Sunday, February 27, 2011

US widens scope of tax evasion investigations to Middle Eastern and Asian banks

Today's Financial Times reports that the US probe into tax evasion has widened to include Middle Eastern and Asian banks:
This effort of course needs to be expanded worldwide.

However, the real question is:
when will the US investigate ITSELF as a channel for evading taxes for nationals/ residents of other countries?

If it does so, it may be surprised to see how much tax evasion in other countries takes place through the USA.

Sadly, the USA (like many other countries) continues to take a narrowly national approach, which I would characterise as: "if US citizens try to evade US taxes, we are going to get them - and other countries better help us; but if your citizens evade your taxes, you can go hang".

In a globalised financial world, tax evasion is a global problem. And that needs a global approach, global rules and global co-operation. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Companies delivering values"

That's the English transliteration of the German title of the presentation I was asked to give in Germany, earlier this week.

Here is the outline of what I said:

We are assured by various "authorities" that the crisis is past, but that only indicates how unreliable most such "authorities" are now

Most economic tools and approaches have become unreliable. This is demonstrated by the fact that Germany had such an unexpectedly high rate of growth last year - unexpected by ANY of the "authorities"! We are in a volatile world where all the traditional instruments we have are useless - we can be surprised positively and we can be surprised negatively.

We should expect continued and increasing volatility in the global economy (and of course in national economies), leading to larger crises, if the underlying problems are not sorted out (and they are not being sorted out).

The only satisfactory solution is to have a set of minimum global rules that are sensible, and light.

It would be easy to have an inappropriate set of global rules, or rules that are excessively burdensome - and both those dangers need to be recognised and fought against.

Meanwhile, we need to recognise too that capitalism was damaged by its so-called friends. The free market was damaged by free marketers who wanted so much freedom that they wanted no rules at all!

And we all know what happens when there are no rules - it becomes like what Americans call the Wild West and what we Indians call a jungle - a place without rules is a place without the rule of law - and that is bound to be a place where the fastest or strongest win, at the cost of those who seek to do business fairly, honestly and in accordance with universally acknowledged values.

Of course there are companies, such as Abus and Loh and Obi, which are represented here, who at least have a reputation for trying to do what is right. But they are exceptions - or at least they were sufficiently out of the centre that whatever influence they had counted for nothing in terms of opposing the conditions that led to the crisis.

The fact is that we are in the middle of a global civil war today where it is not enough to simply have some values, it is necesaary first to be aware that we are in the middle of a war, and then to consider carefully the nature and resources of the opposition, as well as one's own resouces, allies and cobelligerents in order to develop and follow the most effective strategy possible.

Let me put it this way.

The first level is to ensure that one is following values oneself as an individual. That is only possible if one is self-reflective and self-critical. I find that following Jesus the Lord has made that possible for me, because I do not need to be either afraid of such self-reflection or surprised/ upset at the results - I can ask for forgiveness, seek to ensure restitution, and start again on the difficult (because delicate) journey to be a person of values.

The second level is to try to ensure that values are embedded in the conduct of a company one owns or for which one works or with which one is assocated - as Abus and Obi and Loh try to do.

The third level is to try to ensure that values are embedded and followed in the companies associated with the company in the second level (above). Again, companies such as Abus and Loh have tried to do so, for example with supplier companies and subsidiaries and joint-venture partners in China. Delivering values is easier in Germany than in China. And we sometimes forget that it was equally difficult in Germany till the 16th century when the Reformation transformed society in ways that make it even today easier to deliver values here versus in all non-Reformed parts of the world, including Eastern and Southern Europe.

But of course even the third level (above) is simply the start of the real battle, because while that sort of voluntary action is to be commended, it entails both a cost and a benefit to individual businesses (the cost of the extra mangaerial effort and any financial consequenes; and the moral and reputational benefit of being known as an ethical business with the implications of that for customer preference and loyalty).

The fourth and more essential level is therefore for companies to seek, through direct lobbying as well as through industry associations (and where legally permissible) through political processes, to influence national rules, regulations and legislation in the right direction, so that ALL companies in that national area are required to comply at least at some minimal level with humane values.

