Global watchdog proposes tax overhaul for Big Tech

LONDON (AP) — A global economic watchdog on Monday proposed an overhaul of international tax rules to make sure big tech companies pay their dues, and warned that failure to adopt it would make the economic recovery from COVID-19 harder.

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which advises the world’s top economies, said its global tax overhaul framework will be presented to Group of 20 finance ministers meeting this week and could be implemented by mid-2021 if an agreement is reached. The group estimated the measures could raise an extra $100 billion in corporate tax revenues annually.

The OECD has been trying to find a compromise among more than 135 countries on digital taxes, spurred by longstanding demands from France and other European Union nations for U.S. digital giants like Amazon and Google to pay their fair share. The U.S., however, has resisted.

France’s plan for its own

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Watchdog group tallies $250 million in coronavirus-aid fraud with money spent on sports cars, strip clubs, gambling and crypto bets

The U.S. Department of Justice has brought charges against at least 82 individuals, in cases where $250 million in fraudulent loans were sought in the six months since the Small Business Administration began disbursing loans under the Trump Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, according to a tally by the Project on Government Oversight released Thursday.

“The alleged fraudsters used the money to buy Lamborghini sports cars, go to strip clubs, take gambling trips to Las Vegas, invest money in a cryptocurrency account, make risky stock market bets, purchase a 40-foot yacht and a $1 million row house in Washington, DC, and other expenses not allowed by law,” according to the report.

In one case, a Florida man allegedly used a $4 million loan in part to purchase a $318,000 Lamborghini Huracán EVO. In another case, former professional football player Joshua Bellamy allegedly received a $1.2 million loan, part of which he

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Average UK home and car insurance costs to fall under watchdog plans

A watchdog will tell car insurance firms not to charge existing customers more to renew than they charge new customers. Photo: PA
A watchdog will tell car insurance firms not to charge existing customers more to renew than they charge new customers. Photo: PA

Home and car insurance firms are set to be banned from charging existing customers more than new ones, under a watchdog’s “radical” plans that could save customers £370m ($473m) a year.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced a proposed crackdown on “harmful pricing practices” on Tuesday, as it unveiled a consultation on plans to shake up the home and car insurance industries.

Around 6 million customers pay “high or very high” prices for such insurance, according to the FCA. They would save a total of £1.2bn a year if they paid the average cost for customers of the same risk level.

“The FCA is proposing that when a customer renews their home or motor insurance policy, they pay no more than they would if they were new to

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Florida’s lack of transparency about election security funds aided alleged coverup, watchdog says

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A public corruption scandal in a rural Florida elections office just an hour west of the state capital reveals how easily federal dollars meant for election security can be diverted to cover up malfeasance, a government watchdog says.

The former elections supervisor in the panhandle’s Liberty County is charged with using election security funds to hide $42,000 in personal spending sprees – a potential accountability problem in any small office where one person holds the purse strings and nobody else is watching, observers said. The case’s first hearing is Monday.

The lack of oversight was exacerbated by a state-mandated nondisclosure agreement supervisors had to sign to get the election security money in the first place, they said. 

“Especially when funds are meant to be used for a certain purpose, there needs to be transparency to let the public know the funds were used for the purpose given,”

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UK finance watchdog flags concerns about repeat lending, affordable credit

By Sinead Cruise

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s financial watchdog is stepping up its vigilance of credit providers who encourage customers to take on more loans than they can afford, putting them at risk of a personal debt spiral that could ramp up their financial difficulties.

In a review of the high cost credit market published on Thursday, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it was worried about firms’ conduct, including poor practice in use of online accounts, apps and marketing messages that emphasised ease, convenience and benefits of taking on more credit.

The study, which was completed prior to the coronavirus pandemic, also showed that nearly half of consumers regretted borrowing more money while some had missed payments and were forced to prioritise repayment of debt over other expenses.

“We have significant concerns that repeat borrowing could be a strong indicator of levels of debt that are harmful to the

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City firms still exploiting vulnerable customers, watchdog finds

The FCA logo
The FCA logo

Banks, insurers and other financial firms are not doing enough to support vulnerable customers, a report by the City watchdog has warned.

The Financial Conduct Authority said that some customers had been exploited for financial gain by unscrupulous firms. 

Its review found that 24 million people have displayed at least one characteristic of vulnerability in the last year, and that this number had increased by a further 1.5 million since the start of the coronavirus crisis. 

Vulnerability can be caused by health issues – both mental and physical – and life events such as bereavement. Others may be vulnerable because they have a lesser understanding of financial issues or have less ability to deal with financial problems. 

However, the report found multiple cases where firms had exploited or mis-sold customers who had confided that they were vulnerable. One customer was subject to pressure selling by an insurance

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Google and Facebook too powerful, says watchdog

The UK needs tougher rules to curb the dominance of Google and Facebook, including powers to break them up, the Competition and Markets Authority has said.

It is concerned that the firms’ dominance in digital advertising raises barriers for new competitors.

This may be pushing up prices for consumers, the CMA said.

The tech giants said they faced strong competition and that they would work with regulators on their concerns.

The CMA, which has been investigating their power in advertising for a year, said on Wednesday that it was “concerned that they have developed such unassailable market positions that rivals can no longer compete on equal terms”.

Google has more than 90% of the £7.3bn search advertising market in the UK, it said.

Facebook takes more than half of the £5.5bn UK online display advertising market.

The CMA said the services provided by Google and Facebook “are highly valued by

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