
Meanwhile we remain, sincerely yours,
                                         Anton Keller, Secretary
                                   Swiss Investors Protection Association

see also: "Waking Up to the OECD", 25 June 1999, related WSJ editorials
OECD - Tax Avoidance and Evasion (http://www.oecd.org//daf/fa/evasion/evasion.htm)
http://www.fame.org/about/ab-rp.htm, http://www.oecd.org/fatf/recommendations.htm,
http://www.csbsdal.org/legreg/intlkyc.html, http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Nook/1298/fdic12-98.html,
http://www.csbsdal.org/legreg/intlkyc.html, http://www.aba.com/static/KYC_Commentltr.html"
    full text of the OECD/CoE Convention at:  http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/en/Treaties/Html/127.htm
    texte français:  http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/FR/Treaties/Html/127.htm
convention status (English & français) at:  http://www.coe.fr/tablconv/127t.htm
    current convention status:  http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/53/51/2500002.pdf
OECD (accessed 6.3.09): "The Parties to the Convention are presently Azerbaijan, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Canada and Ukraine have signed the Convention and are awaiting ratification."

Further food for thought:

"If ye love wealth better than liberty,
the tranquillity of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom,
go home from us in peace.
We ask not your counsels or arms.
Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you.
May your chains set lightly upon you,
and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
Samuel Adams, American Revolutionary Leader, 1776
info@givemeliberty.org, events@c-span.org, Foxnews@Foxnews.com, jbanister@freedomabovefortune.com, madrag@worldnet.att.net, bbenson1@ix.netcom.com,

MARCH 17, 2009, 11:54 P.M. ET

In Defense of Tax Havens

If the government suddenly said you would incur more onerous and expensive tax regulations and reporting requirements if you moved your business to a low-tax state such as Texas or Florida from a high-tax state such as New York or California, you would be justifiably outraged. Now substitute Switzerland and Bermuda for Texas and Florida, and France and Germany for New York and California, and you'll understand a new form of "tax protectionism" that is infecting Washington.

Several serious proposals are being floated in the nation's capital that would penalize Americans for investing in low-tax rather than high-tax jurisdictions. Proponents say the measures are needed to catch tax cheats -- but ignore the fact that most of the low-tax jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, etc., already have tax information exchange (for cases of probable cause), or tax withholding, agreements with the U.S. and other countries such as the U.K. and France.

Nevertheless, Sens. Carl Levin (D., Mich.), Bryon Dorgan (D., N.D.), and Max Baucus (D., Mont.), as well as officials of the Obama Treasury, want to make it more onerous and costly for American companies to do business around the world and for Americans to invest elsewhere. They would even make it more difficult for non-Americans to invest in the U.S.

Mr. Levin's bill is a hodgepodge of tax increases, more regulations and penalties on American taxpayers doing business in targeted low-tax jurisdictions. Mr. Dorgan's bill would prevent certain American companies that operate and are incorporated outside the U.S. from being treated as nondomestic corporations, thus denying them the right of tax deferral until their income is brought back to the U.S. Mr. Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is circulating a draft bill that, among other things, would extend the statute of limitations from three to six years for tax returns reporting international transactions. The Treasury Department is proposing expanded regulations on foreign financial institutions that bring needed investment funds into the U.S.

In addition to charges of tax evasion, some members of Congress -- echoing European politicians including France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown -- have even tried to scapegoat the low-tax jurisdictions as somehow being responsible for the global recession. They are demanding that the G-20 countries come up with action proposals against them at their meeting next month.

This is nonsense. The so-called tax havens are for the most part no more than way-stations to temporarily collect savings from around the world until they are invested in productive projects, such as building a new shopping center or semi-conductor plant in the U.S. This enables a better allocation of world capital, leading to higher, not lower, global growth rates.

Indeed, to the extent tax competition between jurisdictions holds down the increase in the growth of governments, citizens of all countries experience more job opportunities and higher standards of living. And to the extent that businesses and individuals are discouraged by taxes or regulations from investing outside their own jurisdictions, they may simply choose to work and save less, period.

Those who demand increased taxes on global capital often rail against financial privacy and bank secrecy -- forgetting they are necessary for civil society. It is true that not all people are saintly. But it is also true that not all governments are free from tyranny and corruption, and not all people are fully protected against criminal elements, even within their own governments. Without some jurisdictions in the world enforcing reasonable rights of financial privacy, those living in un-free and corrupt jurisdictions would have no place to protect their financial assets from kidnappers, extortionists, blackmailers and assorted government and nongovernment thugs.

