They have all but vanished from the face of the earth.
What has taken their place?
A few decades ago many countries and their banks offered reliable bank secrecy. Fishing expeditions by local or foreign law enforcement was not allowed –but even back then, if police had information about a specific named criminal and his exact account number, banks in most countries would allow the freezing and confiscation of ill-gotten -gains—especially from things like bank robberies. But tax evasion alone or gains from bribery & corruption was not considered a sufficient reason for breaking bank secrecy. Many movies and novels of the day glamorized these secrecy deals.
If you spoke to a banker in those places, they would say
“If you didn’t break the laws of our country,
we are happy to accept and manage your money.
If we didn’t take it, someone else would.”
One Swiss banker told me, back in the day, that at least 99.99% of all Swiss Bank clients were paying the relatively high bank custodial fees (as much as 2-3% a year) for only one reason: They wanted to keep “black money” safely hidden from their local tax man. The concept of money laundering did not exist.
This comfortable situation began to unravel when an employee of a big Swiss bank stole the account information on hundreds of all their big clients. He put the names, dates, numbered account numbers and amounts involved on a CD Rom, and offered it to the Germans, Italians and Americans. The Germans paid him. The USA government promised him a reward of around $5 million. But the Americans discovered that their confidential informant had purposely omitted ONE Florida client & friend from the alleged “complete list of all major clients” of his former bank employer… They refused payment and … the informer was tried, convicted and sent to jail in the USA for fraud. The IRS tried valiantly to get out of paying him the promised reward, but he sued in the USA.
Because the IRS had collected hundreds of millions in fines and back taxes, a sympathetic judge awarded the informer who had broken his own country’s laws a very good cash settlement. After his release from jail, he took the money & disappeared. He is still wanted in Switzerland on criminal charges for violating their bank secrecy laws and betraying his fiduciary duties.
This disloyalty to his own & other bank clients was followed by many other employees doing the same thing for fun or profit. Subsequent revelations like the Panama Papers, revealed to the general public the huge scope of hot or “black”money deposited abroad by major politicians & respectable industrialists, etc.
New laws in most countries followed the USA. Bank secrecy & numbered accounts ceased to exist. New USA laws like FATCA forced all banks all over the world to “”know their customers,” and to verify the legal tax paid sources and application of all funds. The vague crime of Money Laundering could now be charged against anyone who had “too much money,” or used unreported un-taxed income for almost anything. Hundreds of thousands of accounts were closed. The assets sought and found new homes. But that is another story.
Corporations, trusts or other structures to hide ownership of financial accounts became illegal & criminal – unless the true, beneficial owners were revealed. Banks in all countries had to fall in line to comply with new USA laws & regulations. Why? If they did not comply they were severely fined & deprived of the right to do any business in USA dollars –which was, and still is, the major world trade currency.
As of this writing, only a very few countries still offer foreigners & locals any form of theoretical bank secrecy. They are all under pressure not to do so any longer. Certain countries are exceptions. They do not harbor any affection for the USA or it’s laws. These include Russia, China, Paraguay and quite a few others. Some are actually phasing out their dependence on the USA dollar. But that too is another story.
Needless to say, many people have a desire– a perceived need to hide assets acquired legally (or otherwise). Why? Kidnappers, ex-spouses, swindlers, ambulance chaser lawyers, zealous police and tax collectors have been known to wrongly confiscate private assets in civil forfeitures and such. Many people, especially PTs, seek privacy. How can they find privacy, safety and security?
Regulated, compliant banks are useless in this endeavor. In My Opinion, banks and accountants have become no more than agents that will report every little thing about you to their own governments, to the country you live in physically, and also your country of citizenship. Distancing yourself seems to be the answer. Lawyers and priests still have some protection at odds with with current trends, I would not bet my ass or my assets on them keeping my secrets either.
Although tax avoidance or evasion might not be criminal in many jurisdictions; many countries, especially the U.S.A. will (in order to grab a foreign account they have found out about) just make up & claim a crime like “Fraud” assisting terrorists, or money laundering. The use as an excuse, some fabricated charge that is illegal in the jurisdiction. When Big Brother wants to confiscate your money, they can and will make up a reason. To freeze your bank accounts they don’t need to prove anything. They WILL get your assets. How? The USA “authorities” can & will freeze unrelated money in the USA branches of your bank. If your bank doesn’t have a USA branch then they can still seize their correspondent bank’s USA dollar deposits.