So why is the fourth level (above) inadequate? Because there is every incentive for multinational or international companies to exploit any discrepancies between the legal systems of different countries, and to focus their activities on that national system which imposes the lesser (or the least) requirements for compliance with universal values. Companies can even move their entire headquarters out of countries which are perceived to work for greater compliance with universal human values. That is why a merely national or regional approach (while admirable and somewhat useful) is finally inadequate. That is why we need global rules.

May I conclude by saying that it is fatally easy for us gathered here for this conference to start with thinking at the level of ourselves as individuals or as individual companies - and to stop there. We need to recognise that the really important battles are taking place at the national and global levels.

So it is important for us to follow those and to addresss those, however naturally disinclined we are to do so, if we are to really deliver on values. May I remind you that even the Bible, the basic text of your civilisation, does not focus only on the individual. It starts with God creating the universe in such a way as to reflect his glory and character, but when individuals want to run their lives in a way that violates God's design, that wrecks God's system, so that God then has to search for individuals who WILL be willing to live in His way out of love for Him - but even those individuals are not meant to live merely in a cosy love relationship with Him, but to live in that relationship for the purpose of being a blessing to the world - that is, of changing the world positively.

That is why, when Abraham decides to follow God, it results in the eventual deliverance of his descendants from Egypt and their being given a new orientation and new policies and structures in economics and politics - deepened of course by Jesus the Lord.

It is in following those economic and political principles even today that policies and structures can be created which bring light and blessing to the world. There are in fact no values apart from those social, economic and political principles.

To the extent that you and I study them, understand them, and apply them individually and corporately, we will become real deliverers of vlaues - that is, those who contribute to creating the right global laws, regulations, policies and structures.

Thank you. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, February 14, 2011

One simple action for reducing corruption, exposing human rights abuses and promoting democratic values

There are not many broadcasting organisations left that are dedicated to such widely accepted human values.

One of the most important of such organisations, the BBC World Service, is now threatened with deep cuts being imposed by the UK government, as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

If you would like to help protect the BBC World Service, please write, email or fax the British Embassy in your country and/or the office of the BBC. If you are a British citizen, please write to your MP, or directly to the Prime Minister.

In the material below, please note that the word "chapel" refers to a branch of a trade union, and the term goes back to the time when the only form of organisation for mutual help among workers were groups of follwers of Jesus the Lord who dissented from the political, economic and religious establishment. They were Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and other groups from what is called the Radical Reformation, as against the Magisterial Reformation which allied itself with State power (e.g. Lutherans and Calvinists) and usually opposed these "chapels".

The cuts include a quarter of all staff and five foreign language service closures. The consequence will be a 30 million drop in weekly global audience from 180 million to 150 million.

David Campanale is the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Father of Chapel in the international television service BBC World News and a director of the Christian aid agency, Tearfund. He comments:

"At its best the World Service can challenge corruption, expose human rights abuses and promote democratic values. By cutting the service the government will cut British influence in the rest of the world and also damage objective quality international news. Some of these services are in regions of great vulnerability because of suppression of religious liberty and the abuse of human rights. The closure of language services in Azeri, Mandarin for China, Russian, Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese and Ukrainian are all causes of concern."

The BBC's trade unions believe that impartial observers across the globe will be mystified by the government’s strategy of talking about promoting democratic values and international human rights while inflicting cuts on the BBC World Service and BBC Monitoring (Foreign Secretary William Hague announced he is allocating £58.5 million of Foreign Office spending in the coming year ‘for the support of democratic values, human rights and British diplomatic influence overseas’).

Brian Dale is a rep in one of the BBC's trade union branches covering technical staff at Television Centre and is part of the Community Church, Surbiton. He said that the ability of the Mubarak regime to close internet and mobile phone services during the Egyptian uprising made ridiculous the BBC's justification that short and medium wave broadcasts were no longer needed as audiences were "migrating to other platforms". He said:

"By cutting services, the BBC will lose the ability to control broadcasting in times of emergencies. The host government will have the ability to shut down the World Service at times when it is most needed - whether by switching off the power, shutting down the internet, putting journalists in jail or just locking the doors. Egypt is the latest example where events show the need for a continued shortwave presence."

