Thor Halvorssen grew up in the lap of luxury. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, his father was a high-ranking minister in the government. It wasn’t uncommon for his cousins to jet off to Paris for a weekend of bar-hopping and meeting girls in fancy nightclubs.
But Thor would never have been content with a life like that. Instead, he’s doing something truly meaningful. He runs a not-for-profit Human Rights organization, called, aptly enough, The Human Rights Foundation. The Organization employs 12 people and, together, they organize a yearly industry expo, which many bill as the Davos of the Human Rights world.
This yearly expo takes place in Oslo, Norway and is called The Human Rights Forum. Its aim is to connect Human Rights campaigners from third world countries with the rich and powerful of the philanthropic world—people who can give much-needed funds to their causes and place the right phone calls to put the causes on the map.
When Thor isn’t organizing the forum, he’s traveling the world, trying to help activists in the field. He was once even briefly apprehended in authoritarian Vietnam. He was visiting a Human Rights activist in the communist country, who was under house arrest. Halvorssen did an interview with him and, even though he was placed under arrest, surreptitiously smuggled out a copy of the interview to broadcast to the world.
He also counts himself a vehement critic of the North Korean regime. North Korea, known as the Hermit Kingdom, has been ruled for seven decades by the Kim family. It’s one of the poorest countries in the world, having suffered multiple famines as the Kim family worked to drive forward (an ultimately successful) nuclear program.
The North Korean populace is sealed off from the rest of the world. Halvorssen works to change that. He frequents South Korean talk shows, imploring people to be more active in the pursuit of justice for the North Korean people. He also does what he can to deliver information from the outside world to North Korea. He and his team even float western media into North Korea using balloons.
In the year 2010, the United States Congress looked to help regulate the financial industry by introducing the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. This new legislation proved to be the most significant regulatory policy since the Great Depression. One of the most significant aspects of the Dodd Frank Act is the establishment of a whistleblower program. With this program, a number of people will get employment protection and financial incentives to report any unethical activity that takes place in the finance industry. As part of this program, a number of individuals can seek these incentives through legal representation from a SEC whistleblower attorney.
Once the Dodd Frank Act was passed, the law firm Labaton Sucharow became the most prominent law firm to specialize in providing representation for anyone looking to report wrongdoing in the finance industry. As part of the firm, individuals looking to report violations of securities laws will be able to get representation from a SEC whistleblower lawyer. Clients will be able to get excellent representation due to the firm’s use of investigators, financial analysts and forensic accountants. With the combination of these professionals, Labaton Sucharow has proven to get favorable legal results for clients who are looking to report unscrupulous activity in the finance industry.
When an individual has witnessed or become aware of wrongdoing being committed in the financial securities industry, they will have the opportunity to meet with one of the lawyers at Labaton Sucharow. The client and the firm will work towards reporting unethical activity to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Those who report wrongdoing and become whistleblowers will have the opportunity to seek and get financial compensation. In order to report securities law violations and get compensation, whistleblowers will need to go through a legal process known as litigation. During this process, they will work with an attorney to present evidence to a court that proves that violations were committed.
In a typical case, the whistleblower client will first inform an attorney at Labaton Sucharow about wrongdoing in the finance industry. The client will consult with the lawyer and present the information they have available. Then the lawyer will file documents to a court revealing the evidence and information about securities law violations. If the company or finance professional who violated securities laws agrees to a settlement, then the case is over. However, there are times when they wont’ and therefore a whistleblower attorney will need to take the case to court. If the case results in a favorable outcome for the whistleblower, then they receive compensation. Their identity is also protected during this process in order to maintain anonymity.
For a long time, many people strongly hold the notion that New Zealand is a tax haven. Recent media coverage has contributed to popularizing this notion by portraying the country’s foreign trusts as a sexy airport thriller involving complex financial deals, wealthy people and exotic lands. However, the tax situation in New Zealand is contrary to the expectations and perceptions of most people. New Zealand has proven to be a tax transparent nation as opposed to being a tax haven.
Geoff Cone debunked the tax haven perception by citing that New Zealand is not ranked or listed in OECD’s list of tax havens. By using the characteristics used to define tax havens like lack of transparency and the presence of laws that hinder the exchange of information with other governments, he concluded that New Zealand did not qualify to be one. Geoff also refuted claims of an existing top secretive private banking sector in New Zealand.
Devotion to Tax Transparency
Previously, New Zealand has displayed its deepest commitment to upholding tax transparency, for instance by being among the first nations to be included on OECD’s white list. This was after a considerable implementation of the gold standard for transparency, which serves as the 2002 OECD Model Agreement on Exchange of Information on Tax Matters. This agreement backs the global exchange of information to enforce domestic tax laws.