Almost every bank in the world to operate effectively must have deposits of USA dollars in New York City. Of course once their own money is already tied up, any foreign bank will capitulate and give up any & all info about their too trusting customers. The USA has been doing this maneuver for the last 50 years… It has happened to several friends of mine. No clients. Why? Because I warned them against having exposed bank accounts. Confiscating foreign bank accounts is all too easy for the IRS and other USA agencies, It isn’t even something new. What should you do? Preferably keep away from all bank accounts especially any in your own (real) name. See “Straw Man” section. We may know of some lesser known locations for private banking. Go There, if absolutely necessary to have bank accounts. They will be relatively safe if you keep your big mouth shut and don’t brag about them. Obviously if held in an alternate identity (i.e. a name or company not associated with you) your assets will be much safer.
As explained elsewhere in this report, the U.S.A. Itself is the largest tax haven in the world for Non-Americans. No reporting, and no taxes (except withholding of 30% on dividends). You can use a Limited Liability Company in certain states where the beneficial owner is kept off any system files.
We suggest that it is best to avoid all jurisdictions that are known to be well-used as asset havens.
This Special Report explores how new solutions like tax haven residence, Cyber currencies, offshore storage vaults, and many other confidential means of asset protection and preservation are taking the place of the now mostly useless (formerly) secret bank accounts.
Want to escape from the banks & governmental surveillance of your ass & your assets? Here are a few of the suggestionsmade to my consulting clients.
Traditional Hidden Assets: Old Gold Coins in a can — buried or securely hidden—maybe in a trick- brick wall. Old coins you might have inherited from your great grandfather’s collection personal collection are better than new coins with current dates you can’t pass off as old family heirlooms. Silver coins oxidize and turn black but if plasticized will look good as new years from now — though the plastic won’t. Problem with silver is that it may take up 200X as much space as the equivalent value of gold. Coins, common ones anyway, are always easy to liquidate. Bars or ingots less so. Other precious metals like titanium, platinum, rare earths? Forget them; no liquidity. In your own country, don’t use bank safe deposit boxes, they are as insecure as bank accounts. A self-storage locker, with good security is better.
Semi-perishables: like wine, whiskey, cigars, cigarettes, even toilet paper, do not last forever like gold. Still, if you can find and utilize optimal storage conditions, like a bonded warehouse in a free zone outside of your own country, these can be OK for diversification. Disadvantage is of course the relatively high fees you will pay.
Securities held by a stockbroker in a country that does not report to your own Big Brother country. The USA might be OK for this if you are NOT a USA citizen, resident or “person.” We have other recommendations but don’t wish to make them public.
Collectibles like paintings, sculpture, tapestries, race horses, old classic cars, rare animals, yachts, fine furniture. O.K. Only if you 1) Know what you are doing 2) Enjoy owning these traditional things 3) Enjoy associating with other collectors. Are they recommended? Not as a reliable store of value, but as a pleasant way to spend your time and money. Fads like digital pictures” or “virtual real estate” at crazy prices are emphatically not recommended. If you can be a full time or part time DEALER, buying and selling with a degree of detachment –not falling in love with your product, Go For It.
Prepaid Debit Cards & Hidden Cash? Recommendation? Only enough to cover current expenses for a year or two. A stable currency like the Swiss Franc 1000CHF bills worth over $1000 currently is probably better than most. Singapore $10,000 bills are also good for hiding on your person.
Cyber currency. Top recommendation. You can cross borders or buy mansions anywhere with Bitcoin, etc. Only recently in 2021 have I become a believer. Why? They have stood the test of time and are now mainstream. Whole countries and major investors have taken substantial (Billion Dollar) positions. I wouldn’t bet my life savings, but I’d risk maybe up to 10% of my total assets in selected “tokens.” When? Wait for substantial market drops. They happen regularly. Buy well below peaks and market tops. Get in – but only after putting in plenty of time and effort to learn and understand the different possibilities & what is involved. Learn how to buy and sell them discretely and without any mark up. Learn how to safely store them (not with an exchange). Do not use Leverage (borrowed money) or buy any options –These are not for me as they could and often do go to zero. In this report that you are reading, I have a substantial section on Cryptocurrencies. As you should know by now, much of what you read on the internet —especially predictions –is worth what you pay for it—NOTHING. And the same can be said for courses and info you pay for. You need to develop a nose that detects Bull-shit and crazy theories. Common sense goes a long way when you want to protect your ass and grow your assets.