It is a fool's errand to pass ever more laws against things that are already illegal, or to pass laws against people trying to protect themselves from rapacious and corrupt governments. Despite the hundreds of local, state and federal laws against financial fraud, and financial regulatory authorities like the SEC, Bernie Madoff was able to conduct the biggest ever Ponzi scheme for decades.

The chief tax writer in Congress, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle apparently did not report all of their foreign-source income. Their actions tell us that either the tax law is too complex, or they thought the tax burden was excessive. Would their behavior and that of millions of others improve by making the tax law more complex and punitive?

U.S. companies are being forced to move elsewhere to remain internationally competitive because we have one of the world's highest corporate tax rates. And many economists, including Nobel Laureate Robert Lucas, have argued that the single best thing we can do to improve economic performance and job creation is to eliminate multiple taxes on capital gains, interest and dividends. Income is already taxed once, before it is invested, whether here or abroad; taxing it a second time as a capital gain only discourages investment and growth.

In fact, the U.S. does not tax most of the dividend, interest and capital gains' earnings of foreign investors in the U.S. -- which means, ironically, that the U.S. is the world's largest "tax haven" for non-U.S. citizens, and that we benefit from hundreds of billions of dollars of needed capital invested here. If the U.S. did not treat foreign investors better than its own citizens (who are double-taxed on most capital income), most of the "tax avoidance" problems critics complain about would disappear.

The proposals by Messrs. Dorgan, Levin, Baucus and the Treasury will almost certainly have the unintended consequences of driving more U.S. businesses elsewhere, discouraging foreign investment in the U.S., and actually encouraging more U.S. investors to move their funds (either legally or illegally) not only out of the country, but to places in Asia or the Mideast that tend to be less cooperative with U.S. tax authorities than are the European and British low-tax jurisdictions.

The correct policy for the United States to follow is to reduce its corporate tax rate to make it internationally competitive, and to move toward a tax system that does not punish savings and productive investment so severely. We know from the experiences of many countries that reducing tax rates and simplifying the tax code improve both tax compliance and economic growth. Tax protectionism should be rejected because it is at least as destructive to economic growth and job creation as are tariffs on goods and services.

Mr. Rahn is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, and a former board member of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, which regulates the world's largest offshore financial center.

CFP    March 3, 2009

Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation

12 Featured Blog Entries from February 1 to March 3, 2009 . . .followed by the rest of the blog entries . . .
Tuesday, March 3, 2009~ 4:11 p.m., Dan Mitchell Wrote:
Switzerland Should Stiff-Arm the IRS.In a classic display of arrogant imperialism, the IRS is running roughshod over existing treaties and demanding that a Swiss Bank disgorge confidential client data to American tax collectors. As a former US Ambassador to Switzerland warns in the Financial Times, this is a remarkably ill-considered approach to bilateral relations:

When Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, the Swiss federal councillor in charge of police and justice, meets Eric Holder, US attorney-general, the final item for discussion - according to her ministry's press release - will be US demands for data on American holders of accounts at UBS, the Swiss bank. .intense anger ha .been directed at the US government, which - via the justice department and the Internal Revenue Service - rode roughshod over two bilateral agreements to which it is a signatory. That is, the US ignored formal, negotiated understandings with a long-time friend, a constitutional federal republic where rule of law is enshrined... The Swiss Confederation's first experience with the new administration is of a superpower exerting raw Goliath power, ignoring its own diplomatic undertakings and taking advantage of Switzerland's size and the stereotypical misunderstanding of Swiss bank secrecy laws. US authorities are seen in this instance as being once again arrogant and bullying. . . . UBS and Swiss officials were stunned when the IRS, within days, filed a civil complaint that included a demand for information on 52,000 American UBS customers. A Swiss financial oversight court has ordered UBS not to fulfil this demand. Thus the bank is in the awkward position that its officers would have to violate Swiss banking law to fulfil the US demand.

The more fundamental issue, of course, is how to solve the conflict between America's bad tax system (with its pervasive double taxation of saving and investment and its taxation of "worldwide" income) and Switzerland's admirable human rights policy of protecting financial privacy. The obvious answer is that America should fix its bad tax system. The conflict between the U.S. and Switzerland would disappear, for instance, if the internal revenue code was replaced with a simple and fair flat tax (which taxes income only once and taxes only income earned inside U.S. borders).

If the IRS prevails in this battle, it will be terrible news for people in all nations. 

