HSBC’s Swiss private bank hid millions of dollars for drug traffickers, arms dealers and celebrities as it helped wealthy people around the world dodge taxes, according to a report based on leaked documents that lifts the veil on the country’s banking secrecy laws.
The report from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and several news organizations comes as governments seek to crack down on tax evasion to bolster treasuries depleted by the financial crisis and staunch criticism that the rich aren’t paying their fair share.
The leaked documents cover the period up to 2007 and relate to accounts worth $100 billion held by more than 100,000 people and legal entities from 200 countries.
Among the celebrities named in the docs include music icons David Bowie and Tina Turner, however, both are Swiss residents. Bowie has been a legal resident of Switzerland since 1976 and Turner has lived there for two decades — she even renounced her U.S. citizenship in 2013. Singer-songwriter Phil Collins has seven bank accounts listed in the files, but he too “continues to live and bank” in Switzerland, according to his manager. “It is entirely appropriate for him to have a bank account where he lives.”
John Malkovich is also listed as having a Swiss account with HSBC, but his rep tells ICIJ that the actor has no knowledge of it, suggesting that its existence “might have to do with Bernard Madoff,” the convicted mastermind behind a massive Ponzi scheme that fleeced thousands of investors out of billions of dollars. A representative for the British actress Joan Collins had this to say about her account listing: “In 1993 my client deposited funds into a bank account in London and subsequently discovered that, without her instructions, the money had been transferred to the Swiss account referred to in your letter.”
The report said actor Christian Slater was linked to an HSBC client account named “Captain Kirk,” after the Star Trek character. It was opened in 1996 and closed in 1997. The leaked files do not specify the exact role Slater had in relation to the account.
Supermodel Elle MacPherson was connected to seven HSBC client accounts, five of which she was beneficial owner of. “Ms. MacPherson is an Australian citizen who has accounted for UK tax on the basis of full disclosure in accordance with UK law,” her lawyers told ICIJ.
Some details of such banking operations were disclosed previously, when HSBC was fined in 2012 by the U.S. for allowing criminals to use its branches for money laundering. Monday’s report discloses a more detailed cache of data and information.
Academics estimate that $7.6 trillion is held in overseas tax havens, depriving governments of $200 billion a year in tax revenue, according to the ICIJ report.
The French government received the files from a whistleblower in 2010 and passed them onto tax authorities around the world, including the U.S., Britain and Germany.
HSBC stressed that the documents were from eight years ago and said it has since implemented initiatives designed to prevent its banking services from being used to evade taxes or launder money.
More on the Swiss leaks data here.
Washington (CNN)Six months after U.S. military action began against ISIS, the White House is poised to send Capitol Hill this week language to formally authorize the mission. But it’s far from certain if the measure can pass Congress, which is deeply divided on the issue.
The proposal from the Obama administration, which is expected on the Hill on Tuesday or Wednesday, would approve continued military operations against the terror group in the Mideast, but request a three-year mission so that the next president would have to come back to Congress for new approval, according to a congressional source familiar with the discussions.
The White House will also call for restrictions on American combat troops on the ground, but is also likely to allow some exceptions — such as for search and rescue missions, multiple congressional sources said.
The biggest flashpoint in the debate over this authorization will be on the question of ground troops. Many Democrats are wary of opening the door to another ground way in the Middle East while many Republicans don’t want to rule out those forces if they are needed to defeat ISIS.
“That’s the rub here,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee. “To try to find an AUMF that can have bipartisan support, that can be narrow enough that’s it’s not an open-ended check — a prolonged engagement — and open enough that it can meet the challenge of fighting ISIL.”
When the mission first began in August, the White House insisted President Barack Obama already had the legal authority without congressional action.
But lawmakers in both parties demanded that Congress have a say in debating and approving the mission. The White House eventually relented but, with the fall midterm elections looming and Democrats up against the political wall, Obama officials decided to wait until the new Congress was sworn in.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, is an Obama ally but was outspoken early on the need for Congress to debate and authorize the mission against ISIS, and has been openly frustrated about the White House dragging its feet.
“I’ll tell you what offends me about this. We’ve already lost American service members lives in this operation and we’ve done it without Congress being willing to do the job of having a vote,” Kaine told CNN Sunday on “State of the Union.”
“If we’re going to ask people to risk their lives, then Congress ought to do our job and put our thumb print on this mission and say, it is in the national interest,” he said.
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the Republican chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, plans rigorous hearings on the plan at which the administration can provide greater clarity on the U.S. strategy regarding ISIS, particularly in Syria, according to an aide. He credited the White House for reaching out to lawmakers ahead of sending their proposal.
“There have been serious consultations and there will be more serious consultations,” Corker said.
The new White House proposal will also address the 2002 authorization for the war in Iraq. The discussions are still underway, but one congressional source tells CNN it will either call for repealing it immediately or call for it to expire when Congress passes this new “ISIL-specific” authorization.
