Wow! Thank you for making this the blog’s best birthday week!

Posted: 11:12 pm EDT
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I went away for a bit and when I came back, the Go Diplopundit 2016 campaign was fully funded the morning of March 8.  I did not think it was going to happen today or if it was going to happen at all. But it did.  You folks are amazing closers!  You saved me from having to do my adult coloring books for the next 24 hours while the campaign is winding down!  Instead, I’m like the Bee Gees singing ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive … Hey, that’s only from 1977, okay?

Diplopundit’s first blogpost went up on March 11, 2008 in good, old Blogger. It was about a health care proposal that would have extended health coverage for the children of federal employees. That seems so long ago, doesn’t it?  4,809 blogposts later and 2,932,705 hits from the WordPress’ tally, the blog gets to live another day. This is the blog’s birthday week, so best birthday ever it turns out!

I wrote that perhaps something marvelous will happen. And something marvelous did happen today. My thanks go to over 450 readers who made this possible. The blog is still here because you’re here.  Thank you for making Diplopundit a part of your day and for making sure that we can go on for another year. My thanks also go to the friends of the blog who spent time and energy rallying, both in public and in private, the various parts of the community to come out and support our efforts.  Without all of you, this would have been an impossible task.

I hope to finish writing the thank you notes to everyone in the next couple of days.  For now, sharing below one of the most beautiful Beatles songs. This one is from 1965 and was called “a little piece of art work” by John Lennon. If you want to listen to the superb version from our favorite ginger, click here for Ed Sheeran’s.






Renunciation of U.S. Citizenship May Not Necessarily Keep the Tax Man Away

Posted: 4:08 am EDT
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Via MainSt:

Last year, 4,279 U.S. citizens ended their long-term U.S. residency, according to the Treasury Department. That’s up 25.3% from the 3,415 individuals who shed their U.S. citizenship in 2014 and just adds to the 10,693 total who dropped their citizenship between 2013 and 2015.
Passed in 2010 as a means of cracking down on tax dodgers, FATCA implemented rigid reporting rules for overseas banks and investment firms that hold the assets of U.S. citizens. It also imposes similarly strict rules on U.S. citizens who hold money in foreign accounts. Because the more underhanded elements of U.S. business made a habit of using accounts in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands and elsewhere to shield taxable income from the U.S. government, FATCA uses huge penalties to drop the hammer on those who won’t comply.

Read more below:

Renunciation of U.S. citizenship may not necessarily keep the Internal Revenue Service away. Last month, the Justice Department announced that a former U.S. citizen pleaded guilty to tax fraud related  to his Swiss financial account.  The DOJ announcement does not mention the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) but it says that in 2012, the individual who has resided in Switzerland since 2007, went to the U.S. Embassy in Bratislava, Slovakia, to renounce his U.S. citizenship and informed the U.S. Department of State that he had acquired the nationality of St. Kitts and Nevis by virtue of naturalization. Below is part of the DOJ announcement:

Former U.S. Citizen Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud Related to Swiss Financial Account

Used Hong Kong Entity and Foreign Accounts in Switzerland, Monaco and Singapore to Conceal Funds

A former U.S. citizen residing in Switzerland pleaded guilty today to one count of filing a false income tax return, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia.

“U.S. taxpayers have been given ample opportunity to come forward, disclose their secret foreign accounts, and come into compliance,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo.  “Those individuals and entities who rolled the dice in the hope of remaining anonymous are facing the consequences.  The Tax Division remains committed to investigating and prosecuting individual taxpayers with undeclared foreign financial accounts, as well as the financial institutions, bankers, financial advisors and other professionals who facilitate the concealment of income and assets offshore.  And as today’s guilty plea clearly indicates, the department’s reach is well beyond Switzerland.”

According to court documents, in 2006, Albert Cambata, 61, established Dragonflyer Ltd., a Hong Kong corporate entity, with the assistance of a Swiss banker and a Swiss attorney.  Days later, he opened a financial account at Swiss Bank 1 in the name of Dragonflyer.  Although he was not listed on the opening documents as a director or an authorized signatory, Cambata was identified on another bank document as the beneficial owner of the Dragonflyer account.  That same year, Cambata received $12 million from Hummingbird Holdings Ltd., a Belizean company.  The $12 million originated from a Panamanian aviation management company called Cambata Aviation S.A. and was deposited to the Dragonflyer bank account at Swiss Bank 1 in November 2006.

“IRS Criminal Investigation will continue to pursue those who do not pay the taxes they owe to the United States,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas Jankowski of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office.  “Today’s plea is a reminder that we are committed to following the money trail across the globe and will not be deterred by the use of sophisticated international financial transactions that hide the real ownership of income taxable by the United States.”