The cuts proposed include 16 per cent of £267m government grant over the next five years, during which time the international aid budget will increase by 37 per cent to over £11bn. Mike Workman is Father of Chapel of the BBC World Service who set up Facebook’s SOS BBC World Service page. The site has been inundated with baffled listeners from all over the world who can’t understand why Britain doesn’t value the BBC World Service as one of its most important exports. An Anglican who has organised staff protests at Bush House in the Strand, Mike commented:

"The BBC World Service has a unique role in international relations and could be saved by providing a fraction of the aid budget. Nothing distributed abroad by Britain can compare with the effect of the World Service in supporting democratic values and human rights. That pride in such an excellent service deserves the support of Foreign Secretary William Hague and his government. The Foreign Office should allocate support for democracy overseas by finding the £19 million needed this year to protect the BBC World Service output.”


For more information: David Campanale 07873 625396


The BBC World Service cuts proposed include:
• Five language services totally closed (Albanian, Macedonian, Serbian, English for Caribbean, Portuguese for Africa)
• Radio programming ending in seven languages: (Azeri, Mandarin for China, Russian, Spanish for Cuba, Turkish, Vietnamese and Ukrainian)
• Immediate end of short wave radio (March 2011) in Hindi, Indonesian, Kyrgyz, Nepali, Swahili and the Great Lakes Service for Rwanda and Burundi.
• Immediate end to short and medium wave in English (March 2011) to Russia and former FSU
•The average age of a World Service audience member is 29 years old.

- The weekly reach of the World Service broken down into the five language services
that are proposed for closure:
o Albanian 510,000
o Macedonian 160,000
o Caribbean 660,000
o Portuguese 1,498,000

- The audience figures for the seven languages radio programme which are scheduled to end:
o Russian radio 1,241,000
o Chinese radio 595,000
o Turkish radio 450,000
o Azeri 150,000
o Vietnamese 100,000
o Ukrainian 910,000
o Spanish 9,000

ENDS Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Facebook and Renewable Energy

A Climate Campaigner for Greenpeace India writes to me as follows, and I pass it on in the hope that at least one or two of my readers who have not yet asked Zuckerberg to support renewable energy will do so:

Dear Prabhu,

Facebook, one of the biggest social networks, has over 500 million users. If it were a country it would be the 3rd most populous in the world. Unfortunately, this huge network is choosing dirty energy to power itself.

Facebook plans to start a new data center in Oregon, USA, which will be powered by coal. The same coal which threatens forests, wildlife and the entire environment.

People from across the world have been asking Facebook to go green by using renewable energy to power the network.

Recently they have started to move, but nowhere near enough. To encourage them to do so, we have now given Facebook a deadline - Earth Day, April 22, 2011.

Can you ask Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to pledge to go coal free before Earth Day? If so, please click

Facebook is big and getting it to power itself from renewable energy will help make a big difference. It will be difficult for Mark Zuckerberg to ignore a demand made by its current and potential users. People from all over the world asking him to go green will help put pressure on him to act.

Coal is the largest single source of carbon dioxide, leading to runaway climate change. All this is happening when we have viable renewable energy options which are clean and green.

With the kind of reach and power Facebook enjoys, it can easily set a green example for the rest of the world and the IT sector to follow. Remind Facebook to keep its deadline.

Ask Mark Zuckerberg to take the pledge.

Thanks a billion!" Sphere: Related Content

Which companies did what and how much for investors

Pablo Fernandez, Javier Aguirreamalloa and Luis Corres Avendaño have just published a paper titled “Shareholder Value Creators in the S&P 500: 1991-2010”.

The S&P500 is an index of 500 of the largest US publicly-traded companies (i.e. their shares can be bought and sold by anyone).

The paper provides their definition of "shareholder value", and shows that, in the period 1991-2010, the S&P 500 destroyed value for shareholders to the tune of $4.5 trillion. In other words, on average, if you had invested in an index of these companies, you would have lost at least some of the real value of your money.

You might be encouraged by the fact that, between 1991 and1999, the S&P500 did create value ($5.1 trillion), but it went on, between 2000-2010, to destroy value again, to the tune of $9.6 trillion.

All that of course is for the S&P500 as a whole.

In examining the record of individual companies in that index, they calculate that, in the 18 years between 1993 and 2010, the best shareholder value creators were Apple ($212bn), Exxon ($86bn), IBM (78bn), Altria (70) and Chevron (67).

By contrast, the companies tha destroyed shareholder value most in that period were American International Group ($-217), Pfizer (-188), General Electric (-183), Bank of America (-170), Citigroup (-169) and Time Warner (-130).

