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Offshore chess game becoming more and more global

In a game of chess, it often becomes important to pin down the opponent to an increasingly constricted part of the board.

When that happens, the endgame is usually at hand.

In the chess game of offshore tax enforcement, however, there is a different type of territorial dynamic in play. In this post, we will take note of how U.S. pressure to discover undisclosed Swiss accounts has been expanding to more and more parts of the world.

These U.S. efforts led to a guilty plea earlier this month by one large Swiss bank, Credit Suisse. As we discussed in our May 25 post, Credit Suisse not only pleaded guilty to criminal tax evasion. It must pay over $2.6 billion to the U.S. Treasury and hand over certain bank records to U.S. authorities.

Those records may enable American investigators to go after more U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed foreign accounts.

The chess board that is the offshore world, however, extends far beyond Switzerland. And so U.S. authorities want Swiss financial institutions to assist in tracking money transfers to other reputed tax havens around the world.

One of those places is the Cayman Islands. We wrote about that in our April 9 post.

But offshore tax compliance scrutiny also extends to many other places besides Switzerland the Caribbean. The list of countries includes India, Israel, Singapore (a city-state) and – far off in the Pacific – the Cook Islands.

In short, the offshore chess game that U.S. authorities are pursuing is taking place on a stage that is becoming ever-more global in scope.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "U.S. Broadens Hunt for Tax Evaders," Devlin Barrett, May 27, 2014

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