On his 2007 and 2008 federal income tax returns, Cambata failed to report interest income earned on his Swiss financial account in the amounts of $77,298 and $206,408, respectively.  In April 2008, Cambata caused the Swiss attorney to request that Swiss Bank 1 send five million Euros from the Swiss financial account to an account Cambata controlled at the Monaco branch of Swiss Bank 3.  In June 2008, Cambata closed his financial account with Swiss Bank 1 in the name of Dragonflyer and moved the funds to an account he controlled at the Singapore branch of Swiss Bank 2.

In 2012, Cambata, who has lived in Switzerland since 2007, went to the U.S. Embassy in Bratislava, Slovakia, to renounce his U.S. citizenship and informed the U.S. Department of State that he had acquired the nationality of St. Kitts and Nevis by virtue of naturalization.

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton of the Eastern District of Virginia set sentencing for April 15.  Cambata faces a statutory maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.  As part of his plea agreement, Cambata agreed to pay $84,849 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Additional information about the Tax Division and its enforcement efforts may be found on the division’s website.

FATCA was enacted in 2010 by Congress to target non-compliance by U.S. taxpayers using foreign accounts. FATCA requires foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to report to the IRS information about financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers, or by foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest. For access to the regulations and administrative guidance related to FATCA and to learn about taxpayer obligations visit the Internal Revenue Service FATCA Page.

Click here for the list of countries where the United States has an agreement under FATCA.


Photo of the Day: Shane Morris, Diplomatic Courier #InternationalWomensDay

Posted: 3:51 am EDT
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November 30, 2011:  Diplomatic Courier of the Year for 2011 Shane Morris, the first woman to receive such recognition, aboard a U.S. Air Force plane over Cairo, Egypt.

Screen Shot

Normal DS courier traffic in the Middle East was disrupted by civil unrest and terrorist activities in 2011.  When all air traffic to Yemen was cancelled due to fighting in the capital, Morris devised a replacement diplomatic courier mission for Embassy Sanaa aboard a military flight.  She was cited by the DS Bureau for having “pioneered classified deliveries throughout the Middle East and Persian Gulf from Frankfurt during a period of historic unrest.”  For this, Shane Morris was a finalist for the 2012 Service to America Medals awarded by the nonprofit group Partnership for Public Service.  She joined the Courier Service in 2007.  (Source:  U.S. Department of State)



Syria COH Coordination Team: Now With Native Arabic Speakers at US Embassy Kuwait

Posted: 3:07 am EDT
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We previously posted about the Syria Cessation of Hostilities (COH) Team reportedly run by the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) (see Syria Cessation of Hostilities (COH) Hotline Fail: Ceasefire Violations in the Land of Pepsi (Updated)).

On March 7, US Embassy Damascus/FB posted an updated announcement noting the addition of native Arabic speakers at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait and a third contact number to received calls with reports of incidents and possible violations.  The new announcement also says it encourage conveying reports via text options “as it promotes clarity and assist in our record keeping.”



VPOTUS Swears-In New U.S. Ambassador to Sweden Azita Raji

Posted: 2:53 am EDT
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Whoa! Amazing Day, Now the Hardest Part – The Last 48 Hours

Posted: 2:23 am EDT
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What an awesome surprise to have folks turn up and rally to get us to the finish line!  The Go Diplopundit campaign went from 76% to 92% practically overnight! Somebody just wrote “almost there, you can’t quit now!”  Thanks for the encouragement and we’re not quitting yet.  The campaign is about $31K from 387 pledges as of this writing. Are we going to make it? That’s up to you.

GFM told us that the time that the campaign will end is not necessarily exactly on the hour, as it is based off the time the campaign was originally launched. To play it safe, we were advised to plan on the campaign ending at 12:00 AM on March 10th. So the next 48 hours will probably be the hardest part.  But perhaps something marvelous will happen, hey?

Fundraising Update: Not Looking Great With 4 Days to Go — Sorry, There’s No Plan B 😢  14 Days to Go or Go Bust 😣 We could use your help to carry on for another year  😌  Real Life, the Way It Is – No Goggles and Plenty of Loose Ends  😉  Podium Cat Rolls Out Diplopundit’s GoFundMe 2016 Campaign

Commencing countdown, engines on.  Here’s David Bowie’s Space Oddity from 1969 via Whirled Peace with vintage anti-special effects Enjoy! For Commander Chris Hadfield’s fantastic version on board the International Space Station, click here.