Forty one per cent of the companies which were included in the S&P 500 in 2004 or in 2010 created value in 1993-2010 for their shareholders, while 59% destroyed value. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Prabhu's Personal Annual Report for 2010

As this is now ready, here it is for your interest.

However, kindly do NOT come back to me for copies of material: if material is in the public domain, it will be accessible either from the websites indicated or by Googling it. If the material is not for publication yet, then please have patience till it is: usually, everything interesting and useful will find its way on to my personal website(though please note this is under construction)

Personal Annual Report for 2010: Main Activities:

(A brief report and/or related material is available on most of these, at the web-site for Wolfsberg)

- "Indian Companies Going Global: Challenges and Opportunities for Indian and European Companies" with Prof. Dr. Winfried Ruigrok and Dr. des. Prasad Oswal, India Centre, University of St. Gallen, and with Collin Timms, Chairman, Guardian Bank, Bangalore, India, held at Wolfsberg, January 25

- "Russia's Foreign Policy Priorities and Challenges: Lessons for Europe", with Dr. Vladimir Orlov, President of PIR Center, Moscow, Russia, held at Wolfsberg, April 22

- "The East Rises as the West Declines?: A Business View", with The Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick CBE, The House of Lords, England, held at Wolfsberg, May 11

- "President Obama and the "New" USA: An American Business Perspective", with Mr. Robert S. Milligan, Chairman of the Board of Directors, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington D.C., held at Wolfsberg, September 24

- "Economy and Government in a Time of Crisis: The Chinese View", with Professor Yunlong E, of Beijing University (also, Senior Consultant of China Xinxing Corporation), Beijing, China, held at Wolfsberg, September 29

- "Revolutionary Times in Technology: Assessing Latest Investment Risks, Enhancing Returns, Improving Global Policies", with Dr. Nigel M. de S. Cameron, President, Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies, Washington D.C., USA, October 6

- "Business and Climate Change: The Current Science and the Implications for Business" with Prof. Sir David King, Senior Scientific Advisor to UBS and Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, held at Wolfsberg, November 9

- "Innovation and IT leading economic growth", with Mr Azim Premji, Chairman, Wipro Technologies, Bangalore, held at the Widder Hotel Zürich, January 25, 2011


- Collin Timms, Chairman, Guardian Bank, Bangalore, India

- Sudeep Sen, Indian poet, Delhi, India (also Editor of Atlas magazine, Delhi, India)

- The Lord Michael Hastings, The House of Lords, London, UK

- Mr Satish Kumar, Schumacher College/ Resurgence Magazine, UK

- Professor Yunglong E, Beijing University, China

- Dr C.K.Thong, President and CEO, LDI, China

- Dr. Nigel M. de S. Cameron, President, Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies, Washington D.C., USA


- Monthly articles under the nom de plume "Dadu" in Forward Press Magazine, Delhi, India

- Article: "How India treats Diaspora Youth", The International Indian magazine (Dubai), p58-59, January

- Article: "Verghese Kurien: Why do Indians not honour each other?", The International Indian magazine (Dubai), pp42-43, March

- Article: "Agri-Tourism and Slum-Tourism",?", The International Indian magazine (Dubai), p p50-51, May

- Article: "Self-Governance: Swiss vs Indian", The International Indian magazine (Dubai), pp72-73, July

- Article: "Education and Indian Chutzpah", The International Indian magazine (Dubai), pp72-73, September

- Article: "The Disadvantages of Liberalisation", The International Indian magazine (Dubai), pp44-45, November

- Scores of posts at:; Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.; and: Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.)


- Lecture: "The Current Situation in Europe", Coronado, San Diego, California, USA, February 20

- Lecture: "Whatever Happened to America?", University Club, Pasadena, California, USA, February 23

- Lecture: "The Business Consequences of Globalisation and Homogeny for SMEs", at the Third Annual Academic Conference organised by LCC International University on the theme of "Responses to Cultural Homogeny: Engagement, Resistance or Passivity", Klaipeda, Lithuania, April 9-10

- Lecture: "The Global Economic Crisis: A Moral and Ethical Perspective", L'Abri, Switzerland, April 17

- Lecture: "The Global Economic Crisis: Is it Past? And what of the Future?", Expat Media, Dubai, UAE, May 5

- Lectures: "Towards a Sophisticated Understanding of Strategy and Organisation Development", Doctoral Seminar, Bangalore, India, June 21 to 25

