China Graft, Madoff Aides, Luxembourg Rulings: Compliance

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China set up a website to collect tips about officials who have fled with ill-gotten gains, as leaders press ahead with a campaign that’s resulted in the arrests of hundreds of alleged economic fugitives so far.

The Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, encouraged whistle-blowers at home and abroad to report on corrupt cadres and officials, according to a statement on its website. Tips will be handled in a timely way and whistle-blowers’ rights will be protected, the agency said.

The tip line is the latest element of a campaign dubbed Operation Fox Hunt 2014 to repatriate money that’s been wrongly stashed overseas. China has pressed countries including the U.S. and Canada to turn over suspects even in the absence of extradition treaties.

In October, the government called on fugitives’ relatives and friends to persuade them to surrender. China’s Fox Hunt campaign, which began in July, has led to the detention of 428 alleged economic fugitives from 60 countries and regions so far.

Courts

Madoff Aide Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Fraud Help

Bernard Madoff’s former teenage secretary, who went on to run the investment-advisory business at the center of a $17.5 billion fraud, was sentenced to six years behind bars by a New York judge, less than half what prosecutors sought and four years shy of what her own lawyer suggested.

Annette Bongiorno, 66, still lived with her parents when she joined the con man’s firm in 1968 at the age of 19. Jurors who convicted her and four ex-colleagues in March for their roles in the biggest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history rejected her claim that she was blind to wrongdoing as she rose to power in the company.

The sentence balances Bongiorno’s integral role in the fraud with her advanced age, health problems and the four years of home confinement she has already served, U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain said yesterday. Swain on Dec. 8 sentenced Daniel Bonventre, who ran Madoff’s broker-dealer unit for almost four decades, to 10 years in prison.

Bongiorno was ordered yesterday to forfeit $155 billion, a sum the judge said she’s jointly liable for with Madoff, Madoff’s brother Peter, as well as her co-defendants in the scheme and others who pleaded guilty.

Jerome O’Hara, a former computer programmer convicted in March of conspiring to aid Bernard Madoff’s $17.5 billion Ponzi scheme, also was sentenced yesterday. Swain imposed a sentence of 2 1/2 years for his role in the fraud.

O’Hara, 51, was accused of helping automate the fraud, allowing the scam to expand rapidly in the 1990s.

Swain said O’Hara was a knowing participant in the fraud by at least 2006, when he confronted Madoff in the con man’s office about the fraudulent computer programs.

The sentence is “serious and significant,” while taking into account his limited role in the fraud and the shorter amount of time he was a knowing participant, Swain said.

The shorter sentence will also save his wife and children from undue hardship and allow O’Hara to begin working again sooner to help repay victims, according to the judge.

The other defendants are Joann Crupi, 54, who managed large accounts, and computer programmer George Perez, 48.

Madoff pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 150 years in prison. Peter Madoff, who also worked for the company, pleaded guilty and is serving a 10-year term.

The case is U.S. v. O’Hara, 10-cr-00228, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Interviews/Commentary

Luxembourg Says Tax Rulings Are Not Secret, Never Have Been

Tax rulings “issued by the Luxembourg tax authorities are not, and have never been, secret,” the nation’s finance ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

“In fact, Luxembourg, spontaneously and upon request, exchanges information on rulings with other countries, as foreseen by non-double taxation treaties as well as by directives and agreements concerning administrative cooperation and mutual assistance in tax matters,” the finance ministry said.

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said last week that the government is on alert for a new wave of tax revelations that is expected to hit the country this week. Renewed questions were directed at Finance Minister Pierre Gramegna last week from a group of investigative reporters, indicating more documents relating to tax deals may be revealed, Bettel told journalists in Luxembourg Dec. 5.

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