Offshore Banking

[Article Recovered from Hacked Autonomist]

It is obvious enough why independent individualists have an interest in offshore banks. Almost no significant financial activity of any kind, escapes the government's observation. It is not just transactions with banks, but with "dealers in precious metals, stones, or jewels; pawnbrokers; loan or finance companies; insurance companies; travel agencies; telegraph companies; sellers of vehicles, including automobiles, airplanes, and boats;" which all must report "suspicious" financial activity to the government. "Suspicious" means any transactions most people would prefer the government kept their nose out of.

[If you have nothing else to do, you can read details of the legal requirements for reporting your financial transactions to the government. Bank Secrecy Act/ Anti-Money Laundering]

The only way to prevent the government from observing your financial activity is to make all your transactions private and with individuals who share your view that what you do with your money is none of the government's business, or to perform all your significant transactions outside the jurisdiction of your government. The easiest way to do that is make those transactions with funds kept in an offshore bank.

There are lots of companies and agencies eager to help you set up offshore bank accounts, and will even help you to set up off-shore corporations, and other means of keeping you private finances private. Unfortunately, their help and advice, like all other businesses is frequently not very good, and sometimes downright fraudulent. As an independent individualist, however, much of what these companies do, you can and ought to do for yourself. You are the one person you know you can rely on and trust.

The Business of Offshore Business

I have not researched in detail all of these companies. Some of them probably are very useful. For some, willing to pay for their services and the convenience of having that kind of work done for them, so they can concentrate on other things, these may be a valuable resource. My comments are based on what is obvious and anyone can discover for themselves.

The first outfit I examined is World Offshore Banks. There may be sound reasons for offshore bank accounts other than privacy, and I have nothing to say about the soundness of any of these banks for other purposes, but most are larger banks, and most have a US presence, which means they almost certainly have a signed a Bank Secrecy Waiver Agreement, and that means there is no secrecy at all from any government that decides your account is of interest. Your financial privacy is obviously not the first priority of World Offshore Banks.

There is one useful feature, however, on the front page?a list of offshore bank locations, which if clicked, provides a list, with contact details, of all the banks in that location. I noticed that Hong Kong and Singapore, which have some very private Banks, were significantly missing from the list.

Who Runs These Things?

The Sovereign Society is an organization I've been familiar with for a long time, mostly because of the organization' chairman, John A. Pugsley, well known among investors and highly respected.

I was, therefore, disappointed to find some very bad advice on that site. On their Offshore Banking page, under, "Your Quick Fix to Total Wealth," Robert E. Bauman, describing the virtues of asset protection, writes: "At the very least, the long distance between a U.S. plaintiff's lawsuit and your offshore assets is likely to encourage a favorable settlement. And keeping assets offshore avoids the U.S. asset-tracking network, which permits lawyers and their investigators to easily identify and target the assets of a potential defendant. (Revealing your offshore assets may be the best way to discourage a lawsuit. Just tell that greedy lawyer, 'try and get 'em!')"

Not long ago I read an article about a fairly wealthy young man who in the course of a contentious divorce made the mistake of telling his estranged wife that she would never get his money because it was in a Secret Swiss bank account. That was all her lawyers needed to locate the account and, by means of the Swiss Bank's, Bank Secrecy Waiver Agreement, were able to secure the funds from that account.

The old saying that, "even a fish won't get caught if it keeps its mouth shut," really applies to anyone who wants to maintain their financial privacy. The absolute worst thing one can do if threatened with a lawsuit is to reveal how you have protected yourself from it. If the litigation lawyers cannot get their mitts on your dough, be content with that; there is no reason to rub their noses in it.

I'm sure this really means nothing, but I could not help noticing on their Council of Experts, their expert on "World Currency Options" is named Jack Crooks. Really!

An Interesting Service

One organization I had never heard of until my recent research is Capitol Conservator Offshore Banking, which I found very interesting. Theirs is a true service which essentially provides two things: a layer of insulation between you and the bank your "offshore" (actually, Central European) account is in, so the bank never knows who you are. The other very important service is a secure untraceable funds (wire) transfer method. Unlike most of these offshore banking outfits, their offices are staffed by live people who can be reached by phone during (New Zealand) business hours.

If these are services you are willing to pay for (they can be achieved other ways requiring a bit of work), Capitol Conservator Offshore Banking is worth a thorough investigation. They obviously do not provide this kind of service free, nor should they. It's $250 to open an account, and the minimum deposit is $500. Not bad for the security it buys.

