Author: Michael West

Foreign Bribery: Australia’s loss is America’s gain

A light chuckle rippled through the audience at a breakfast event last Thursday morning in offices of McGrathNicol in Sydney’s Martin Place. The cause for mirth was the suggestion that the worst punishment a company director could face in Australia, if busted for bribing a foreign official, was a ban from acting as a director ten years’ down the track. It was weary acknowledgement that white collar crime does pay, as few perpetrators are ever prosecuted and far fewer punished. The breakfast, a symposium on foreign bribery held by McGrathNicol and law firm Piper Alderman, was held under the...

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Quest for Public Information

It’s up there with the Holy Grail, the Golden Fleece, even Kevin Rudd’s crusade for the United Nations. It’s the Great Quest for Public Information in Australia. We’ve been bounced from the corporate regulator to the Department of Finance, back to the regulator once more, then on to Treasury. Find out where we are off to next in our pilgrimage to access what they call “public information” in Australia; information about the world’s biggest companies, about the tax affairs of multinationals, information critical to the public interest, information which is supposedly public. Today, we interview forensic accountant and fellow...

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Mine voids: big party, now for the hangover

Mining companies and regulators have gravely underestimated the costs of mine rehabilitation, leaving taxpayers in the gun for billions of dollars in clean-up costs, says Rick Humphries. He should know. Humphries was Rio Tinto’s top adviser on land use before heading up mine rehabilitation for base metals group MMG. The environmental scientist has since “switched sides” to consult for conservation groups on mine closure. “The problem is there is a very large and growing environmental liability and if it’s not put in check it will cost taxpayers dearly, and result in large scale degradation of national resources,” Humphries told...

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Wilson Parking’s tax numbers appear to defy economic reality

Many readers will know the feeling of being silently, financially assaulted when parking in the city or at the airport, getting to the boom gate only to find the two-hour threshold has just passed and the fee is a cool $66. Parking charges are eye-watering, but you may be surprised to hear that car-parking companies toil for paper-thin profit margins. On Monday night ABC’s Four Corners aired an investigation into the murky world of tax havens and the Australian security company that’s allegedly implicated. Mysteriously thin even. Take Wilson Parking for instance, the company recently embroiled in the Panama...

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NSW Power Sale Profits could end up in Cayman Islands

A goodly chunk of the future corporate profits from the NSW power sale are destined to wend their merry way to the Cayman Islands. This is probably why the winning bidder – a consortium of Victorian power group Spark, asset manager Hastings and three offshore funds – could afford to stump up the heroic $10.3 billion to trump the Transgrid tender; they ain’t counting on paying much tax. NSW Premier Mike Baird has sold the state’s electricity business, but there could be tax implications. NSW Premier Mike Baird has sold the state’s electricity business, but there could be tax...

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New Michael West Podcast

Created by PodcastOne, this 3 part series looks into how Australia has gone from one of the cheapest countries in the world for energy to one of the most expensive, and reveals just what has happened with our gas and electricity supply and why we are on the verge of an energy crisis.

Listen to THE ENERGY TRUTH on the PodcastOne website

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