Posts Tagged ‘tax’

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Another Eritrean embassy engages in extortion

January 10, 2014

It happens in Kenya, Canada, Britain, and, according to a new report, in Israel as well.  Eritrean diplomats carry out the dirty work of the dictatorship back home by forcing Eritreans living abroad to pay an illegal tax.

That tax funds the dictatorship and the al-Shabaab terrorist organization it supports.

Not only is the use of ambassadors and consuls to collect such a tax a violation of international consular law, but this latest case represents a violation of an Israeli law that caps foreign remittances.

The Eritrean embassy instructed Eritreans in Israel to remit their tax payments to a bank in Frankfurt, Germany, for follow-on transfer to Eritrea.

It’s become clear that Eritrean embassies really don’t help ordinary Eritreans who have attempted to make better lives for themselves abroad.  The “diplomats” are regime henchmen, fomenting strife within and extortion against the communities which they are supposed to serve.  The ultimate beneficiary is the repressive regime in Eritrea and its al-Shabaab partner.

From the Jerusalem Post, with a tip of the hat to El Grillo:

Eritrean Embassy offering advice how to make illegal money transfers

By BEN HARTMAN

12/23/2013 02:44

Migrants make claims day after brawl involving dozens of Eritrean regime opponents and supporters at Kibbutz Kinneret.

The Eritrean Embassy in Israel is advising migrants in Israel how to transfer money back to Eritrea through a bank account in Germany, contrary to Israeli law, which forbids such transfers, a group of Eritrean migrants said at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

The migrants called the press conference the morning after a brawl involving dozens of regime opponents and supporters at an event organized by the embassy at Kibbutz Kinneret on Saturday, in which over a dozen people were wounded and around 15 arrested. They said that the embassy gave instructions to migrants about how to transfer money and also advertised real estate in Eritrea, telling them that it was a good opportunity for them to build a house back in their home country.

A law passed earlier this year makes it illegal for African migrants to transfer money out of Israel to their home country, and assigns stiff penalties to people found breaking this law, or Israelis found helping Africans wire money home.

The law stipulates that the transfer must be less than the minimum wage in Israel divided by the number of months the person has been in the country.

There were several hundred migrants taking part in the press conference on Saturday, activists in Tel Aviv said Sunday. They said a group of around 60 regime opponents arrived and were accused of being “Ethiopian instigators” by ambassador Tesfemariam Tekeste, at which time the say they were attacked.

The regime supporters and the ambassador said they were peacefully holding the meeting when they were set upon by Eritrean men wielding sticks and throwing rocks, with some wielding knives and screwdrivers.

At the press conference in an events hall near the Tel Aviv central bus station, regime opponents showed a pamphlet they say was being handed out by regime supporters at the event the previous day, which showed details of a bank called “Commerzbank” in Frankfurt. The pamphlet included a Swift code and details for transferring money through the German bank to the Housing and Commerce Bank of Eritrea, where they were told to specify that the money was meant for the “Urban Development Eritrea – Housing Project 2013.”

For unclear reasons, the pamphlets were in English, not Tigrinye.

The Eritrean government requires citizens in the diaspora to pay a monthly tax in order to retain their passport and that tax as well as money sent home by citizens outside the country are major sources of revenue for the Eritrean government…

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Eritrean Britons swept into diaspora tax dragnet

August 13, 2013

Just like Eritreans in Canada and Kenya.  In violation of international law, the tax on Eritreans living abroad helps fund the repressive dictatorship in Eritrea and helps fund al-Shabaab terrorists, too.  Thanks to Raphael and Aisha for sending this in from the International Business Times:

Eritreans living in the UK are being forced by their own government to pay a “diaspora tax” that ultimately funds the secretive country’s network of influence in the Horn of Africa, including supporting the al-Shabaab group of militants in Somalia, an IBTimes UK special investigation has uncovered.

The collection of a 2% income tax on Eritrean nationals living abroad violates UN resolution 2023 (2011) which condemns Eritrea’s use of the tax to “destabilise the Horn of Africa region and to violate the sanctions regime”. Some of the money is used to procure weapons for armed opposition groups.

