Caribbean and Diaspora News Round-up
Britain and US target Caribbean accounts
Caribbean brights minds honoured
The Jack Warner saga
Pan Festival coming up in Japan
US and UK hone in on Caribbean accounts
Both the UK and the US this week announced moves to crack down on their nationals and companies using accounts in the Caribbean to avoid paying tax back home.
On 1 May, the British Treasury announced that it had signed agreements with Anguilla, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Montserrat, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands to share information.
An agreement is already in place with the Cayman Islands.
The Treasury said the deals were part of the British government effort, “marking a turning point in the fight against tax evasion and illicit finance”.
After the 2013 Budget, British Treasury officials had signalled that they had Caribbean overseas territories in their sights, after similar agreements with the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey.
Through the agreements, all the territories will now also share information with France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Asked by Caribbean Intelligence© about the tax pincer movement after the UK Budget, Executive Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke had said: “The net is closing in and options are diminishing.”
Earlier in the week, the US also took steps against Americans using Caribbean bank accounts to avoid tax.
Federal investigators won court approval to serve a summons on Wells Fargo.
It forces the bank’s correspondent accounts at the Barbados-based CIBC First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB) to hand over account data for wealthy American clients.
The summons applies to account data for Americans with CIBC accounts from 2004 to 2012.
Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller said of the US petition: “Our work here shows our resolve to pursue these cases in all parts of the world, regardless of whether the person hiding money overseas chooses a bank with no office on US soil.”
A writer, a medical researcher, an entomologist and a charity network founder were the recipients at a Night of Caribbean Excellence held in Trinidad.
The full list was as follows:
· Kittician writer and academic Caryl Phillips
· Barbadian medical researcher Prof Anselm Hennis
· Trinidadian Rhonda Maingot, the founder of Trinidad’s Living Water Catholic service community
· Trinidadian entomologist and environmental health expert Prof Dave Chadee
The excellence awards are the brainchild of Caribbean conglomerate ANSA McAL.
Meanwhile, in London, the award for Diplomat of the Year from the Americas went to Trinidad and Tobago’s High Commissioner to London, Garvin Nicholas.
The award by Diplomat magazine is in its fifth year.
The 2013 Young Diplomat of the Year award went to Michael Guy, the second secretary at the Bahamas High Commission.
Fifa tackles alleged corruption
Trinidad and Tobago’s former National Security Minister, Jack Warner, was one of the casualties from a report into alleged corruption in Concacaf – the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football.
Mr Warner stepped down from the Trinidad cabinet following the publication of a report on 18 April by the Concacaf Integrity Committee to the Confederation’s executive committee.
The report concluded that he and American Chuck Blazer:
· “committed fraud against Concacaf”
· “breached their fiduciary duties to Concacaf”
· “violated the Concacaf statutes”
The announcement by Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that she had accepted the resignation of Mr Warner, also a former Fifa vice-president, has sparked off widespread discussion across the Caribbean about the management of football on the twin-island republic, as well as a political debate over Mr Warner’s political future.
After leaving the cabinet, Mr Warner also stepped down from his position as MP for Chaguanas West in central Trinidad.
Trinidadian columnist Tony Fraser, a regular contributor to Caribbean Intelligence©, says the governing party is faced with the dilemma of whether to allow Mr Warner – seen as a kingmaker in Mrs Persad-Bissessar’s rise to power – to contest the by-election for his former constituency.
“If the UNC were to bow to the pressure of [Mr] Warner to have him reinstated through its screening process, that would surely demonstrate publicly that Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar, notwithstanding her recent protest to the contrary, is a supplicant of [Mr] Warner, afraid that he could ‘buss ah mark [spill the beans]’,” Tony Fraser wrote in his Trinidad Guardian column.
Meanwhile, Mr Warner made it clear in his resignation speech to his Chaguanas West constituency that he knows where a few Fifa bodies are buried.
In a separate development, an internal report by the Fifa Ethics Committee on bribery published on 30 April led to the resignation of honorary Fifa president Joao Havelange.
Japan loves pan
The Japanese love of reggae has long been documented.
Now the growing love of pan there has led to a second Pan Love Festival being planned for Tokyo next month.
The Festival is the brainchild of Japanese steelpan lover Kentaro Sasaki.
He visited the home of pan, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2005 and performed with Phase II Pan Groove.
After that, he started gathering fellow Japanese pan fans and Caribbean aficionados for last year’s inaugural event, Pan Love 2012.
“The show was a great success, everything went well, there were good vibrations,” Mr Sasaki said on his website.
“Japanese people love pan music.”
Steelpan was first introduced to Japan in the 1960s by a Japanese entertainer who had been living in the US. When Trinidadian steelbands started to visit Japan, interest grew, leading to a healthy spin-off pan industry there.
This year’s follow-up event – the second Pan Love Festival – will include Mr Sasaki’s own Zipangu Steel Orchestra and eight other steelbands.
To find out more about global pan, check out When Steel Talks and Pan on the Net.