Once upon a time, offshore investment strategies were spoken of in hushed tones. They were conversations restricted to the plush offices of private Swiss bankers, or a dinner table topic in the expensive playgrounds of the multi-millionaires.
Thanks to the information explosion of the 1990s, the internet has opened up many investment possibilities that were traditionally the exclusive preserve of the billionaire boys club.
Many readers of Offshore News are new to this arena and probably confused by the barrage of information online. After all, these are shark infested waters and there are many out there who make a very good living ripping off the recent stream of naive new entrants to the offshore world.
First, you need to consider your reasons for going offshore. You need to take very careful note (and sound legal advice) of your domestic tax liabilities first. Americans for example will still be tax liable to the IRS on their investments no matter what country they are in.
Many investment funds are available only to entities located in ‘tax haven’ countries - IBCs (International Business Companies), Offshore Trusts, Offshore Foundations and the like. You will need to establish a suitable structure in a tax friendly country to gain access to some of the better opportunities available, which is reason enough to go offshore for some even ignoring the tax benefits. Again, residents of the USA in particular are not acceptable as clients in many offshore investment funds, but this can be worked around by establishing a suitable offshore company or trust.
It is most important that you do not engage any professional advisors who are ‘foreign’ to the offshore investment field. If you are your accountant or lawyer's first client ever to enquire about offshore structuring, you need to change accountants. Whilst their consultancy is charged at a premium, the large multinationals are very experienced in the field - talk to the likes of HSBC or deVere and Partners.
Be careful dealing with smaller consultant shops who may be pushing the latest ‘schemes’ like the recent ‘Son of Boss’ shelter for example. The legal expenses incurred from running afoul of the IRS or other government agencies will far outweigh the tax benefits of the latest gray area fad or tax dodge.
Be aware that as an offshore investor you must take strong measures to protect your own interests. Domestic government agencies like the SEC have no jurisdiction outside your home country, you will need to do your own due diligence on the companies you deal with and invest in, and you will need to research what legal protection is available to you in the jurisdictions concerned. Again, this will differ from what you are used to in your home country and professional advice will be necessary. Avoid any internet based company that does not have real physical contact details - street address, phone/fax, contact names. Learn how to use DNS research tools like www.betterwhois.com to learn who it is hiding behind the web site.
If you have determined that offshore investing is something you wish to pursue, Offshore News reports on the latest developments in the tax haven jurisdictions. As a general guide it is often more discrete to establish your offshore structure in a location far from your residential jurisdiction. Americans for example would be best to investigate South Pacific countries like Nauru, Vanuatu and the Cook Islands. Australians could look at Caribbean or European jurisdictions. Some tax havens have strong investor protection laws in place, others are unstable and politically volatile. It's a moving landscape best tracked by staying up to date with the latest Offshore News and via your offshore advisors.
Always work directly with the banks and investment funds you are interested in, and be wary of any advisor who suggests you should transfer the money to them so that they may place the funds discretely. Once you are happy with the safety of your investment in a particular country you need to perform thorough due diligence on the particular funds, banks and brokers you are looking at placing your funds with.
Many sound offshore advisors, banks and related companies are linked to from the Offshore News site - bookmark us and return often to stay up to date with the latest developments and resources on offshore investments and banking.
Offshore News blog posts all the latest news, articles and reports on the Offshore Banking world, including Offshore Finance, Offshore Credit Cards, Offshore Merchant Accounts, Tax Haven Companies and Offshore Investments. Visit us at http://www.offshore-income.com/