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US indicts Swiss bank on tax charges

The US has indicted the oldest bank of Switzerland on charges of conspiracy to hide over USD 1.2 billion

Washington: The US has indicted the oldest bank of Switzerland on charges of conspiracy to hide over USD 1.2 billion ? the first time ever that a foreign bank has been charged here for facilitating tax fraud by American taxpayers reports PTI

The US move comes at a time when a country like India is struggling to how to address the issue of billions of black money stashed in various Swiss banks.

The Justice Department yesterday announced that it has also seized more than USD 16 million from Wegelin & Co's correspondent bank account in the US, in accordance with a civil forfeiture complaint and seizure warrant.

Wegelin, founded in 1741, is Switzerland's oldest bank.

"As alleged, Wegelin Bank aided and abetted US taxpayers who were in flagrant violation of the tax code," said Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

"And they were undeterred by the crystal clear warning they got when they learned that UBS was under investigation for the identical practices," he said.

"Today's indictment makes clear that we will seek to punish not only those US taxpayers who violate the law in an effort to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, but also the individuals and entities who facilitate their crimes," said Preet Bharara, an Indian-American.

From 2002 through 2011, Wegelin, Berlinka, Frei and Keller conspired with various US taxpayers and others to hide the existence of bank accounts held at Wegelin and the income generated in those secret accounts from the IRS, the Justice Department said.

Berlinka, Frei, and Keller, 41, 51 and 47, respectively, reside in Switzerland. They each face a maximum term of five years in prison, a maximum term of three years of supervised release and a fine of the greatest of USD 250,000, or twice the gross gain derived from the offense or twice the gross loss to the victims.

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SC poses questions to govt on army chief’s age row

The Supreme Court said there were other remedies available for Gen VK Singh if the government withdraws its 30th December order. It said in that case Gen Singh’s statutory complaint against 21st July order can be reconsidered by the authorities and there was also an option for him to approach the Armed Forces Tribunal

New Delhi: Army chief Gen VK Singh seems to have won the first round in the legal battle on the age row with the Supreme Court Friday saying the manner in which his statutory complaint was rejected by the government “appears to be vitiated”, reports PTI.

Posting the matter for hearing on 10th February, the court sought to know whether the government would like to withdraw its 30 December 2011 order.

Defence minister AK Antony had issued an order on 30th December turning down the statutory complaint of Gen Singh that his date of birth be treated in Army’s records as 10 May 1951 and not as 10 May 1950.

Posing questions to the government, the bench of justices R M Lodha and HL Gokhale was of the view that the defence ministry’s order of 21 July 2011 holding the date of birth as 10 May 1950 was based on the opinion of attorney general and so was the case when the 30th December order was passed on the statutory complaint.

After the court asked whether the government would like to withdraw the 30th December order, attorney general GE Vahanvati said he will seek instruction from the government on the issue.

The court said there were other remedies available for Gen Singh if the government withdraws its 30th December order.

It said in that case Gen Singh’s statutory complaint against 21st July order can be reconsidered by the authorities and there was also an option for him to approach the Armed Forces Tribunal.

During the hearing, the bench observed that when it was held that Gen Singh’s complaint was not maintainable, the only remedy he had was to approach the apex court.

From the outset, the bench questioned the decision-making process of the government.

“We are not concerned as much with the decision but we are concerned with the decision-making process which is vitiated as the 21st July order was also based on the consideration of opinion given by the attorney general and when the statutory complaint of the army chief was decided on 30th December, there also attorney general’s opinion was taken into consideration,” the bench observed.

The bench further said, “The material on record will not withstand the test of principle of natural justice and principle of ultra vires.” 

The attorney general and solicitor general Rohinton Nariman defended the government action and said on the facts no prejudice is caused to Gen Singh.

Reacting to the court order, one of Gen Singh’s counsel Punit Bali said they were definitely happy with the order but would not go into the merits of the case since it is sub judice.

He said the main question raised by the court was can the authority which rejected the general’s statutory complaint base its decision on the advice of the attorney general who had earlier advised the Government to come to a conclusion in its 21st July order.

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Needs Analysis proposed for sale of life insurance policy

It is required to ensure that the life insurance product that is proposed to be sold is suitable for the prospect and meets his or her needs.

Needs Analysis by the intermediaries and the insurance companies is necessary before effecting the sale of a life insurance policy in order to ensure that the product that is proposed to be sold is suitable for the prospect and meets his or her needs.

It is proposed to mandate carrying out Needs Analysis for life insurance policies. Insurers shall, in terms of Regulation 4 (1) of the IRDA (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority) Regulations for Protection of Policyholders’ Interests, 2002, adopt a standard Proposal cum Needs Analysis form.

It is also proposed to issue guidelines to life insurance companies to develop and implement a Prospect Product Matrix that will serve as a tool to assess whether or not the proposed sale is based on the Needs Analysis. This shall currently be made applicable to all life insurance policies (Traditional, ULIPs, Pension and Health) sold as individual policies.

The Draft Guidelines, along with an illustration of a Prospect Product Matrix (Annexure B) and the Standard Proposal cum Needs Analysis form (Annexure A) are put up on the IRDA website.

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