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July 7, 2015 / 20 Tammuz, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘business’

Israel Follows US Lead on Hunting Citizens’ Foreign Assets

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Israelis who have not filled out forms for declaring their assets to the Israel Tax Authority and have unreported overseas bank accounts are being targeted, Globes reports, in ways mirroring the methods of the IRS and U.S. Treasury.

In an agreement reached between Israel’s Finance Ministry and the United States more than a year ago, the Israel Tax Authority agreed to report the accounts of U.S. citizens in Israel to the IRS. In exchange, the IRS agreed it “may” report on income in the accounts of Israelis in the United States.

The U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) for “improving global tax enforcement” requires banks in dozens of foreign countries to collect and share private financial information about millions of Americans living and working outside the U.S.

Tens of thousands of Americans who came on aliyah fall into this category, and have since been warned by their banks they must fill out an annual IRS W-9 and “FBAR” (Foreign Bank Account Report.)

“The U.S. sent a delegation here, which examined our systems and information security and was very impressed,” said Israel Tax Authority head Moshe Asher in a speech this week to the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP.)

Asher told participants at a business conference this week to expect more arrests of Israelis with unreported overseas assets.

According to the Tax Authority, there are Israelis who are holding an estimated NIS 50 billion in concealed capital in unreported accounts around the world. And after starting a war on illegal capital, Asher commented that the Tax Authority has already raised income tax revenue by NIS 3.5 billion over projected forecasts since the beginning of the year.

“Switzerland was once the world’s safe deposit box from which no information could be extracted,” Asher said.

But, “they have been forthcoming recently, even if in contravention of Swiss law… Inroads have been made in Swiss banking confidentiality – it’s like any other country now, subject to conventions and obligated to provide information.

“Secrecy is over: the world has become more transparent and much smaller… This is the time to come and make an arrangement for unreported capital, because the tax authorities will find it.”

Barak Invests $1 Million in Firm Linked to Military-Industrial Complex [video]

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Published on Jewish Business News
by Ilan Shavit

The start-up Reporty Homeland Security Ltd has taken a $1 million investment from Israeli former prime minister, former defense minister, and former IDF chief of staff Ehud Barak.

Reporty is developing a platform to transmit real-time emergency reports. The company says the investment is designed to accelerate the development, recruitment and continued distribution in 911-type agencies worldwide.

Founded in 2014, the company is well-connected within Israel’s military industrial complex and the politicians that receive their flowers via FTD: there’s CEO Amir Elihai, a former special forces officer, as was Barak. He has worked 10 years in security organizations and has extensive experience in venture capital in Israel; and Pinchas Bukhris, former defense ministry director general and former commander of the IDF cyber unit 8200, now a director at Reporty. Ehud Barak said in a Reporty press release statement: “Reporty provides an answer to the essential need of every citizen – a sense of security, based on immediate and easy access to emergency services, including municipalities, hospitals, airports, Police, Fire and Rescue, etc. “Reporty will provide a platform for control and reporting, including large masses while protecting the privacy of each citizen.” Each year emergency services in Israel and around the world receive hundreds of millions of calls, goes Reporty’s raison d’etre. The average conversation time is from two and three and a half minutes, during which the operator must quickly assess credibility of the report, the event’s location, and what resources are available for use. Despite the long time spent delineating the relevant information for decision-making, various organizations still report that between 20 and 30 percent of their calls turn out to be false alarms. Another critical aspect is the speed of detecting the location of the caller. In the US alone, about 10,000 people die annually due to authorities’ failure to identify the locations of reported emergencies.

Report aims to change the scene when it comes to communication between the reporting caller and the various authorities, by streamlining the process of reporting and receiving, saving on expenses, and, more importantly, saving lives. The new application works through a broadcast video in real time, which, with the click of a button, transmits two-way video and audio to the appropriate emergency center, including accurate data about the location and the report’s degree of credibility.

This article was written by Ilan Shavit

China and Israel Sharing Market Opportunities

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

One of Israel’s most influential business conferences, the 12th Go4Israel Conference was held this week on Tuesday, October 27th at the Hilton Tel Aviv, and placed particular attention on China. Over 1,000 participants took part in the conference including international and local entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders.

“The conference reflects Israel’s role in bringing the world’s West and East economies together. With an increasing presence of China in Israel’s business scene, we can help enhance global relationships between investors and entrepreneurs, mainly from Europe, China and Israel,” said the French-born Edouard Cukierman, the chairman and founder of Cukierman & Co. Investment House, which organized the conference along with its private equity fund, Catalyst Fund. Cukierman & Co. Investment House Ltd. heads Israel’s largest investment team and has been involved for the past 20 years in raising €4 billion in transactions, much of it for Israeli startups and mature companies.

