The legislative opposition in Costa Rica has once again submitted a replacement text for the law against tax fraud, eliminating from the project the seizure of bank accounts of companies suspected of tax evasion.
With the motion filed by the opposition deputies are aiming to prevent the Directorate General of Taxation from having the capacity to seize or ask a judge to seize bank accounts of taxpayers suspected of tax evasion.
A bill approved in the Legislative Commission creates a register of shareholders to which the tax authority would have unrestricted access.
The main objective of the project against tax fraud is to enable the Directorate General of Taxation to seize the assets and bank accounts of taxpayers classified as delinquent, under the order of a judge.The embargoes could be extended for a period of up to two years.
The Panamanian government has announced its willingness to review current practices in the legal and financial system and collaborate with other governments in legal proceedings over financial and tax offenses.
Following the massive leak of financial information from a Panamanian law firm, the Government announced that it is evaluating the practices relating to its financial system and that it will collaborate with other jurisdictions to investigate citizens suspected of criminal activities, including tax evasion. The announcement was made by President Juan Carlos Varela.
The new charges of tax evasion against Aceros de Guatemala demonstrates how the cumbersome procedures for receiving tax returns foster dishonesty among officials and businessmen.
The Justice Department and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala have accused the company Aceros de Guatemala of committing tax fraud and customs fraud offenses, worth more than the $33 million, and which could be linked to the of customs fraud network dismantled a few months ago known as "The Line".
Treasury data shows that in respect to income tax on legal persons, there was a 70% shortfall on potential revenue, representing 4.23% of GDP.
"... We are still finding fraud, smuggling, omissions, arrears and taxpayers taking advantage of weaknesses in our laws, they are still looking for ways to default on their obligations, therefore we are trying to improve controls and our tax laws," said Helio Fallas, Minister of Finance in Costa Rica.
A proposal has been made to create a special and temporary tax on assets above a certain amount in order to finance the operations of the Public Prosecutor against impunity and corruption in the state.
Ivan Velasquez, head of the International Commission against Impunity (CICIG), believes it is necessary to move on from "... discussing corruption to taking action", and therefore is proposing, together with the Public Ministry, the creation of a new tax to strengthen the institution's budget in the fight against impunity and corruption.
The General Attorney noted that the number of employers allegedly involved in customs fraud related to the case known as "The Line", could reach 1,500.
An article on S21.com reports that after consulting the Attorney General over the possible flight of businesspeople, Thelma Aldana said that "it has been ruled out because they do not know 'who is going to be cited'. She said the MP has not asked for the arrest of these people because they can not saturate the agenda of the judge, however, she warned that if the summons is not presented 'arrest warrants will be requested.' "
As part of a fraud investigation, the temporary closure has been ordered for ten stores belonging to Panama's Grupo Wisa, which operates in the Guatemalan airport under the La Riviera brand.
The order given by the public prosecutor of Guatemala is part of an open investigation for fraud and involves the temporary closure of ten branches and a warehouse belonging to the company Tiendas Libres de Guatemala S.A., known as La Riviera.
In Costa Rica the bill against tax fraud has removed the power of the tax authorities to collect and put in place embargoes through an administrative decision.
Instead, members of the ruling party will support the proposal that tax debts be resolved in the courts, "... as the Ministry of Finance negotiated with representatives of the National Liberation Front party (PLN), Social Unit Cristian Party (PUSC) and the Libertarian Movement Party. " The only condition imposed by the Citizen Action Party (PAC) is that the requests for embargos be resolved by the courts within a period of 3 working days.
The Guatemalan president will stand trial on charges of conspiracy, bribery and special case of customs fraud.
Judge Miguel Angel Galvez issued an indictment against former President Otto Perez Molina, after analyzing the evidence presented by the prosecution and the International Commission against Impunity (CICIG).
With 132 votes in favor, the Congress decided to remove the president's immunity, who will have to face the accusations of corruption.
While the president insists on staying in office, the commission appointed to examine the arguments in President Perez Molina's defense and evidence presented by the prosecution decided unanimously to recommend to Congress to waive his immunity so that he faces judgement. On September 1st, the Congress voted and decided to remove the inmunity.
In the view of the private sector the decision taken by President Perez Molina to remain in his position contributes to the further deterioration of the country's image, at a time when the economy is showing signs of stability.
Just as the decision by the Public Ministry and the International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG) to conduct an investigation was applauded by the Guatemalan business sector, the president's decision to remain in office has not been well received and has caused deep concern, mainly because of the negative impact it has on the country as a destination for foreign investment.
The Public Ministry of Guatemala believes it is "likely" that President Otto Perez Molina was involved in the customs fraud network known as "La Línea" and has called for his impeachment in the Supreme Court.
The International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG) and the Public Prosecutor filed a request to lift the immunity of President Otto Perez Molina and to carry out a formal investigation based on the evidence which has been gathered.
The new draft law on tax fraud prepared by the opposition and which must be reviewed by the Ministry of Finance excludes the concept of collection and seizure by administrative authorities.
After having negotiated for the opposition bloc in Congress to amend the bill originally submitted by the Ministry of Finance, the new bill is ready and among the changes is the elimination of the incorporation of the concept of fines and embargos imposed administratively. It maintains the collection and seizure of tax debts through the courts.
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