For The Same $250

For the same $250 you could get a lot less. Outfits like DeltaQuest offer a number of services including:

* Offshore and Tax Knowledge Database
* Worldwide Registration of Offshore Companies and Trusts
* Tax Planning
* Yacht, Ship and Aircraft Registration
* Accounting & Audit
* Business Facilitation
* Property Management
* Legal Advise and Representation
* Patent and Trademark Registration
* Website and Logo Design

To have access to their 3,000 page, "Offshore and Tax Knowledge Database," [about which I have more to say] you must be a member, which costs $250; or, you can become silver member for $500. Whether any of these membership fees can be used toward opening a bank account it does not say.

If you do decide to open an offshore bank account with them it can cost anywhere from $500 to $1500, and is usually $700 to $900. That's a bit steep, but as they say, "We spent years on studying banking systems and banking services in different countries, learning relevant regulations and requirements, building relationship with various banks and other financial institutions. It is much easier for the bank and for the client that there is someone in the middle, who will explain all the options available, answer all the questions, prepare all the documents and request all the paperwork, check the background, make initial due diligence and prepare the client."

All this expertise and all these services may be worth up to $1500 to you, but most or all of it can obtained for almost nothing and a little work. Even if you do choose to use a service like DeltaQuest, you'll need to investigate that service as well.

The Independent Individualist Way

I am not saying an independent individualist will not buy and use any of the offshore business services, only that an independent individualist can do it on his own and is not dependent on any other individual or service. Fifteen years ago the research and contacts would be very tedious, but today's Internet makes it almost easy.

For example, here's a free database, for which you need not membership at any price, on every country in the world, the CIA World Fact Book. Suppose you examine some countries that interest you and decide you'd like to know more about Antigua and Barbuda. Select Antigua and Barbuda from the pull-down menu, and you are taken to a page with a map and more information than you'll ever be able to use, including: the kind of government it has, basic legal system, it's economy, communication systems, transportation, climate, and people. After you have looked at a few countries and found some of interest, (I'm sticking at the moment with Antigua and Barbuda) do a Goggle search on one of those countries.

Since I'm interested in banks, I typed in, "banks Antigua and Barbuda." I scrolled past the first few to Antigua & Barbuda - Banks, which happens to be the Caribbean Online Yellow Pages listing all 31 banks in Antigua and Barbuda with addresses and contact information for every location. Not satisfied I want back and did my search on Antigua and Barbuda, and selected Government of Antigua and Barbuda, on which are links to information on all their laws, businesses and banks. Though this Antigua and Barbuda Homepage is not about banks, it is lovely to look at. A bonus for doing your own research.

After examining their laws, I'm convinced Antigua and Barbuda banks are signatories of the Bank Secrecy Waiver Agreement, so I checked a few more countries from the CIA Fact Sheet, and noticed this comment at the end of its description of Dominica: "anti-money-laundering enforcement is weak, making the country particularly vulnerable to money laundering." They make "money-laundering" sound like some kind of disease or natural disaster. I doubt very much if either the island or the people are "vulnerable" or in any danger because there might be money laundering going on, except from the governments of those countries that do not like it.

Sounded promising to me so I looked up Dominica banks and found one very interesting one.

Griffon Bank Limited, it says, is a, "private offshore bank chartered in the Commonwealth of Dominica, West Indies. Dominica is an independent English speaking country located between the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique." They offer the following services: 24/7 Internet Banking; Personal and Corporate multicurrency Current Accounts; Savings Accounts; Offshore Company Incorporation; Term Deposits; Payment Cards; and Currency Exchange. They actually offer more, not the least of which is confidentiality.

The minimum savings account is $5000. The cost of opening an account? Not $1500, not $500, not even $250. Opening an account is FREE!. In fact, most of their services for account holders are free, including: Servicing of a term deposit or savings account for legal entities and persons; Fax, Mail and Encrypted E-mail. They also offer some interesting credit cards, including the Nameless Maestro Debit Card for a one time fee of $50. (I believe it is one time; it might be annual.)

Interest on a $100,000 two year term deposit is 5% per year, (compounding not described) with this little side note: "All interest earned is tax free in Dominica," unlike the United States where nothing is tax free.

This is all only for information, of course, and I'm not recommending the Griffon Bank (and have no personal or business association with them). If you are interested, their contact information is here. They operate regular business hours and are on Eastern Standard time (no daylight savings time) all year.

Here's My Offer

There are many agencies and companies providing the kind of information I have given you, or pointed you to, in this article. From them, you would pay anywhere from $250 to $1000 for this kind of "report." I've given it to you free.

If you just cannot be bothered doing your own homework, and you are determined to pay someone else to set up an offshore bank account for you, and really do not mind a third party knowing some of your business, instead of going to this guy, who has been doing this for years (I've known him since before the Internet days), and paying him $3000 to $5000 dollars to do it for you, send me your email address and I'll give you may PayPal account information, so you can send me $500. Then I'll contact you and I'll set up a nice offshore account for you. For a small yearly fee, I'll even maintain it for you.