Category Archives: Government

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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Related Reading: James Rickards Mentions Role Of Private, Non-Bank Vaults In Next Financial Crisis

Monday night I was reading a just-published article by American lawyer, economist, investment banker, and best-selling author James Rickards on The Daily Reckoning website. In “The Ice-Nine Lockdown,” Rickards discussed the fictional doomsday machine “Ice-Nine,” which served as “a metaphor to explain what’s going to happen in the financial system and the next financial crisis.”

What he forecasts certainly isn’t pretty.

At one point in the piece Rickards stated:

Physical gold and silver is the answer to Ice-Nine, and you should get it while you still can…

He elaborated elsewhere:

The thing about gold and silver is that it needs to be in physical form, in safe storage, and a non-bank. Putting it in a safety deposit box in a bank is troublesome because by the time you want it the most, that will be when the banks are going to be closed…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

A really interesting article, which you can read on The Daily Reckoning website here.

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 material 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. 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 contained herein.)

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Related Reading: Another Take On ‘Old’ Gold Coins Being Better Than Bullion Against Confiscation

Earlier this week I discussed two recent blog posts by economist Martin Armstrong concerning what he thinks is the most effective way to possess and retain physical gold in the face of government confiscation.

My understanding was “genuine old coins,” as:

Coins are better than bullion for they have some historical value. Their historical value could be an excuse to prevent confiscation if government simply declares that “gold is for criminals,” as they are trying to do with cash…

Another take on this comes from offshore expert Mark Nestmann, head of Phoenix, Arizona-based The Nestmann Group, who pointed out the following on The Silver Bear Cafe website some time ago:

Some coin dealers claim that numismatic (collector) coins would be exempt from any future government confiscation of gold and silver. This claim is based on the terms of Roosevelt’s 1933 emergency order, which specifically exempted “coins having recognized special value to collectors of rare and unusual coins.”

Some firms say that premiums of at least 15% over the spot price of bullion magically turn coins “numismatic.” This notion is based on a proposed federal regulation issued in 1984, but never adopted. Other dealers claim that coins 100 years or older are automatically converted to numismatic status.

It’s beyond me why anyone takes these claims seriously. Why would a government that stole its citizens’ property in 1933 be consistent when it does so again?

Nothing obliges the federal government to pay by the same set of “rules” it imposed 75 years go. Nothing obliges the federal government to honor the terms of a proposed regulation issued a quarter century ago. And naturally, those rules can change at any time

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

What Nestmann wrote has stuck with me as I keep coming across the debate over what makes a coin “numismatic.” I even stumbled on the following just the other night on the website of a company offering asset protection services:

For a coin to be numismatic, its retail price must be double the value of its metal content.

Perhaps all for naught, according to Nestmann?

An insightful piece (he does espouse positioning “some gold and silver bullion outside the United States, preferably in a safety deposit box or a private vault”), which you can read in its entirety here on The Silver Bear Cafe site. For more information about The Nestmann Group, visit their website here.

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

(Editor’s note: The mention of businesses above should not be construed as confirmation of services claimed to be provided or any sort of recommendation. A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material 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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