Some congressional Democrats who have urged a vote on the effort to fight ISIS also want the administration to agree to roll back the 2001 authorization that Congress passed after the 9/11 attacks. The President has repeatedly said that measure is what gave him the authority back in the summer to begin airstrikes.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN he is pushing to phase out the 2001 authorization as part of this ISIS targeted measure, saying if Congress writes a new bill but allows that one to remain in place the vote on Capitol Hill “is fairly meaningless because future president could simply fall back on the old one.”
Regardless of what language the White House sends, an open question is how Congress will bridge the wide gap between hawks and non-hawks on the many issues involved here: whether to restrict the use of ground troops, whether to include a sunset or time limit for the authorization and whether to include geographical restrictions.
“You have one set of people like Sen. [John] McCain who want to grant the administration a virtual blank check as far as I can tell, and then you’ve got folks who learned from the mistakes of the Iraq war and want to limit the authority. That’s just going to be a difficult balance,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen told CNN.
The White House and Capitol Hill are still discussing the proposal but members of both parties agree that whatever the administration sends will just be the start of the debate and will be altered after committees weigh in.
Passage of the authorization is far from a sure thing, according to a Senate Democratic aide involved in the process who asked not to be identified in order to discuss candidly prospects for the measure. The aide described getting it to a final vote will be “a very heavy lift. I think it’s a long and windy path to passage, if it’s possible at all.”
House Speaker John Boehner has repeatedly called on the President to help convince members of his own party, many of whom are war weary, to help get the votes to pass a new authorization.
While the foreign relations committees in the House and Senate have jurisdiction over the bill, the armed services committees are also expected to weigh in and hold hearings.
The Senate Democratic aide predicted a final measure would not be voted on before Memorial Day at the earliest.
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Sony Pictures, which has been the steward of the franchise since 1999, is partnering up with Disney-owned Marvel Studios to bring a new version of the Spider-Man character to life.
As part of the revamp, the new Spider-Man will first appear in a Marvel film. The companies are not revealing details but that movie is likely to be Captain America: Civil War; the character was a major player in the comics storyline. Andrew Garfield is not expected to reprise the character.
Once the character is re-launched, Sony will then release a new Spider-Man movie on July 28, 2017. Marvel’s Kevin Feige will join Amy Pascal as a producer on the new movie. The duo will “collaborate on a new creative direction for the web slinger,” according to the companies. Ari Arad and Matt Tolmach, who were producers on the previous movie, will now executive produce.
There is also talk of looking for ways to integrate characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the Marvel movies are known, into future Spider-Man films.
The move is a major team-up for two rival studios. Spider-Man has been Sony’s most lucrative franchise, but the most recent installment, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, disappointed. Disney’s Marvel has had unprecedented success with its hero films.
Sony, however, will retain the final creative control and continue to finance, distribute, own the new movies.
Said Feige: “Marvel’s involvement will hopefully deliver the creative continuity and authenticity that fans demand from the MCU. I am equally excited for the opportunity to have Spider-Man appear in the MCU, something which both we at Marvel, and fans alike, have been looking forward to for years.”
“This is the right decision for the franchise, for our business, for Marvel, and for the fans,” said SPE’s chairman and CEO Michael Lynton.
The Spider-Man pact is already having a ripple effect on the Marvel slate, with four titles getting new release dates.
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Thor: Ragnarok has been moved to Nov. 3, 2017 from its July 28, 2017 date. Black Panther will now open July 6, 2018, moving from Nov. 3, 2017. Captain Marvel moved to Nov. 2, 2018 from July 6, 2018, while Inhumans is slotted for July 12, 2019, from its original Nov. 2, 2018 date.
The Spider-Man move has been speculated for some time. Among the fanboy crowd, talk of a partnership between the companies arose last summer after the poor reception of Amazing Spider-Man 2.
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Although the movie made $708 million worldwide, it was the lowest of all the franchise entries. More critically, the movie was widely panned by fans. Talks were confirmed when emails leaked during Sony’s hacking crisis although they seemingly broke down in the fall.
When Feige was asked about the rumored partnership at Marvel’s townhall in October, he responded coyly, “Anything that wasn’t specifically and obviously revealed today is either not true at all, or still rumor until it’s worked out.”
A bail review hearing scheduled for former Death Row mogul Marion “Suge” Knight, who was charged with murder following a hit-and-run that killed one man and injured another last month, has been delayed until March.
Due to the delay, a judge says Knight should stay behind bars until the next court hearing.
The 49-year-old’s attorney and a prosecutor asked for a delay in the bail review hearing, as both sides expressed needing more time to prepare.
He was officially charged last week (February 2) for one count of murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of hit-and-run.
If convicted, he faces the possibility of life in prison.
Suge Knight was arrested for murder in connection to a fatal hit and run that occurred last week (January 29) on the set of the upcoming N.W.A. biopic, titled “Straight Outta Compton,” in Los Angeles.
According to Knight, he was involved in a fight with three men on the set of a movie filming in Compton after the music mogul appeared uninvited and was asked to leave. When Knight got into his car, he allegedly reversed his vehicle and struck a man who was identified as “a friend,” according to his attorney. The man, named Terry, was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Knight is due back in court March 20.