To learn more about the economic benefits of tax havens, click here:

To learn more about the moral case for tax havens, click here:

And to see why anti-tax haven demagoguery is misguided, click here:

Link to this Blog Entry

Saturday, February 21, 2009~ 6:12 p.m., Andrew Quinlan Wrote:
Who Wants to be More Like France?Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute writes on the Pajamas Media web site that spending $1 trillion dollars to stimulate the economy will not work, in fact it will hurt economic growth. He warns that making the U.S. more like France won't lead to prosperity.  Excerpts from his column are below.. Also, make sure you drop by CF&P's web page to view several of CF&P's videos that discuss these subjects (link below):

President Obama's so-called stimulus is a dark cloud for the American economy. It will increase the burden of government spending by nearly $800 billion over a ten-year time period. At least that is what we are told. But if you include interest on all the additional debt, the cost will rise to more than $1 trillion. And if you realistically assume that the supposedly temporary spending increases will become permanent, then the cost climbs to around $3 trillion.

. . . This ongoing expansion of government has important implications for short-term and long-term economic performance. Much of the recent debate about fiscal policy has focused on the "Keynesian" assertion that more spending somehow increases economic growth in the short run. This is an important discussion, but it is perhaps even more vital to focus on the long-run economic effect of bigger government (interested parties can click here for an explanation of why Keynesianism is misguided and here for a critique of Obama's so-called stimulus).

. . . This is very worrisome since the size of government has a significant impact on economic performance, and the evidence shows that government spending in the United States is too large. Just as there is a Laffer Curve that shows a relationship between tax rates, taxable income, and tax revenue, there is a Rahn Curve that shows the relationship between government spending and economic performance. Outlays for "public goods" such as rule of law and protection of property rights help a market economy function. Spending on human and physical capital, within limits, also can increase an economy's productive capacity. As such, the Rahn Curve shows that government spending, assuming it is modest and allocated wisely, is associated with better economic performance.

. . . There are myriad reasons why government spending of this magnitude hinders economic performance. A large public sector requires an unfriendly tax regime, for instance, and most nations — including the United States — make their tax systems needlessly punitive by imposing high tax rates and subjecting saving and investment to extra layers of taxation. . . . Moreover, many government programs discourage pro-growth behavior (why save when government subsidizes housing, health care, education, and retirement?) and subsidize bad behavior (means-tested programs that make unemployment more attractive than work).

The only good news, at least relatively speaking, is that other nations are in even worse shape. With the exception of Switzerland and a handful of other examples, nations in Europe are burdened by public sectors that consume up to 50 percent of economic output.

. . . Europe's sclerotic economies should serve as a warning for American policy makers. If government continues to grow, it will be just a matter of time before the United States also is plagued by low growth, higher unemployment, and stagnant living standards. Government spending is not the only policy that matters (see here for additional information), but making America more like France is a big step in the wrong direction.
http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/making-america-more-like-france-wont-lead-t o-prosperity/2/

Link to this Blog Entry
CF&P Video's on Obama's So-Called Stimulus, Excess Gov't Speding, Creating Economic Growth and much more:


agefi.com    26-28 juin 2009

OCDE et discrédit durable

A première vue, les apparences sont sauves. La Suisse sort la tête haute du conflit qui l’oppose à l’OCDE depuis des mois. Soulagement de mise, tant les deux conseillers fédéraux en charge des affaires économiques et financières en  Suisse ont parfois donné l’impression d’être complètement dépassés par les événements.

Il ne faut pourtant pas se faire d’illusions. Les contradictions de l’OCDE posent la question de sa légitimité de manière insistante. Si ses responsables font mine de l’oublier aujourd’hui, l’un des objectifs de l’organisation, dans les  années 1960 ou 1970, était la libéralisation des mouvements de capitaux. Elle se voyait d’ailleurs reprocher son approche trop libérale par des ONG à dimension «tiers-mondiste».

Comment, dès lors, justifier sa passivité actuelle face à la montée d’un protectionnisme financier que dénoncent des voix de plus en plus nombreuses? Les mesures antilibérales que mettent en place certains Etats dans le secteur  financier seraient sans doute décriées et combattues par l’OMC sur le marché des biens. Les Etats-Unis et l’Allemagne entendent limiter, quand ce n’est pas proscrire, les activités bancaires extraterritoriales. L’investisseur qui  souhaite placer ses fonds à l’étranger est mis à l’index, les entrepreneurs sont dissuadés de prendre des positions sous d’autres latitudes à coups d’incitations fiscales ou de sanctions. Du côté de l’UE, un projet de loi prévoit d’ exclure les banques ou les assurances qui ne sont pas issues d’un Etat membre.