“Israel has always been the center of attraction for investors and entrepreneurs from around the world,” Cukierman added.

Hong Kong property tycoon Ronnie Chan agrees. Chan, chairman of the Hang Lung Group, received the Go4Israel achievement prize at this year’s Go4Israel conference in honor of his contribution to strengthening the business and political relationship between China and Israel.

“Israel is at the center of the world,” Chan told Tazpit News Agency. “Geographically and historically, this region has always been at the center,” he told Tazpit.

Chan, a devout Christian, has been visiting Israel frequently in the past 36 years and has brought many delegations of major Chinese business leaders and entrepreneurs to introduce to Israeli high-tech companies.

A featured speaker at the conference and one of the participants in the Go4China panel, Chan spoke of what initially sparked China’s interest in Israel. “Chinese businessmen are intrigued by Israel, both Christians and atheists. The book, Start-Up Nation, was read widely throughout China and really did a lot for Israel,” Chan said during a panel discussion about the rise of China in Israel’s business agenda.

According to Cukierman, China has acquired $7 billion in Israeli assets in the past three years.

This year alone, the Chinese equity-investment management and financial-services company, Yongjin Group Inc., has invested between $15 million and $20 million into Israel’s Pitango Venture Capital. In late August, Chinese computer maker, Lenovo Group Ltd. invested $10 million in venture fund Canaan Partner Israel, affiliated with the American-based Canaan Partners. Ping An Venture has made six investments in Israeli startups, following the creation of a $100 million fund dedicated to U.S. and Israel tech venture. Ping An Venture also invested in a new fund set up by Israel’s Carmel Ventures capital firm, as did Chinese Internet search engine, Baidu,

“We are firm believers of combining two market places – China and Israel, together,” said Shengyan Fan, the managing partner of the Catalyst CEL Fund, a joint venture between China Everbright Limited and Cuckierman, during the panel discussion. “I’m really happy to be here – I’ve been to Israel many times in the last two years and look forward to achieving mutual goals together,” she said.

Other panel discussions dealt with the place of Europe in Israel’s business agenda, opportunities and risks in the global and local real estate market, and the image of Israel abroad.

Chan related that during the past summer war, a Chinese delegation of businessmen had visited Israel. “Even with Hamas firing rockets, not one member of the delegation wanted to leave,” said Chan. “They were too intrigued by Israel. These businessmen have become Israel’s friends for life now.”

Gasoline Prices Dropped at Midnight

Monday, September 1st, 2014

The price of gasoline in Israel dropped by a symbolic amount on Sunday at midnight — by one agora per liter for self-service 95 octane.

The price for the gasoline went from NIS 7.40 to Nis 7.39 per liter, the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Resources announced. All other prices were unchanged.

Summer of War: The Cost of the Conflict on Israel

Monday, August 25th, 2014

The nearly two-month-long conflict with Hamas that has taken an economic toll on Israel, In addition to the military expenditures from Operation Protective Edge, physical damage to commercial facilities and the financial impact on industries such as retail and tourism have dragged the country into an economic slump, while the psychological cost on the children growing up in the south will take years to assess.

Nearly 3,000 claims for damage have been submitted to the Israel Tax Authority, which has so far paid some $20 million for direct damages and another $21 million for missed work days and other indirect damage. According to existing laws, workers in businesses located within 40 kilometers from the Gaza border get paid for the days they are absent from work, and their employers are eligible for full compensation from the government for these wages.

Israel’s Ministry of Tourism reports that tourism for July dropped by 26 percent from the same period last year. The sector, comprising about 7 percent of the Israeli economy, has lost at least $566 million, according to the figures.

The hardest-hit from the ongoing war are the businesses in the south of the country, which has sustained the bulk of the rocket fire from Hamas. Stores and restaurants have suffered from a drop in sales, while manufacturing facilities close to the Gaza border have been impacted by slowdowns in manufacturing due to incessant rocket alerts.

Israel’s Manufacturers Association estimated the total economic impact on Israeli manufacturers for the first round of the conflict at about 1.2 billion shekels, with factories in the south accounting for 40 percent of this figure, and facilities in Haifa and the center of the country incurring half the losses.

The agricultural sector has also experienced significant physical damage from the falling projectiles. Since the Iron Dome system is only activated when there is a projectile headed for a built-up area, thousands of rockets and mortars have landed in open fields, many of them belonging to farms. In addition to crop damage, there have been a number of incidents of injury and death of cattle, chickens and other livestock as a result of rocket impacts.

