Category Archives: Crime

Related Reading: The Telegraph Looks At Latest Security Technology In Bank, Private Vaults

I’m back after several days spent on matters related to the research business (focus: specialized asset protection) I’m in the process of rolling out. Despite the “spring break,” I compiled a good deal of material to blog about in the near future. Getting back into the saddle then…

“How to rob a bank”

This headline grabbed my attention while pulling up news related to Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes. Oliver Pickup reported on the website of The Telegraph (UK) this morning:

If you are toying with the idea of robbing a bank vault, here’s some friendly advice: don’t do it. Seriously. While it may be alluringly mischievous to fantasise about ill-gotten riches, the truth is that an attempted heist in 2017 is extremely likely to become a nightmare and land you in a whole heap of trouble with the law.

In fact, the chances of even glimpsing the desired lucre are slim. When our heroes in Going in Style raid the fictional WSB bank, which obligingly has bags of cash on hand, that’s what it is – fiction. This is because technological advances have made prospective targets impregnable to wannabe thieves eyeing a quick buck.

These days, the majority of banks and safe-deposit facilities are veritable mini Fort Knox-type strongholds, armed with a suite of defensive weapons, including motion sensors, continuously-monitored closed-circuit television, fingerprint recognition locks, and a series of steel cages, one inside another. And that’s just for starters

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

An interesting glimpse at the latest security technology being utilized by bank and private vaults, which you can read about here in its entirety on the The Telegraph website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)

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Economist Martin Armstrong Warns Of Storing Assets In U.S. Bank Safe Deposit Boxes

We’re back after a short break. And to jump start the continued discussion about asset protection outside the United States, I’d like to point out a February 25 blog post by economist Martin Armstrong on his company’s website. Regular readers of Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes know that Armstrong brings up bank safe deposit boxes from time to time, and the head of Armstrong Economics penned the following while I was away:

Keep in mind the government can close all banks for there is precedent. Whatever you have in a safe deposit box can also be seized and inspected.

There is no precise law against storing metal or cash in a safe deposit box. But law is malleable in the hands of any judge. He can seize the money or gold under the pretense of money laundering hiding it from the government. Under Civil Asset Forfeiture, they can assume the money is guilty of a crime being even tax evasion. It then is your burden to fight in court to get it back if you can hire a lawyer…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Keep in mind that Armstrong is referring to safe deposit boxes in U.S. financial institutions here, not secured storage containers located in private vaults outside the American banking system.

That being said, the economist sees a “global trend” in the seizure of assets through claims of money laundering and tax evasion. I blogged back on June 6, 2016:

Martin Armstrong… has chimed in on the new HSBC safe deposit box regulations in Hong Kong. He issued this warning on his company’s blog Friday:

Governments are targeting safe-deposit boxes to look for cash that is hiding from taxation. HSBC, a U.K. bank, is now moving against claimed financial crimes by altering conditions for safe-deposit boxes. This is becoming a global trend. Anything of value that is stored in a safe-deposit box is now considered money laundering. Governments want their taxes and all the laws are changing to ensure they get their money.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Anything of value that is stored in a safe-deposit box is now considered money laundering”

Does that include legally-purchased and owned precious metals (with receipts to boot also showing taxes paid when applicable)?

Once again, these are bank safe deposit boxes Armstrong is talking about.

To date, I haven’t encountered anything by Mr. Armstrong about boxes in private, non-bank vaults.

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on information found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. Christopher E. Hill, the creator/Editor of this blog, is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented on the site.)

Source:

Armstrong, Martin. “Is it Safe to Store Gold in a Safe Deposit Box?” Armstrong Economics Blog. 25 Feb. 2017. (https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/markets-by-sector/precious-metals/gold/is-it-safe-to-store-gold-in-a-safe-deposit-box/). 7 Mar. 2017.

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Thoughts On Safe Deposit Box Article By The Straits Times

Yesterday I came across an article on The Straits Times (Singapore) website entitled “Time to part ways with safe deposit boxes.” Business editor Lee Su Shyan wrote Sunday:

Growing up, having a safe deposit box symbolised financial adulthood, even more than scoring that exclusive credit card.

But that’s not a view shared by many nowadays. I did a casual check among friends and colleagues whom I met over the Chinese New Year period and only a couple owned up to having a box. Others said: “I don’t, but my mother has one.”

It’s probably the hassle that has contributed to the decline in popularity. Access is only at limited times, although the hours are certainly longer at non-bank locations such as that of Certis Cisco.

Then there is the issue of the rental rate. Even if it’s not a large sum, it’s still a few hundred dollars annually.

Banks, too, are apparently none too keen on encouraging customers to have one. They take up precious space and offer a poor return on capital.

A couple of years ago, a report by the Swiss authorities highlighted the growth of non-bank safe deposit box companies, with some quarters questioning their rapid expansion. Apparently, many customers were using them for stashing gold and valuables. Since the contents are known only to their owners, these boxes could pose a money-laundering risk…

Some thoughts about the piece:

1. Longer operating hours are indeed often found at private safe deposit box facilities. Certis Cisco in Singapore, for example, is open 365 days a year and up to 12 hours a day according to their website.