The UN Security Council hardened sanctions against Eritrea in December 2011 over its alleged support for Islamist militant groups such as Somalia’s al-Shabaab…

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Government shares wealth with MILF

July 18, 2013

The central government of the Philippines has brokered a deal with the radical Moro Islamic Liberation Front to split revenues generated in the breakaway southern island of Mindanao.  The MILF (or “Bangsamoro”) will receive 75 percent of tax revenues, 75 percent of mining revenues, and 50 percent of fossil fuel revenues, with the central government retaining the balance.  The “crown jewel” of the agreement is that the MILF will receive their whopping cut through an automatic, annual, haggle-free grant from the central government.

It remains to be seen which taxes, such as zakat, jizya, or kharaj, the MILF may seek to impose on Mindanao residents.  The agreement is reminiscent of a truce between the government of Pakistan and militants in the tribal belt that resulted in the imposition of jizya against Sikhs in that country in 2009.

From the Philippine Star on Tuesday:

MANILA, Philippines – A wealth-sharing deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is advantageous to the country and “will stand the test of legality and constitutionality,” the chief of the government panel negotiating peace with Muslim rebels said yesterday.

In a press briefing at Malacañang, chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said a wealth-sharing scheme approved on Saturday was justified as it would make the envisioned Bangsamoro entity self-sustaining and progressive.

The Bangsamoro is also entitled to automatic appropriation from the central government.

Based on the agreement, the Bangsamoro entity gets 75 percent share in taxes and revenues from natural resources and metallic minerals and 50 percent from energy and other mineral resources.

Ferrer said that of all the provisions in the wealth-sharing annex, “the jewel in the crown” was the provision entitling Bangsamoro to automatic appropriation and regular release of budget.

The allocation will be in the form of an annual “block grant” from the central government similar to the internal revenue allotment (IRA) received by local government units.

“The formula for the automatic appropriation of block grant will be provided in the basic law. Many of us have not focused on this detail because much of the reporting on media have concentrated on the sharing arrangements with regard to natural resources but, as I said, this is the jewel in the crown,” Ferrer said.

At the same time, Ferrer said the agreement provided that revenues collected by the Bangsamoro from additional taxes and their share in government income from natural resources would be deducted from the annual block grants on the fourth year of the operation of the regular Bangsamoro government.

“This provision came from the MILF. It indicated that behind the haggling for more share is the intent to be less and less dependent on the national government,” Ferrer said.

“It indicated that the intention is not to get the ‘lion’s share’ for its own sake but to be able, in the future, to stand tall as a progressive and peaceful region; an equal partner of the central government in an equally peaceful and progressive country,” she said.

“This, indeed, is the true meaning of partnership – a partnership that is not based on dependency and patronage, but on the strength and capacities introduced by both for the benefit of the whole,” she added.

Ferrer said this was a unique provision because there would be automatic appropriation that would spare the region from the constraints of central budgeting process.

“I would like to say that this is a structural difference. This is not just an add-on in terms of additional percentage or whatever but this, basically, redefines the whole structure with regard to the financing of the Bangsamoro government,” Ferrer said…

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Eritrea collecting illegal tax in Canada

June 11, 2013

The repressive government of Eritrea imposes a 2 percent income tax on Eritreans living abroad.  Eritrea uses revenues from the tax for operations of its ruling party, payouts to the terrorist group al-Shabaab, and to buy weapons for potential use by Eritrea against Ethiopia.  The tax is usually collected by Eritrean diplomats in violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Canada told the Eritrean consulate in Toronto to stop the tax collections last year.  The consulate agreed in writing, but CBC reports that the Eritrean consul is still personally soliciting tax payments.

In an article accompanying the video report, CBC offers further detail:

…The regime relies on diaspora cash for hard currency. But according to the UN, it also uses its money to support armed rebels opposing Ethiopia, and others with ties to the notorious al-Shabaab movement in Somalia.

Because of Eritrea’s destabilizing role in the troubled Horn of Africa, the UN imposed sanctions on the country in 2009, hoping to choke off its access to arms and money.