L’OCDE assure qu’elle s’engagera pour que des règles équitables s’appliquent à toutes les places financières. Jeudi, à l’issue de la réunion annuelle, les ministres de l’Economie des pays membres clamaient leur volonté de «résister au  protectionnisme». On n’en croit pas un mot, tant l’organisation s’est déjà discréditée. Ceux qui ne voient en elle qu’une entité bureaucratique, instrumentalisée par la France à des fins politiques, se trouvent chaque jour confortés  dans leur opinion. Le silence face au protectionnisme financier est assourdissant. L’OCDE avait déjà mis le bon sens à rude épreuve en dressant sa liste de paradis fiscaux. Elle n’a pas arrangé par la suite le souvenir qu’elle va laisser en  se permettant, par la voix du secrétaire général Angel Gurria, de distribuer ses bons et ses mauvais points. Accepterait-on, dans le monde de l’entreprise, qu’un président exécutif note de la sorte ses actionnaires?

Avec le recul, on se demande toujours comment la Suisse peut encore justifier de rendre des comptes à cette organisation. Plus regrettable, ces fautes de goût jettent le discrédit sur l’ensemble d’un travail pourtant réputé et sur  lequel s’appuient nombre d’expertises des administrations publiques. Quelle crédibilité accorder désormais aux analyses économiques, rapports divers et variés sur la qualité des écoles, comme Pisa, ou sur l’aide au développement  dont nous abreuve l’organisation? Tout ce qui, jusqu’ici, était accueilli avec une certaine bienveillance en Suisse suscitera désormais la méfiance. Dans ces conditions, les cénacles politiques et académiques ne doivent pas non plus s’ étonner de voir la participation financière de la Suisse, ainsi que sa représentation à l’OCDE, susciter toujours plus de scepticisme dans le public.

AUGUST 14, 2009

OECD Puts Tax Cheats on Radar

WASHINGTON -- The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is proposing to greatly strengthen an informal tax-information body as a way to crack down on tax cheating internationally

At a Sept. 1 session in Los Cabos, Mexico, the OECD will press to turn the Global Forum on tax-information sharing, a loose grouping of 84 nations, into a formal international institution with a permanent staff of  examiners.

The forum would review whether members are aiding one another in cases involving tax evasion internationally. In particular, the forum would examine whether members are living up to their obligations under tax- exchange agreements, and make suggestions on how to improve.

"We hope to put in place a restructured Global Forum," said Pascal Saint-Amans, who heads the OECD's international tax-cooperation division. The forum would use "a peer-review process to put peer pressure [on  countries] to increase transparency and [promote] the full exchange of information for tax purposes," he said.

Under the OECD plan, Global Forum examiners would review a country's compliance with its tax-information-sharing agreements and issue a report, which would be discussed in sessions with other forum members. The  idea is to pressure recalcitrant governments to be more forthcoming.

The U.S. is lobbying for the measure, but it is far from clear that many developing nations, and especially tax havens, would back a more powerful role for the Global Forum.

One issue to be resolved: Can a country block a negative review from being published? Another: Although even a more muscular Global Forum would work by consensus, does that mean a single member could stop an  initiative?

According to a draft report, the OECD urges a "flexible approach to consensus," so that one country can't block publication of a review.

"For the Global Forum to maintain a strong leadership role," the OECD draft said, "it is critical that jurisdictions which refuse to make progress toward full transparency and effective exchange of information would not be in  a position to block the work." The OECD report suggests that such countries could be thrown out of the Global Forum. That could be a strong deterrent if the U.S. and countries in Europe reduce legal ties with such  outliers.

Richard Murphy, director of Tax Research LLP, a consulting firm outside London, said a more muscular Global Forum could become "an embryonic world tax authority." But OECD officials said their goals are more modest,  and the Global Forum wouldn't try to make tax rates consistent globally or take up other issues of tax reform.

The proposal is part of a continuing effort by the OECD to carve a substantial role for itself. The OECD was founded in 1947 to carry out the Marshall Plan of aid to war-ravaged Europe, but in recent years has been  known mostly for keeping detailed statistics on its 30 members, and creating voluntary codes of conduct.

International tax evasion, though, is politically charged because nations tussle over the prospective revenue and often want to keep the information secret. The U.S. has been fighting Switzerland recently, for instance, over  U.S. demands to hand over client data.

Even a souped-up Global Forum would have a difficult time in making a difference. Under tax-sharing agreements, authorities from one country must make very detailed requests before the tax authorities in another nation  are obligated to turn over information.

The standard is so high, argues Mr. Murphy, that the authorities in the home government would probably have enough information to prosecute a tax cheat even without the help of the other jurisdiction. He says that basic  information on financial accounts ought to be automatically shared among nations.

