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Ontario health-care workers’ pension has up to $430M at stake in Danish tax dispute | CBC News

One of Canada’s largest pension funds has been hauled into court in Denmark in a dispute about whether it improperly claimed hundreds of millions of dollars in tax rebates on Danish stock dividends, in a country already roiling from an alleged $2.5-billion stock dividend fraud.  Denmark says the case against the Healthcare of Ontario Pension…

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Ontario health-care workers’ pension has up to $430M at stake in Danish tax dispute | CBC News

One of Canada’s largest pension funds has been hauled into court in Denmark in a dispute about whether it improperly claimed hundreds of millions of dollars in tax rebates on Danish stock dividends, in a country already roiling from an alleged $2.5-billion stock dividend fraud.  Denmark says the case against the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, or HOOPP, involves no allegations of fraud, but instead turns on whether the pension fund truly owned billions of dollars of shares in Danish companies or just temporarily borrowed the stock and collected dividends on it. At stake is $180 million that was paid out to the pension fund in the form of tax rebates between 2011 and 2014, plus another $252 million in rebates HOOPP claimed since then that the Danish Tax Agency refused to reimburse. HOOPP — the eighth biggest pension fund in Canada and one of the Top 30 in the world, according to one ranking — says it has done nothing wrong and always “followed the laws” and the terms of the Denmark-Canada tax treaty. It would not comment further, citing the ongoing court case. The pension fund has total assets of more than $79 billion, according to its latest annual statement, and has 350,000 members working for public- and private-sector health employers in Ontario, including nurses and staff at dozens of hospitals and community clinics. Possible ‘exploitation of the tax system’ The case pitting Denmark against HOOPP hangs on one of the “miscellaneous rules” tucked into the closing paragraphs of the Canada-Denmark tax treaty. Under Danish law, ordinary foreign investors have to pay a withholding tax on any dividends they receive on Danish stocks amounting to 27 per cent. But under the Canada-Denmark tax treaty, pension funds are exempt provided they are “the beneficial owner of the shares on which the dividends are paid” and they own the shares “as an investment.” The Danish Tax Agency alleges HOOPP didn’t meet those criteria.  And while it may seem like a stale quibble over the arcana of tax law, the matter has generated media attention in Denmark.  It must be regarded as an exploitation of the tax system.- Tax law professor Jan Pedersen On Sunday, the Danish public broadcaster DR and the financial daily Borsen both published investigations into the case. They reported that HOOPP held some of the shares in question for mere days — just enough time to collect the dividends — and entered into “swap” contracts to return the stocks to their original owners without risk of losses or gains from changes in the stock price. The reports said it was part of an arrangement with a number of big global banks that set up the stock loans and shared in the profits of the transactions. CBC was unable to independently verify those findings. HOOPP has always denied any wrongdoing. In its statement in response to questions about its transactions, it said it “followed the laws and processes of the Denmark-Canada tax treaty, and should be entitled to recover the dividend tax refund. Because the dispute is before the tax tribunal and court, it would not be appropriate for us to make any further comment.” Jan Pedersen, a professor of tax law at Aarhus University in Denmark, told DR in a Danish-language interview commenting on its findings: “Since this is one big circular transaction, it is clear that the participants have tried to make it appear as if one had the formal ownership, and thus the claim to have the dividend tax refunded, even if another, from a strict legal point of view, is the real and beneficial owner. “It must be regarded as an exploitation of the tax system,” he said. A number of HOOPP members expressed surprise to CBC News that their pension fund is embroiled in the Danish litigation. HOOPP is widely respected in the pension world for generating strong returns while adhering to socially responsible principles such as not investing in tobacco or firearms companies.  Pension fund says it’s entitled to refunds While HOOPP wouldn’t answer questions about its dealings in Danish stocks, its financial statements hint at significant transactions in the Scandinavian country. They show the pension fund had a sizeable negative position — the equivalent of $287 million Cdn — in the Danish currency, the kroner, in 2017 that was almost entirely wound up by the following year. It was more exposure than in any other foreign currency except the U.S. dollar, the Japanese yen and the euro. Last year, when HOOPP’s name first emerged in Denmark in relation to the dividend tax matter, the pension fund said in a statement: “HOOPP has been an investor in the Danish capital markets for a number of years, purchasing Danish listed company shares through Danish licensed brokerages.  “As the purchaser of the Danish company shares it has bought, and having received the dividend net of the Danish tax, HOOPP, as a tax-exempt entity under the Canada-Denmark tax treaty, should be entitled to a refund of withholding tax on the dividends received on those shares… “HOOPP has been working co-operatively with the [Danish tax authority] and, while HOOPP maintains it has not done anything illegal, we understand why the Danish Tax Authority had denied HOOPP’s application for dividend tax refunds and had raised concerns about the refunds previously paid. We intend to resolve this issue in the best interests of our organization and our members.” Ontario Council of Hospital Unions president Michael Hurley says HOOPP always has an eye to its social obligations when it makes investment decisions, and will surely ‘repay whatever is owing’ if it loses its case in Denmark. (Matt Prokopchuk / CBC) Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, which represents thousands of workers who are HOOPP members, told CBC News that his union is aware of the Danish tax case but is confident that their pension fund would only have made the investments if it thought they were “credible and valid.”   “This is not a pension plan that’s making investments without thought to legality or its social obligations. If it has made a mistake, it will own up to that and repay whatever is owing,” Hurley said. Part of bigger scandal in Denmark Hurley pointed out that the court case pitting HOOPP against the Danish Tax Agency comes in the context of a move years ago by the Danish government to strip its tax regulators of many of their oversight powers and outsource some of their functions to the private sector.  Indeed, the HOOPP-Denmark litigation is a smaller and more innocuous part of a wider scandal involving the Danish Tax Agency. Following funding cuts, the agency farmed out some of the responsibility for processing dividend tax rebate applications in 2001 to three private banks as part of a broader effort to try to streamline and automate tax collection. The arrangement was scotched in 2015 after an internal audit found evidence of possible abuse, and a public inquiry continues to delve into the fallout from the bungled overhaul. The HOOPP case is a far cry from the most arresting allegations to emerge. In hundreds of other instances, the Danish Tax Agency is alleging civil but also some criminal fraud involving $2.5 billion in dividend tax rebates obtained by small-scale, mostly American pension funds. Those cases are part of a wider European scandal around a practice called “dividend stripping” that has cost national treasuries billions of euros. Court documents from one of those cases state that three of the small pension funds are from Canada. 
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Montreal, Quebec City to face new restrictions as Quebec tries to fend off 2nd wave of COVID-19 | CBC News

