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Archive for June 2011

By EDWARD WELSCH And CAROLYN M. KING

Quebec tax authorities raided the offices of one of Canada’s largest gold trading and research firms, Kitco Metals Inc., probing whether the company and several others may have illegally avoided paying more than C$150 million (US$154 million) in Quebec sales taxes.

Revenu Quebec hasn’t pressed any charges. But in a statement, it said it had reason to believe that Kitco, a privately owned precious-metals trader and research firm based in Montreal, worked with several entities and individuals in a scheme involving gold-bullion and gold-scrap transactions that allowed them to inappropriately collect provincial tax credits.

The agency also said it had reason to believe another privately owned Montreal gold wholesaler, Carmen International Inc., was involved in a similar scheme, as well as 124 other scrap-gold and precious-metals companies that served as intermediaries, or were complicit in the alleged fraud.

The total value of the alleged illegal transactions amounted to a total of C$1.8 billion and allegedly defrauded the government of more than C$150 million in taxes, the agency said.

Kitco said in a statement that Revenu Quebec’s claims are unfounded and that it intends to contest the allegations. Joseph Chesir, one of the founders of Carmen International, declined to comment when reached over the phone Friday.

Revenu Quebec said 175 tax agents issued warrants and seized documents at 70 businesses starting on Tuesday. A Revenu Quebec spokeswoman said the agency is reviewing the documents before deciding whether to press formal charges.

WSJ

The code he is referencing was designed to stop business signs, but the police use it to control civil protest.

Here is the link to the cities info page on “business signs”

How bad is the problem? The EPA estimates that the cost of upgrading and replacing America’s dilapidated water infrastructure will be more than $1 trillion. At current spending rates, it would take us 700 years to replace aging water assets.

It gets worse. Aqua America (WTR, news), a utility that operates between Texas and Maine, reports that it operates with some 75-year-old pipes. York Water (YORW, news) still uses some cast iron pipes from 1840. In Boston, they’ve recently found wooden pipes still connecting water mains to historic residences. And in New York City, many water mains are nearly 100 years old.

It’s not just an American problem. London reportedly loses 50% of treated drinking water to leaks in old pipes.

As for piping water to newly expanding cities, finding adequate supplies is a big issue. Asia contains 61% of the world’s population but only 36% of its fresh water supply. China is even worse off, with 21% of the world’s population but only 7% share of the fresh water.

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