July 20, 2013

Briefcase

Multinationals would pay more taxes under G-20 plan

Stashing profits offshore may soon get tougher for companies, thanks to an ambitious plan released Friday by the finance chiefs of leading world economies aimed at forcing multinationals to pay more taxes.

Low tax payments by major global companies -- including Google, Amazon, Facebook and Starbucks -- have sparked public anger in Europe recently, as governments are struggling with high debts, low growth and austerity measures that are hitting ordinary taxpayers.

"National tax laws have not kept pace with the globalization of corporations and the digital economy, leaving gaps that can be exploited by multinational corporations to artificially reduce their taxes," the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in announcing the new tax plan. It was unveiled at a meeting of the Group of 20 finance ministers in Moscow.

The Paris-based OECD says that the new 15-point plan includes ways to close loopholes and allow countries to tax profits held in offshore subsidiaries. If it is adopted, the measures would be implemented over the next two years and target such practices as deducting the same expense more than once, in more than one country.

The plan also has a special focus on the online economy, where commerce flows across borders constantly and it's harder to tie revenue and profit to a single country.

Judge approves settlement in Toyota acceleration case

A California judge said Friday that he's finalizing a settlement worth more than $1 billion in cases where motorists say the value of their Toyota vehicles plunged after recalls over claims they unexpectedly accelerated.

U.S. District Judge James Selna said he was approving the deal that was announced in December and will affect 22 million consumers.

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Toyota since 2009, when the Japanese automaker started receiving numerous complaints that its cars accelerated on their own, causing crashes, injuries and even deaths. More than 14 million vehicles have been recalled since the claims surfaced.

Toyota has denied the allegations, blaming driver error, faulty floor mats and stuck accelerator pedals for the problems.

SEC says hedge-fund manager didn't prevent insider trading

The Securities and Exchange Commission leveled its most direct shot against billionaire hedge-fund manager Steven A. Cohen on Friday by filing civil charges that accuse him of failing to prevent insider trading.

The SEC alleged that Cohen, who founded and runs SAC Capital Advisors, failed to prevent two of his portfolio managers from illegally reaping profits and avoiding losses of more than $275 million. Both managers provided information to Cohen in 2008 that suggested they had access to inside information, the SEC said. But rather than raise any red flags, Cohen praised one of the managers and rewarded the other with a $9 million bonus, the SEC said.

Cohen, 57, faces possible fines and could be barred from managing investor funds.

Cohen's firm, which once managed more than $15 billion in assets, is at the center of one of the biggest insider-trading fraud cases in history.

-- From news service reports

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