- Lecture: "The Impact of Law and Economics in Reconciliation & Social Transformation", Geneva Institute of Leadership and Public Policy, Geneva, Switzerland, June 30

- Lecture: "The Global Economic and Financial System: A Sustainability Perspective", YES Seminar, Braunwald, Switzerland, July 4

- Lecture: "Cultural Leadership in a Global Context", Sampad, Birmingham, U.K., July 22

- Lecture: "Global Financial Services: Changing Shape?", UBS Investment Banking Executive Directors' Experienced Talent Programme, London, July 23

- Lecture: "Flourishing Morally in a Culture of Lies", Berlin Leadership Forum (Berliner Führüngskräfte Tag), Berlin, Germany, September 18

- Lecture: "The Changing Landscape of Business", San Antonio, USA, October 14

- Lecture: "Business in the Global Era", Cape Town, South Africa, October 18

- Lecture: "Key Issues for South Africa in a Globalising World ", Durban, South Africa, October 29

- Lecture: "The Five Major Approaches to Life and Business", Durban, South Africa, October 30


- Moderated meetings of The Trinity Forum in Goa, London and Zurich

- Moderator, The Zermatt Summit, Zermatt, Switzerland, May 3 to 6

- Moderator, Liberty Fund Colloqium, Udaipur, India, May 6 to 9

- Moderator, The Stein-Am-Rhein Symposium (stars), September 25-28


- Distinguished Professor of Global Business, Management and Public Policy, William Carey University, Meghalaya, India

- Lectures at various conferences and institutions (see above)

- Cited in:

- Member, International Advisory Panel, Institute for International Business Relations, Germany

- Member, Executive Board, IFB Institute of Management, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

- Member, Advisory Board, Geneva Institute of Leadership and Public Policy, Switzerland

- Member, Organising Committee, Stein-Am-Rhein Symposium (stars), Switzerland


- Visit to China (Chongqing, Shanghai, Beijing and Beidaihe), with a Delegation from the Stein-Am-Rhein Foundation (stars Foundation), Switzerland, January 9 to 18

- Dinner with a Chinese Delegation, Stein-Am-Rhein, May 20

- Event with Peter Voser, Chief Executive of Shell, Wolfsberg, June 10

- Opening of the Exhibition, "Where Three Dreams Cross" (photographs on India, Pakistan and Bangladesh), Fotomuseum, Winterthur, Switzerland, June 11

- "Art of Leadership" (UBS Experienced Talent Program), Wolfsberg, 16 July

- Indian Independence Day Annual Celebration, Indian Embassy, Berne, Switzerland, August 15

- The Performance Theatre, Venice, Italy, September 17 -18


- Member, Global Advisory Council, Development Alternatives, New Delhi, India

- Member, The Gerson Lerrman Group's Financial & Business Services Council

- Member, Academic Council, William Carey University , Shillong, India (up to 2012)

ENDS Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Guptara Garamagaram

That is the title for my regular column in THE INTERNATIONAL INDIAN magazine, published every two months from Dubai.

The latest issue (December 2010/ January 2011) carries my article, on pages 46 & 47, on the topic "The Disadvantages of Liberalisation".

The flaws of marketisation is not what you read about every day, so you might want to find out: Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The best comment on business conferences (specifically WEF/ Davos) that I have seen in a long time

Please go to: Sphere: Related Content

Why are central banks continuing to put so much money into the economy in spite of so much inflation?

In an interesting article, Vargas Llosa, Senior Fellow of the USA's Independent Institute, writes:

"What governments... are doing is attempting to whittle down their huge debts by debasing their currencies while continuing to borrow scandalous amounts of money. They are also hypocritically using the devaluation of their currencies brought about by quantitative easing to compete internationally--while accusing others, with good reason, of manipulating their own money to keep up their export machines."

For the full article: Sphere: Related Content

British companies WANT to bribe!

In fact, they want so desperately to bribe that they have put the British government under intense pressure. As a result, the government has delayed implementing the Bribery Act. The delay has infuriated the OECD, which has now threatened to blacklist British companies!

What a reversal from the moral age introduced by the work of William Wilberforce!

For the full story:

Though we can thank God there are still lots of businesses committed to ethics, it appears that their number is declining, and we await another Wilberforce to so change the global cultural climate that business becomes againn indisputably responsible and moral. Sphere: Related Content