In an effort to assist businesses hurt by the conflict, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau proposed a tax exemption to Gaza-adjacent communities in the south. The move would be part of a comprehensive aid package consisting of tax breaks as well as reparations.

The latest war with Hamas came at a time when the Israeli economy was already in a slowdown, with a strong shekel decreasing exports and growth for the second quarter of 2014 falling to 1.7 percent from 2.8 percent in the first quarter. In response, the Bank of Israel decided on July 28 to cut its benchmark interest rate to a five-year low of 0.5 percent.

“We assess that economic activity is experiencing a sort of contraction, that began before the start of the Gaza operation,” the bank said Aug. 18. “This contraction will worsen in the current quarter, although some degree of rebound can be expected as soon as the hostilities cease.”

Max Levchin Looking To Repeat Paypal Success With Affirm

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

This article first appeared on JewishBusinessNews

PayPal co-founder Max Levchin netted a reported $34 million when his brainchild was sold to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion. Ever since that day, the sometimes weird whiz kid Levchin, now 39, has been trying to do it again.

Now he told the San Jose Mercury News that he did.

Actually, he has been into another impressive project since PaPal, helping to start Yelp, the gripe and review site which is worth about $5.4 billion, and then there was Slide, a social gaming site that Google bought in 2010 for an estimated $200 million.

Now Levchin has launched Affirm, an online lending platform that offers personalized financing for. He announced last June that Affirm had raised $45 million in its first venture capital funding round. And people are paying attention, expecting Affirm to reach a PayPal kind of success.

Like PayPal, Affirm uses the Internet to move money around, in a secure fashion, which has the potential of peeling off yet another traditional bastion of global financial institutions, offering consumers buying power they never had before.

“I’m not trying to correct the wrongs of the past,” Levchin told the San Jose Mercury News. “But the underlying structure of the finance industry is still decrepit.”

Affirm offers consumers, especially young people, who don’t yet have cash or credit to their names, the financing they need to make big purchases, with delayed payments and monthly payment plans, helping them stay away from the scourge of credit card debt.

Scott Banister, an investor and former business partner of Levchin’s, described Affirm as “Max getting back into financial services with everything he learned from PayPal. You will definitely see big things.”

Levchin grew up in Kiev, Ukraine, in a Jewish family that fled rising anti-Semitism for Chicago, where they arrived when Max was 16.

Emergency Measures to Assist Residents of South

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

The Agency for Small and Mid-Sized Enterprises at the Ministry of the Economy has announced an emergency plan to assist businesses in war-battered southern communities.

The plan includes special assistance programs for small and mid-sized enterprises in the south, assistance in obtaining money from the property compensation fund, business advice and advice for obtaining financing from funds.  

The special benefits will be available to small businesses up to 40 km from the Gaza border, who will receive fee exemption and expedited treatment. The program will be administered by the Maof network . Services will include 
  *   Assistance in obtaining compensation from property tax – a new service to help enterprises navigate the bureaucracy at the Tax Authority, including filling out forms.
  *   Expert advice and business and marketing consultancy – eligibility for up to 20 extra hours of business consultancy.
  *   Special emergency guidance for businesspeople – led by experts and fully financed by the Agency on subjects related to the emergency situation (financing, labor law, cash flow, etc.)
  *   Advice for obtaining financing from funds – funds which have activated programs for this zone. The advice will help businesspeople fill out the necessary forms of a fund. The service is free.

In addition, the ministries of finance and the economy announced a special supplement of NIS 100 million to a loan-guarantee program for small- and mid-sized businesses in the Gaza Belt region. The program ensures government-backing for business loans in the area. Lastly, representatives of the agencies coordinating the government-back loans will be available to meet businesspeople at Maof offices in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheva, and Sderot. The Agency states that businesspeople from the confrontation zone seeking assistance will be exempt from the NIS 250 registration fee and that applications will be handled expeditiously, taking nine days instead of the month required in normal times.

Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett commented, “We are also supporting the soldiers on the economic front. Economic soundness and ensuring financial security of businesses in the south is a critical part of the strength of residents of the south. We are taking steps to support businesspeople and ensure their stability immediately, and we will continue to do so after Operation Protective Edge is over.”

For more information, residents of the eligible areas can telephone 1-700-558-040, or visit the Agency for Small and Mid-Sized Enterprise website at www.sba.economy.gov.il.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/emergency-measures-to-assist-residents-of-south/2014/07/24/

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