Canada later adopted them, meaning those who pay are violating UN sanctions and may also be breaking Canadian law according to past reports.

Through it all, the consul has not been shy about his country’s intention to keep collecting cash no matter how Canada views it…

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Atlanta’s “largest and oldest” mosque faces tax sale

March 12, 2012

Legal notice from DeKalb Champion, Mar. 8, p. 20C

A tax lien has been filed against the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, the self-proclaimed “largest and oldest Islamic community in Metro Atlanta.”  The owners of the mosque must pay about $6,000 to satisfy the lien and prevent the property from being sold on the courthouse steps of DeKalb County on Apr. 3.

The Atlanta Masjid normally pays about $10,000 in local property taxes a year for its property on 562 Fayetteville Road, but has only made a partial payment for 2011.  The mosque also owes smaller amounts on adjoining property it owns at 560 and 596 Fayetteville Road.

Details of Atlanta Masjid’s finances are not available to the public because the organization has no tax form 990 on file with the Internal Revenue Service.  Its website seeks zakat donations for the mosque, for Eid, and for the schools operated by the mosque.  The mosque has a “Majlis Ash-Shura Board” which appears to have marginal oversight over funding, but it does not appear to have a dedicated finance committee.  Daaiyah Shakir is listed as the mosque’s treasurer.

Atlanta Masjid caught the attention of Atlas Shrugs in 2008 for a potential violation of 501(c)(3) tax law by hosting a political event for Barack Obama onsite.

Despite its tax problems, the mainstream media is content to present only a positive image for Atlanta Masjid.  CNN has reported warmly on the mosque before, calling one of its Ramadan iftars “splendid,” and touting the mosque’s “community outreach.”  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution assured readers that Atlanta Masjid is “egalitarian, mainstream” (while showing a photo of male-only worship) during the mosque’s alleged 50th anniversary.

The mosque’s imam, Mansoor Sabree, made news in Georgia during the Ground Zero Mosque controversy for endorsing a mosque “anywhere, anywhere in America.”

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Hawala tax presentation

October 13, 2011

Not fond of reading a 2,000 word essay?  Not to worry.  Here’s the abridged rationale behind our proposed tax on hawala boiled down to just 11 slides:

If you like the idea, please help spread the word!

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Eritrea embassy in Kenya pays jihadists

September 13, 2011

A follow-up from the U.N.’s monitoring group’s report on the Horn of Africa has crossed our path.  According to this article from the East African on Aug. 7, Eritrea is an active state sponsor of al-Shabaab’s terror, and it uses its embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, to distribute funds to jihadi operatives:

The bad boy of the Horn of Africa: How Eritrea’s strongman uses Kenya as a terror finance hub

In early July, as Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki headed to Addis Ababa to chair a meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), a six-country partnership formed to address issues of drought, security and development in the Horn of Africa, he sounded a stern warning to Eritrea.

For Kibaki, a president who is not known for his love of dramatic public gesture, to adopt a hostile posture against another country, there must have been more to the issue than the government was revealing to the public.

In March, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi — whose country has a strong security partnership with Kenya — had also warned that his government would use “all possible means” to depose Eritrea’s 67-year old strongman Isaias Afewerki, with whom he had fought a bloody secessionist war that killed 70,000 people between 1998 and 2000.

However, with the release of the UN Monitoring Group report on Somalia and Eritrea last week, it is now becoming clearer why Afewerki has gained the reputation of the bad boy of the Horn of Africa, a pariah state under international sanctions for sponsoring terrorism in the region.

While Eritrea has in the past been repeatedly accused of supporting Somalia’s Islamist militia Al Shabaab, a charge it strenuously denies, the current report catalogues Afewerki’s growing notoriety in the world of terrorism finance, and in particular the global web through which these funds are routed, with Kenya serving as a global transaction distribution hub.

The report details the country’s activities in funding the terror group, following the money trail from its citizens in the diaspora in Europe and North America, through Dubai and the Eritrean embassy in Nairobi, and into the hands of Al Shabaab, all the while concealed in convoluted and opaque informal financial networks.

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