The Quebec government is expected to announce today that it is reducing the size of private gatherings and imposing new restrictions on bars and restaurants in the province’s two biggest cities, after an increase in COVID-19 infections. Radio-Canada has learned that Montreal, Quebec City and the Chaudière-Appalaches region, which is south of Quebec City, will…

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Montreal, Quebec City to face new restrictions as Quebec tries to fend off 2nd wave of COVID-19 | CBC News

The Quebec government is expected to announce today that it is reducing the size of private gatherings and imposing new restrictions on bars and restaurants in the province’s two biggest cities, after an increase in COVID-19 infections. Radio-Canada has learned that Montreal, Quebec City and the Chaudière-Appalaches region, which is south of Quebec City, will be placed on “moderate alert.”That is the orange, or second-highest, alert level under the province’s regional system for categorizing the danger posed by the novel coronavirus. Government officials told Radio-Canada they are still finalizing their decision, but barring any other major developments, the announcement is expected to be made Sunday. On Saturday, Quebec reported 427 new cases of COVID-19, the highest daily increase since May. Being placed in the orange category — up from yellow, designated as the “early warning” level — will come with tightened public-health restrictions. According to Radio-Canada, these restrictions are likely to include:  Reducing the maximum number of people allowed at a private gathering from 10 to six. Reducing the maximum number of people allowed per restaurant table from 10 to six. Requiring bars to stop serving alcohol earlier than midnight. A provincewide police operation was conducted this weekend to investigate whether bars are respecting public-health rules. Sources told Radio-Canada that further measures could be taken pending the results of the operation.  Gatherings in indoor and outdoor public places are also expected to be limited to 50, as opposed to 250 people. But government officials said there will be exceptions to that rule. For example, in theatres and cinemas where physical distancing is easily respected, the 250-person limit would remain, but wearing a mask would be mandatory at all times, even when seated. It is still unclear whether school activities will be affected by the decision to place the three regions in the orange level. Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé, public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda and Dr. Éric Litvak, medical advisor to public health, will give an update on the COVID-19 situation in Montreal at 5 p.m. ET Sunday.
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Nunavut now has 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 | CBC News

The latest: Nunavut reports first COVID-19 cases involving 2 mine workers. Quebec Premier François Legault tests negative for COVID-19. Ontario limits gathering sizes provincewide after reporting 407 new cases. Police disperse crowd at ‘impromptu car show’ in Hamilton, Ont. Two miners who were exposed to COVID-19 in their home jurisdictions before travelling are being monitored in Nunavut.Dr. Michael Patterson,…

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Nunavut now has 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 | CBC News