2. “Banks, too, are apparently none too keen on encouraging customers to have one.” The Times’ Rachel Boon reported on April 22, 2015, that “banks cut back on safe deposit box services in land-scarce Singapore,” with HSBC and DBS Bank closing a number of safety deposit boxes on the island nation.

3. The article stated:

A couple of years ago, a report by the Swiss authorities highlighted the growth of non-bank safe deposit box companies, with some quarters questioning their rapid expansion. Apparently, many customers were using them for stashing gold and valuables. Since the contents are known only to their owners, these boxes could pose a money-laundering risk

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I believe the report being referred to here was produced by Switzerland’s Federal Department of Finance (FDF) and released to the public on December 14, 2015 (blogged about here). From the accompanying media release:

The report also explains the money laundering and terrorist financing statutory framework in terms of safe-deposit box rental and the relevant rules of professional conduct. Moreover, it sheds light on the potential risks and actual abuses.

Although a potential risk of abuse does exist for certain categories of safe-deposit box, there is little evidence of actual abuse and thus of a real danger according to the report

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

4. The Times’ business editor concluded the piece with:

At this rate, it looks like I will have to part ways with that box. The money I save from the rental of the box won’t get me a fancy piece of jewellery – but it will go some way to buying a sturdy safe.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I don’t know how it is for Singapore, but the Spartanburg Journal-Herald (South Carolina) just noted in a February 11 article on their website:

A residence is almost 20 times more likely to be robbed than a safe deposit box in a bank.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I believe the source of this U.S. statistic is Elgin, Illinois-based Safe Deposit Box Insurance Coverage (SDBIC), a provider of safe deposit box insurance.

You can read that entire Straits Times article on the paper’s website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)

Source:

“Money Talk: Security for a safe deposit box in an insecure world.” Spartanburg Herald-Journal. 11 Feb. 2017. (http://www.goupstate.com/news/20170211/money-talk-security-for-safe-deposit-box-in-insecure-world). 13 Feb. 2017.

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Consider Country Corruption Perceptions When Selecting Location For Offshore Safe Deposit Box

Over the last year I’ve provided blog readers with some potential resources for determining where to open an overseas safe deposit box.

On February 29, 2016, I pointed out Mercer’s 18th annual Quality of Living Survey.

On March 7, 2016, I identified HSBC Bank’s 8th annual Expat Explorer Survey.

This morning, I’m going to talk about another possible resource with Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2016. From the Facebook page for the Berlin-based international non-governmental organization:

Transparency International (TI) is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption. TI challenges the inevitability of corruption, and offers hope to its victims…

Our best-known tool is the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which measures the perceived level of public-sector corruption around the world…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

And from a January 25 press release regarding the 2016 edition of the CPI:

69 per cent of the 176 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 scored below 50, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean), exposing how massive and pervasive public sector corruption is around the world. This year more countries declined in the index than improved, showing the need for urgent action…

Denmark and New Zealand perform best with scores of 90, closely followed by Finland (89) and Sweden (88). Although no country is free of corruption, the countries at the top share characteristics of open government, press freedom, civil liberties and independent judicial systems…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Rounding out the “top ten” were:

5. Switzerland
6. Norway
7. Singapore
8. Netherlands
9. Canada
10. 3-way-tie between Germany, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom

The United States came in at number 18, falling from 16th place a year earlier.

You can view 2016’s Corruption Perceptions Index here on Transparency International’s website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on information found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. Christopher E. Hill, the creator/Editor of this blog, is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented on the site.)

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Thoughts About The Hatton Garden Job Movie Trailer Release

Back on April 8, 2015, I blogged for the first time about the now-infamous heist of potentially £21 million in valuables from 73 safe deposit boxes within Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd. in London.

Earlier today, I viewed the official movie trailer for The Hatton Garden Job ahead of its April 14, 2017, release.


“The Hatton Garden Job- Official Trailer”
YouTube Video

Probably not the kind of publicity private, non-bank vaults really need.

That being said, I offer up the following again from an October 2, 2015, blog post:

I read on Hatton Garden’s website (still operational as I type this) that the non-bank vault “was founded in 1954 making it one of the first companies in the UK to offer safe deposit boxes.” Such a shame things had to come to this. But as I’ve noted several times since this blog has been up and running, both bank and private vaults have fallen victim to criminal activity lately (I found the October 19, 2014, bombing of a Berliner Sparkasse bank branch and theft of contents belonging to more than 100 safe deposit boxes from its vault particularly interesting). And I think it’s only going to get worse in the short to medium term as financial crises pop off all over the word (the 2008 global economic crisis was merely papered-over by governments and central bankers, who only “kicked the can” down the road a bit), and criminals grow bolder as public safety budgets are slashed.

All vault operators should strive to protect their customer’s valuables to the best of their abilities. In the wake of Hatton Garden and prior to this grittier operating environment I envision, management should take a second look at security infrastructure, procedures, and personnel, and follow through on implementation. Perhaps recent vault burglaries could be scrutinized as to what needs to be addressed?

Regrettably, I suspect it’s only a matter of time before we hear about a really ruthless assault on one of these facilities. Let’s hope the incident turns out to be just an exception rather than the rule because bank and private vaults took time to prepare.

By Christopher E. Hill
Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes (www.offshoresafedepositboxes.com)

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