Tag Archives: HSBC

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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Martin Armstrong: ‘Anything Of Value That Is Stored In A Safe-Deposit Box Is Now Considered Money Laundering’

Martin Armstrong, economist at Armstrong Economics and the subject of the 2014 documentary The Forecaster, 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)?

Armstrong didn’t elaborate in his June 3 post, but back on March 29 I discussed how he thinks government will deal with precious metals. From that post:

On March 14, Armstrong talked more on this subject. He blogged:

Government will make transactions in gold or silver illegal and equivalent to money laundering. These people are not about to let anything circumvent their dreams…

The likelihood that you will be able to travel with gold is about zero. The likelihood that you will be able to go to the local grocery store and buy food with silver or gold coins is also zero. The more probable outcome is that this will provide a hedge against government to make the transition to the next monetary system. These people are fighting for dominance over society. Do you really think it will be that easy that everyone will be using gold and silver coins? They will not go down without a fight and the first blood draw will be on our side — not theirs.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I added:

If events unfold like Mr. Armstrong predicts they will, geographical diversification of precious metals in the physical form- particularly gold- in an offshore safe deposit box could prove to be a wise financial decision.

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. “Hunt for Taxes: Safe-Deposit Boxes Under Attack.” ArmstrongEconomics.com. 3 June 2016. (https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/world-news/taxes/safe-deposit-boxes-under-attack-hunting-for-money/). 6 June 2016.

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HSBC Implements Controversial New Rules For Its Hong Kong Safe Deposit Boxes

Here’s a story I came across on the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) website over the holiday weekend that might interest readers. Cannix Yau reported Sunday night:

A barrister has accused HSBC of trampling on the concept of personal privacy by demanding the power to snoop on customers’ safe deposit boxes and dump “offensive” items.

According to a letter sent to clients last month, a copy of which was obtained by the Post, the bank said that under new conditions of its leases for the lockers it had the right to dispose of any items it considered illegal, of an “offensive” nature or likely to be a “nuisance”, in any way it saw fit and without prior notice or consent.

The letter did not clarify what HSBC meant by “offensive” or “nuisance”, and did not explain under what circumstances bank staff would be able to inspect the boxes

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Financial crime-fighting on the part of HSBC? Or the next volley in the so-called “War on Cash”?

I’m not going to steal Yau’s thunder here, so head on over to the SCMP website to read her entire article. It’s a good one.

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

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New York City Bank Safe Deposit Boxes Robbed Yet Again

On April 13, I blogged about safe deposit boxes in an HSBC bank branch in Borough Park, Brooklyn, New York City, being robbed. In that post, I added:

I wouldn’t go so far as to say New York City is suffering an epidemic of bank safe deposit box robberies, but regular readers of Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes may recall that back on January 22, 2015, I blogged about a Christmas Day robbery of safe deposit boxes at a Flushing Bank branch in Bayside, Queens. And on April 2, 2015, I wrote about another heist of these secured containers that took place around March 28-29 at a Santander Bank branch in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

Now I’ve gotten word of yet another heist of safe deposit boxes from a New York City bank. Arielle Dollinger and Sarah Maslin Nir reported on the website of The New York Times Monday:

Workers arrived at Maspeth Federal Savings Bank on Monday only to discover that several dozen safe deposit boxes were missing.

They did not have to look far to find them.

When the police arrived at the bank branch in Rego Park, Queens, they found the boxes piled on the roof, next to a wide hole through which, it appeared, thieves had broken into the vault over the weekend.

The full extent of the theft remained unclear; the vault held not only safe deposit boxes but also teller’s cash, the bank said in a statement on Monday evening. The branch is expected to remain closed for several days, the statement said, and the bank will “keep our customers informed as to whether or not their safe deposit boxes were affected by the burglary.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“NYC Bank Burglary Through Roof Is Latest In Heist By ‘Pros,’ Police Say”
YouTube Video

Shirley Chan and Dan Mannarino added on the website of New York City’s PIX11 (WPIX-TV Channel 11) Tuesday:

Well-organized and experienced thieves stole a ladder from a nearby home to get onto the roof then constructed a wooden box to hide themselves while boring a hole in the ceiling of the bank, police said. That hole led right into the vault where the safety deposit boxes were kept.

