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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Related Reading: Harrods Safe Deposit Article On The Huffington Post Website

While putting together the list of offshore private vaults offering safe deposit boxes/lockers for this blog’s sister site, I learned that two of the best-known department stores in the world- Harrods and Selfridges in London, England- provided this service.

Yesterday, The Huffington Post website published a piece about Harrods Safe Deposit, which opened in 1896 and according to the store’s website:

…is a fully secure safe and strong room facility that guarantees complete safety and confidentiality. Personal safes can be rented at a yearly flat rate, from a small box right up to whole strong room.

Michael Levin wrote Wednesday in “What You Don’t Know About Harrods (But The Rich And Famous Do)”:

One of the most unique services the store offers is most likely unknown to all but a few of its shoppers.

I’m talking about the Safe Deposit at basement level where, since the current building’s creation in 1897, customers have kept safe deposit boxes and “strong rooms” where they keep money, collectibles, art, antiques, and other valuables as safe as in any bank.

The clientele for the service includes royals from around the world, VIPs, celebrities, movie stars, and the ultra-rich who have often passed their Harrods safe deposit boxes and strong rooms from one generation to the next…

Levin went on to talk about that private vault’s construction, it’s history, modern-day operations, and the head of the Safe Deposit Gary Parkins, who is set to retire in 2017 after forty years of service to Harrods (congratulations Mr. Parkins!)

An interesting piece, which you can read in its entirety here on The Huffington Post website. And for more information about Harrods Safe Deposit, head to its web page here.

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

(Editor’s note: The mention of entities marketing themselves as private vaults outside the U.S. offering safe deposit boxes/lockers at a minimum 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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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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Next Degussa Numis Day To Take Place February 23, 24

Speaking of numismatics this morning, Degussa, a leading international player in the precious metals world which also offers safe deposit boxes (for customers) at branches in Germany, Singapore, Spain, and Switzerland, has posted information about the next Numis Day (first blogged about here) at their Geneva and Zurich showrooms. From their website:

The Next Numis Day

We appreciate and appraise your treasures- in Zurich and in Geneva

Coins tell of great civilisations; they bring history to life. And they are of enduring value. Do you wish to put a lovingly curated collection or individual items in the best of hands while benefiting from the extensive expertise of a renowned precious metals trading house? Then you have come to the right place. A simple phone call is all it takes to arrange an appointment at our next Numis day.

Location:
In our showroom in Quai du Mont-Blanc 5 in Geneva
Date:
On February 23, 2017 from 9 am to 5 pm.

Location:
In our showroom in Bleicherweg 41 in Zurich
Date:
On February 24, 2017 from 9 am to 5 pm.

We provide comprehensive advisory service.

Our coin expert Robert Eberlein will be there all day to evaluate your pieces and give you tips. He looks forward to discussing the finer points of numismatics with you.

You can rely on us to provide a fair market value determination, and, on top of that, to offer other marketing options: If you wish, you can sell directly to us at a fair price on Numis Day. Or we can consult with you and jointly determine the best marketplaces for your special treasures, for example, international coin auctions or prestigious Internet platforms.

Are you interested in coins as an investment? If so, our experts will also be happy to advise you on Numis Day. Numismatists have been collecting historical coins for centuries, and the popularity of this pursuit has not waned. If you wish, we can also represent you at auctions worldwide.

Do you wish to sell old gold?

Numis Day is all about historic coins.

Please arrange a separate appointment with us if you wish to evaluate and sell gold jewellery, old gold or silver.

For more information about Degussa’s next Numis Day or the company, visit their website here.

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

(Editor’s note: The mention of entities marketing themselves as private vaults outside the U.S. offering safe deposit boxes/lockers at a minimum 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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Related Reading: Precious Metals, Collectible Coins Have Shined In The New Millenium

Just recently, I brought up a MarketWatch piece that focused on rare coins as investments. Collectible coins are often placed in safe deposit boxes for safekeeping.

Today, I want to point out a February 2 article on the website of Numismatic News that analyzed the performance of precious metals against U.S. stocks from the end of 1999 to the last day of 2016. Pat Heller reported:

While much attention is now focused on U.S. stock indices reaching record levels, only a handful of people are aware that precious metals, on average, have outperformed U.S. stocks since the end of 1999.

As measured in U.S. dollars, here are how various asset classes have performed from Dec. 31, 1999, to Dec. 30, 2016

Gold +299.0%
Silver +193.5%
Russell 2000 +168.9%
MS-63 $20 Saint-Gaudens +147.9%
MS-63 $20 Liberty +139.8%
Platinum +111.5%
Dow Jones Industrial Average +71.9%
Switzerland Franc +56.4%
MS-65 Morgan dollar +54.4%
Palladium +54.1%
Standard & Poors 500 +52.4%
NASDAQ +32.3%
China yuan +19.2%
Australia dollar +9.8%
Canada dollar +8.2%
Euro +4.5%
Japan yen -12.7%
Great Britain pound -23.6%
Brazil real -44.3%
Mexico peso -54.3%
South Africa rand -55.0%…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Note the performance of numismatic coins ($20 Saint-Gaudens, $20 Liberty, Morgan dollar) in that list.

An interesting article, which you can read in its entirety over on the Numismatic News 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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