STEPPING UP - ISSUE 7 (31 AUGUST 10)
STEP Singapore is pleased to announce STEP Committee 2010-2011 as confirmed at the AGM on 22 June 2010:
President – Angelo Venardos
|“Up Close & Personal” – Getting to Know your STEP Committee 2010-2011|
Want to find out more about the STEP members who have volunteered their time and effort to serve on the Branch Committee?
Click on each photo below to find out more.
|Professional Advisors Predict Growing Risk of Abuse of Personal Tax Data|
A worrying lack of basic measures to protect taxpayers from abuse when governments exchange tax data has been highlighted in a new report by the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), the worldwide professional body for those advising families on trust and estate planning. Under an OECD initiative there are already well over 300 tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs) in place between countries and the number is growing rapidly. STEP’s report highlights the increasing risk that, as the TIEA network grows, countries with poor human rights records and weak data security will gain access to detailed personal financial data on individuals. This could leave law abiding taxpayers and their families vulnerable to issues such as threats from criminal gangs who have gained access to tax data.
David Harvey, STEP Chief Executive, said: “Most TIEAs so far have been agreed between major economies, such as the UK, and other well run countries. There is now strong political pressure to expand the list of countries accessing tax data via TIEAs, bringing in countries where it is harder to be confident that personal tax data will be secure. It is very worrying, therefore, that so far there are no clear plans to ensure minimum standards are in place to protect the public. It seems extraordinary, for example, that the current OECD review process for TIEAs only looks at a country’s performance in providing tax data. There is no check whatsoever to ensure countries receiving data on taxpayers’ financial affairs protect that data and respect personal confidentiality.”
STEP has proposed a set of minimum standards that countries must meet before getting access to tax data from other countries, including minimum standards of good governance, basic data protection measures and a right of redress for taxpayers if things go wrong. The STEP report can be found HERE.
|UPDATES & DEVELOPMENTS:|
|Highlights of STEP Symposium in Singapore: Singapore Private Wealth Management Update 2010 (22 June 2010, M Hotel)|
The one-day Singapore Private Wealth Management Update held on 22 June 2010 was well supported by STEP members with 158 paying attendees plus guests (STEP members paid $250 each). It was an inaugural event in that it had a purely educational focus with no commercial sponsorship. Compared with the October 2009 STEP Conference in Singapore (350 attendees), which examined overarching and global issues, the symposium focused on the benefits, tips and traps of Singapore as a jurisdiction of substance for PWM.
The keynote speaker was Mr. Michael Hwang SC, President of the Law Society of Singapore and Chief Justice of the Dubai International Financial Centre's (DIFC) Court. He was followed by seven sessions covering a range of topics relevant to trust practitioners in Singapore.
Feedback from attendees was very positive: 80% rated the overall event good or excellent, and 77% rated the event good-to-excellent value for money. Many positive comments were received including “This is definitely one of the best STEP seminars I have attended,” and “Excellent, exceeded my expectations.”
More such events are being planned for the second half of this year. They include a seminar on tax and trust for Israelis, inward and outward investing in India, financial services in the Bahamas and the legitimacy of tax planning for TEPs.
Contributed by Keon Chee - Assistant General Manager, Heritage Fiduciary Services Pte Ltd
Browse our PHOTO GALLERY to enjoy some of the photos taken at the Symposium.
Read some of the FEEDBACK from participants at the Symposium.