The latest: Nunavut reports first COVID-19 cases involving 2 mine workers. Quebec Premier François Legault tests negative for COVID-19. Ontario limits gathering sizes provincewide after reporting 407 new cases. Police disperse crowd at ‘impromptu car show’ in Hamilton, Ont. Two miners who were exposed to COVID-19 in their home jurisdictions before travelling are being monitored in Nunavut.Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, announced the cases at the Hope Bay gold mine in a news release Saturday issued by the territorial government. These are the first cases of the infection to be reported in Nunavut since the pandemic began, but since they didn’t originate in the territory they’ll instead be counted in other jurisdictions, said Cate Macleod, spokesperson for Premier Joe Savikataaq. “Both miners are asymptomatic and were immediately isolated and swabbed for the virus,” Patterson said. No residents from the territory itself work at the site, 125 kilometres southwest of Cambridge Bay, so it’s believed the risk of community spread remains low. In Quebec, Premier François Legault said he has tested negative for COVID-19. Legault and his wife were tested after meeting with Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole last Monday. O’Toole tested positive for the virus Friday. In a message posted Saturday to social media, Legault said he will remain in isolation until Sept. 28. This comes as Quebec reported its highest total of new cases since late May, as well as five additional deaths. The 427 new cases bring the provincial total to a national high of 67,080 confirmed infections, with 5,797 deaths. The Quebec government is expected to announce later Sunday that it is reducing the size of private gatherings in Montreal, Quebec City and the Chaudière-Appalaches region, south of Quebec City. All three regions will move into the “moderate” orange level in its alert system. That’s up from yellow, or “early warning.” The province is looking at reducing the maximum number of people allowed at a private gathering from 10 to six in these regions, Radio-Canada reports. In addition, the maximum number of people allowed per restaurant table would be lowered from 10 to six, and bars would have to stop serving alcohol earlier than midnight. WATCH | Ontario Premier Doug Ford limits social gatherings provincewide: Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the province is lowering the number of people allowed at social gatherings across Ontario. 1:25 Ontario saw its caseload jump by 407 on Saturday for a total of 46,484, with 2,865 deaths. Premier Doug Ford announced a tightening of restrictions on private social gatherings. People in every region of the province can only gather in groups of 10 people indoors, and 25 outdoors under orders continuing until Oct. 22.  Police in Hamilton, Ont., dispersed a crowd on Saturday night that they say was well over the new allowable limits for outdoor social gatherings. An example of the impact the #COVIDAlert app can have. Download it today for free to help break the cycle of #COVID19 infections. https://t.co/GQCfsuMG6A https://t.co/kf1gfTXquC—@CPHO_Canada Officers from nearby Peel and York regions, along with Ontario Provincial Police, joined efforts to shut down what police called an “impromptu car show” in a parking lot. People had brought about 500 cars to the parking lot at Cineplex Cinemas Ancaster for the event, said Staff Sgt. Richard Vanderboom of Hamilton Police Mountain Station. He declined to estimate how many people were there. As of 8:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 142,774 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 124,187 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,251. What’s happening around the rest of Canada In downtown Calgary, a restaurant owner says he’s near the point of having to hire security because staff are facing harassment from customers who do not want to wear face coverings. Stephen Deere, owner of Modern Steak, says the level of disrespect from patrons refusing to wear a mask has been escalating in recent days. “We’re in a democracy, and I believe you have the right to have your opinion and you have the right to protest,” Deere said. “But when you’re taking it out on the front-line workers and retail and hospitality, and they’re feeling threatened up to the point that violence could occur, it’s time to ring the alarm.” Calgary council voted earlier this month to keep masks mandatory in indoor public spaces, including restaurants, and on public transit, with the next update on masks coming in December. Physical distancing, extreme levels of fatigue are concerns for Alberta teachers, survey suggests Montreal advocates concerned new mask fines will target vulnerable communities Overcrowded buses worry commuters as COVID-19 cases rise, weather turns colder Ontario health-care worker returns home six months after testing positive for COVID-19 What’s happening around the world According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 30.8 million. More than 957,000 people have died, while 21 million have recovered. In London, England, hundreds of people gathered on Saturday to protest the latest COVID-19 restrictions. There were scuffles between demonstrators and police who moved in to disperse the crowd in Trafalgar Square. Protesters attend a rally Saturday at Trafalgar Square in London to protest against restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. (Hollie Adams/Getty Images) Many held placards calling for “freedom” from the restrictions, while some called the pandemic a hoax. The U.K. reported more than 4,400 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, it’s highest single-day spike since May. In Spain, people protested in Madrid on Sunday against the handling of the coronavirus pandemic by the city’s regional head, who has placed new restrictions on neighbourhoods with the highest contagion rates. Wearing face masks and trying to maintain distancing, protesters clapped in unison while shouting for regional President Isabel Diaz Ayuso to step down. Demonstrators gather in front of the Assembly of Madrid on Sunday to protest against the new restrictive measures announced by regional authorities. (Oscar del Pozo/AFP/Getty Images) The restrictions affect around 860,000 people who won’t be able to leave their neighbourhoods except for essential activities, including work or a medical appointment. Parks in the area are closed and shops and restaurants have to limit occupancy to 50 per cent. Spain is struggling to contain a second wave of the novel coronavirus, which has killed at least 30,400 people, according to the Spanish health ministry. Madrid’s rate of transmission is more than double the national average, which already leads European contagion charts.
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Dallas Stars top Tampa Bay Lightning for 1-0 lead in Stanley Cup Final

CLOSEAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideThe Dallas Stars continued their unexpected postseason run when they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night in the Edmonton, Alberta, bubble.Dallas’ Joel Hanley, Jamie Oleksiak and Joel Kiviranta scored in the first two periods and goalie Anton Khudobin (35 saves) helped the Stars survive the…

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Dallas Stars top Tampa Bay Lightning for 1-0 lead in Stanley Cup Final

CLOSEAutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideThe Dallas Stars continued their unexpected postseason run when they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night in the Edmonton, Alberta, bubble.Dallas’ Joel Hanley, Jamie Oleksiak and Joel Kiviranta scored in the first two periods and goalie Anton Khudobin (35 saves) helped the Stars survive the Lightning’s third-period surge as they took a 1-0 lead for the third consecutive series.That’s a turnaround for a team that had lost six in a row before the coronavirus pandemic forced a shutdown in March, then was outscored 10-5 in the round robin and lost the first game of the playoffs.Game 2 will be Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).The Stars were the rested team after last playing Monday night when they downed the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5. The Lightning had one day off after playing back-to-back overtime games against the New York Islanders.Dallas Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak (2) scores a goal past Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) during the second period. (Photo: Perry Nelson, USA TODAY Sports)A look at the game:Offense from defenseThe Stars’ defensemen chipped in again on offense, but not the usual suspects. Hanley, who had no goals in 46 regular-season games and seven postseason games, opened the scoring at 5:40 when he skated to the slot, took a pass from Roope Hintz and beat Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.“Obviously it’s something you dream about when you’re young and stuff. It’s just cool to be able to contribute with a goal like that,” Hanley told reporters.Oleksiak also jumped into the play and scored off his own rebound. It was his fifth of the postseason after a three-goal regular season.The Department of D̶e̶f̶e̶n̶s̶e̶ Offense 🚨#GoStarspic.twitter.com/FgLof03h1m— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) September 20, 2020The Stars have 15 goals from their defense in the playoffs. Miro Heiskanen, John Klingberg and Esa Lindell, the Stars’ top three defensemen, did pick up assists in Game 1.Defensive gemThe Stars held leading playoff scorer Nikita Kucherov without a shot until the third period. The Lightning’s Brayden Point had no shots.“They’re one of the best lines in hockey,” said Stars forward Blake Comeau. “They’re tough to contain. You just try to take away their space and their speed the best you can. To limit them to no chances is something that’s tough to do. They’re going to get their looks.”The Stars blocked 26 shots in the game, led by Oleksiak’s six.The Lightning’s goal was a fluke that went off the skate off Yanni Gourde and Hintz before going into the net. Khudobin shined in the third period as the Stars were outshot 22-2.HIS NAME IS ANTON KHUDOBIN 😲 pic.twitter.com/zWW2IWdlRR— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) September 20, 2020″We’re going to have to make it tougher on their goalie if we’re going to score,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper.Dental workIn addition to his goal and strong defensive game, Oleksiak lost a tooth on a second-period play.”I went into the corner to make a hit and kind of got counter-hit, a little bit of an elbow there,” he said. “It is what it is, part of the game, right?”UndisciplinedTampa Bay’s Pat Maroon was given a misconduct for shooting the puck into the Dallas bench at the end of the second period. That left the Lightning with 10 forwards for the first 10 minutes of the third period. Down 3-1 in Game 1, Pat Maroon shoots the puck into the Dallas bench at the end of the second period pic.twitter.com/EZmZJg5zNu— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) September 20, 2020The Lightning were aided in the third period by three Stars penalties.No excusesCooper didn’t like the way the Lightning started the game.”I don’t even know if we had to take a shower after the first two periods,” he said. But Lightning players didn’t blame the quick turnaround or fatigue for the slow start.”We obviously showed that we had our legs in the third,” defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “I think it was more of the mental aspect of us kind of seeing what Dallas brought to the table, and it took us a little bit of time to adjust to it.”Cooper, asked about a possible missed icing call on the Stars’ second goal, said, “It’s a moot point now. You can’t go back and change the call.”Cup in viewUsually the Stanley Cup doesn’t come to the arena until it’s ready to be presented. But the NHL had it visible at the rink for players to see. That was possible because there are no fans at Rogers Place. AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext SlideFind New & Used CarsNew CarsUsed CarsofPowered by Cars.com
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