US Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette assured the public Monday that the country will remain energy independent after the coronavirus pandemic passes, he said during an interview with Fox Business host Stuart Varney on Monday.
“I have to remind you and the viewers we are in fact in a different position than we were just 10 or 15, 20 years ago, certainly. Imagine if this pandemic had happened in 1973 or in 1974 when we were wholly dependent upon nations for the importation of oil,” Brouillette explained.
He added, “The fact that we are able to produce the amounts that we are able to produce today, place the United States of America, place this President at a position of strength in order to bring this deal together.”
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries member countries reached a deal over the weekend to cut oil production to nearly 10 million barrels per day in response to low demand amid the coronavirus global economic crisis. However, Brouillette said the cutback is “only half the story” siding with President Donald Trump who earlier tweeted that OPEC+ is cutting “20 million barrels a day, not the 10 Million that is generally being reported.”
“There are over 100 countries that produce oil all around the world and what we will see is production declining over the next few months as the world deals with this COVID-19 pandemic. So when you add up all of the production cuts around the world, we’re gonna be much closer to 20 million barrels per day coming off the market, which represents roughly 20 percent of the production just a month or a month and a half ago,” the Secretary said.
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Swiss Bank Admits to $5.6 Billion Tax Evasion Scheme, Settles for $120 Million
Banque Pictet, the private banking arm of the Pictet Group based in Switzerland, has admitted to conspiring with U.S. taxpayers to hide billions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in over 1,600 secret bank accounts. The Justice Department revealed on Monday that Banque Pictet has agreed to pay over $120 million in restitution to the U.S. Treasury as part of a settlement.
The bank’s involvement in the tax evasion scheme spanned from 2008 through 2014, during which it conspired with American taxpayer clients to conceal more than $5.6 billion of the approximately $20 billion in U.S. assets. This led to an evasion of around $50.6 million in U.S. taxes, according to prosecutors.
Of the $5.6 billion concealed, the funds were distributed across 1,637 accounts, implicating more than 40% of the total 3,736 private accounts owned by U.S. taxpayers held by the bank. Banque Pictet reportedly assisted its American clients in hiding their undeclared accounts through various means, including the formation and administration of offshore entities. Undeclared accounts were then maintained in the names of these entities on behalf of U.S. taxpayer clients.
Jim Lee, Chief of IRS Criminal Investigation, emphasized the importance of the case in sending a strong message to those attempting to hide assets and income offshore. Lee stated, “This case should provide a clear message to others who try to hide their assets and income offshore. Offshore tax evasion is a priority for IRS Criminal Investigation.”
The settlement underscores the ongoing efforts by U.S. authorities to combat tax evasion and sends a clear warning to financial institutions and individuals involved in such illicit activities. As regulatory scrutiny intensifies globally, financial institutions face increasing pressure to ensure compliance with international tax laws and prevent their involvement in tax evasion schemes.
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