The Michael Cullen’s new rules introduced in 2006 have also contributed to bettering the trust and tax laws in New Zealand. Apart from holding records for tax purposes in New Zealand, a New Zealand resident trustee is required by the IRD to avail a Foreign Trust Disclosure form dubbed as IR607.
Geoff Cone has proven himself to be a top New Zealand trust and tax law expert. Together with Karen Marshall, they are the official partners and principals of the Cone Marshall Limited. Apart from being a proud holder of a post-graduate diploma in trust and tax law, he boasts of LLB honors from the University of Otago. In 1980, Geoff embarked into the world of legal practice in Auckland, New Zealand.
After shifting from Auckland to Christchurch, he became not only a partner but also a chairman of partners in a premier law firm. Through the evxperience garnered in dealing with commercial litigation as well as trust and tax advisory, he became a prominent figure of all levels of courts. Later in 1997, he made a move to begin his practice after working as a litigator in the British West Indies. Since establishing the Cone Marshall Limited, a law firm specializing in tax and trust law, it has gained popularity for expertise in the trustee and tax management as well as global trust and tax planning services.
The Securities Exchange Commission has been working to see that securities laws are respected and followed by everyone regardless of their position in the industry. The company has in the past few years followed into cases presented by whistleblowers and achieved tremendous success by intercepting wrong doings in the business world.
One of their recent achievements includes a case that was presented by a Labaton Sucharow whistleblower including investors in the financial markets. This was one of the few cases that many would not want to be involved in due to the nature of individuals implicated. After determination, the SEC collected sanctions from the perpetrators and the whistleblower was rewarded over $17 million, which represents the second largest package since the SEC was established in 2010. Learn more: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/second-largest-sec-whistleblower-award-granted-to-labaton-sucharow-client-300282555.html
Based on the high-quality information that was shared by the whistleblower, the SEC was able to get facts about the wrong doings that have existed in the financial markets. The Labaton Sucharow team is happy to see how their clients are faring well in the cases they have helped to present to the SEC and the fact the second biggest SEC payout went to their client offers them better grounds to advance the fight against violations of federal laws.
Through the SEC Whistleblower Program, whistleblowers are offered the right to receive between 10% and 30% from the monetary sanctions collected after a successful enforcement process. Jordan Thomas, the head of the Whistleblower Representation Practice at Labaton Sucharow describes the effort of the whistleblower as a brave step that few would make.
The case involves highly influential individuals and it is likely many people had the facts but feared presenting them to the SEC because of its nature. He says this is just an example of why more people should come out if they have any information that can be substantiated to prove violations in the business world.
Incepted more than 50 years ago, Labaton Sucharow has remained one of the largest law firms in the U.S. and their domain of operation has involved mainly high-end case of companies and individuals implicated in complex cases.
Labaton Sucharow was also the first firm to dive into whistleblower representation and their effort in this area has borne fruits. Most of their whistleblowers have received high rewards from the SEC. Labaton Sucharow checks on the facts in a case and advises the whistleblower accordingly to ensure once presented to the SEC the reward margin is increased.
2010 was a huge year in the history of financial regulation. Following the financial crisis of 2008, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed to address some of the issues in that crisis. One major change inaugurated by Dodd-Frank has to do with the rights of whistleblowers who recognize the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) laws. Under Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers are now encouraged to reveal violations of the SEC’s laws.
Of course, with these new laws on the books, law firms had to start offering services for SEC whistleblowers. The law firm Labaton Sucharow was the first to put into place a comprehensive whistleblower protection program. The specific program this law firm offers for SEC whistleblowers is called the SEC Whistleblower lawyers. Their group of investigators and analysts, all of whom have experience working with the federal and state law enforcement, promise to help protect whistleblowers under the new Dodd-Frank reforms.
Jordan A. Thomas is the current head of Labaton Sucharow. Thomas has great experience with the SEC because, well, he actually used to work as the Assistant Director in the Division of Enforcement for the SEC. Thomas also had an important role to play in actually creating and promoting the SEC’s Whistleblower Program.
So how does this Whistleblower Program actually work? Well, if the SEC does find real violations from a whistleblower’s tip, then the SEC has to pay the whistleblower between 10-30% of monetary sanctions over $1 million. Whistleblowers can also get different awards, all of which, of course, depends on the specifics of each case.
In recent years, the SEC has given huge awards to different whistleblowers. It was just reported that the second-highest whistleblower award was given out in 2016: a whopping $17 million. And that is not even close to the highest prize given by the SEC. The highest award through this program to a whistleblower was $30 million in 2014.
So whether one likes it or not, Dodd-Frank is here to stay. Anyone who detects illegal activities at their workplace can, by going through the proper channels and with an experienced attorney by his/her side, report violations of SEC laws anonymously. Many law firms, like Labaton Sucharow, now exist to protect whistleblowers in the post-2008 financial world.