None of this was caught on video, police said, because the culprits cut the wires to surveillance cameras before they began.

The robbery is similar to a heist that happened at a Brooklyn bank in April. In that case, thieves climbed a roof and cut a hole in it, robbing the bank of nearly $300,000. They were never caught.

Police have not said if the two are related but said they are tracking 10 similar burglaries dating back to 2011.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“10 similar burglaries dating back to 2011.” Sounds like this could be an epidemic.

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

Sources:

Dollinger, Arielle and Nir, Sarah Maslin. “Thieves Ransack Queens Bank Vault, Leaving Many Deposit Boxes on Roof.” The New York Times. 23 May 2016. (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/24/nyregion/queens-bank-heist-leaves-dozens-of-deposit-boxes-on-roof.html?_r=0). 25 May 2016.

Chan, Shirley and Mannarino, Dan. “Customers still waiting to see if they were robbed in Queens bank heist.” PIX11. 23 May 2016. (http://pix11.com/2016/05/24/customers-still-waiting-to-see-if-they-were-robbed-in-queens-bank-heist/). 24 May 2016.

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New York City Bank Safe Deposit Boxes Robbed Again

Bank safe deposit boxes in New York City have fallen victim to theft once again. Natalie O’Neill, Daniel Prendergast, and Jamie Schram reported on the New York Post website Monday:

A thief waited until most of Borough Park was home for the Sabbath and then climbed through a rooftop hatch into a local bank and made off with $280,000 in cash along with safe-deposit items, police sources said Monday.

The crook pulled off the daring heist at an HSBC branch on 13th Avenue and 44th Street — the heart of Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community — on Friday night or Saturday morning, according to police.

The burglar appeared to have cut holes in a chain-link fence near the building’s rear, climbed a ladder to the roof and slipped in through a ceiling hatch, police sources said.

Once inside, the thief cut a hole in the top of a nearby vault before swiping safe deposit boxes full of customers’ jewelry and other valuables, law-enforcement sources said.

The bandit burrowed through the ceiling to reach the vaulted area…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I wouldn’t go so far as to say New York City is suffering an epidemic of bank safe deposit box robberies, but regular readers of Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes may recall that back on January 22, 2015, I blogged about a Christmas Day robbery of safe deposit boxes at a Flushing Bank branch in Bayside, Queens. And on April 2, 2015, I wrote about another heist of these secured containers that took place around March 28-29 at a Santander Bank branch in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

Once again, as I observed back in January 2015:

A couple of things to take away here:

1. Like I said in the intro, bank safe deposit boxes aren’t necessarily more safe than private, non-bank safe deposit boxes. That goes for the U.S. and overseas. Remember when I blogged about that bank in Germany that was blown up recently?

2. Got insurance? Here in the United States, “The contents of a safe deposit box are not insured by the FDIC.” That’s straight from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s website. Make sure the contents of your offshore safe deposit box are insured.

3. All vault operators should strive to protect their customer’s valuables to the best of their abilities. As the global financial system’s health gets worse, the criminal element will be sizing up these facilities for a big score. What was it the retired Irish footballer Roy Keane liked to say?

“Fail to prepare. Prepare to fail.”

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

Source:

O’Neill, Natalie, Prendergast, Daniel and Schram, Jamie. “Thief steals $280K from bank after climbing through roof hatch.” New York Post. 11 Apr. 2016. (http://nypost.com/2016/04/11/thieves-steal-280k-from-bank-after-cutting-hole-in-roof/). 12 Apr. 2016.

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