But Mr. Saint-Amans, the OECD official, said tax-sharing agreements will help investigators who otherwise wouldn't be able to follow a trail overseas.

The OECD effort builds on an April initiative by leaders of the Group of 20 industrialized and developing nations. At the G-20 meeting in London, the OECD published a blacklist of countries that didn't meet international  standards on sharing tax information, and singled out Costa Rica, Malaysia, Philippines and Uruguay. Since then those four countries, as well as several others, have made progress, by signing agreements to share tax  information.

Write to Bob Davis at bob.davis@wsj.com

Washington Times    September 10, 2009

But some low-tax nations - not least Switzerland - are pushing back
Bowing To the Global Tax Bullies
By Richard W. Rahn

Do you think the Internal Revenue Service should have the right to share your tax information with foreign governments -- even ones run by thugs and those that engage in human rights abuses and/or suppress freedom in their countries?

A meeting was held in Mexico City last week under the auspices of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), whose implicit goal is to create a global high-tax cartel. It claims to be in favor of transparency and global economic growth. However, as with many domestic and international government organizations, the OECD's actions are often contrary to its words. In order to create a global tax cartel, the OECD needs to have tax information shared among nations -- which means that the citizen of any country that signs on to this scheme may have his or her tax information shared with other member jurisdictions.

The Center for Freedom and Prosperity sent a delegation to the Mexico City meeting. It included my colleague Daniel J. Mitchell, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Mr. Mitchell has written extensively on the importance of global tax competition, which is needed for economic growth, the preservation of human rights and civil societies. Mr. Mitchell was there to provide intellectual support to smaller, low-tax jurisdictions, which were trying to protect their tax sovereignty, and also to report on the meeting.

The international bureaucrats who run the OECD's Fiscal Affairs Committee managed to persuade a hotel to cancel Mr. Mitchell's reservations and then tried to get him thrown out of the public lobby of the hotel where the meeting was held -- as he was quietly meeting with delegations from lower-tax jurisdictions and the press. Fortunately, when Mr. Mitchell and members of the press objected to the bullying tactics of the OECD officials, he finally was allowed to stay.

The OECD has managed to get 87 jurisdictions to sign on to its global "tax standard." The high-tax countries are using the OECD to threaten low-tax jurisdictions to sign this agreement. It is worth noting that the tax bullies at the OECD and at other international organizations, such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and World Bank, who demand that others pay higher taxes, enjoy tax-free personal income courtesy of the world's taxpayers.

Freedom House, an organization that keeps its eye on human rights abuses and anti-democratic activities by countries, lists a number of the countries on the OECD list of cooperating jurisdictions as "not free" or only "partly free" -- including Russia, China and the United Arab Emirates. Yet some democratic and free jurisdictions have been listed as noncooperating by the OECD. According to the OECD, the U.S. should be sharing tax information with nondemocratic and/or corrupt countries on its list. Worse yet, the Obama administration is supporting the OECD in this wholesale violation of basic rights.

The OECD's mission statement says its task is to: "Support sustainable economic growth, boost employment, raise living standards, maintain fiscal stability, assist other countries' economic development, and contribute to world trade." However, its current attempt to stop "harmful tax competition" -- which is an oxymoron -- and destroy financial privacy is totally contrary to its stated mission. The OECD is supporting the double taxation of capital and trying to quash those jurisdictions that do not levy multiple taxes on savings and investment, i.e., productive capital. Without high levels of productive capital, countries will not grow and new and well-paying jobs will be created only rarely. Taxing capital is not only economically destructive but morally suspect. If the OECD ultimately gets its way, individuals and businesses trying to protect themselves from multiple taxation of their savings and investments -- from thuggish and rapacious governments and from criminal gangs -- will have nowhere to go, and that will be the end of civil society.

The good news is that some in low-tax jurisdictions are beginning to fight back. Last week, the head of the oldest bank in Switzerland (who holds a doctorate in economics from a leading U.S. university) said he was no longer going to invest in the United States because he found the new IRS regulations -- which foreign banks must follow -- so vague, onerous and incomprehensible that he could never be sure his bank was not at risk. In addition, he argued that the economic path the U.S. is taking can only lead to slower growth, and his bank sees better opportunities elsewhere.

From the time of the Reagan economic reforms a quarter of a century ago until last year, the United States had the highest average rate of growth of the major developed countries. A substantial part of this growth was fueled by foreign investment in our nation. Those in the Obama administration's Treasury Department (including the IRS) who are working with the tax bullies at the OECD are driving away much of the foreign investment at a time when it is most needed.

Richard W. Rahn is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth.