El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


The cornerstone of asset protection is a legal system that protects against unauthorized disclosure of financial matters. Bank secrecy means that the law prohibits all bank employees from disclosing any information regarding customers' accounts. The best bank secrecy laws impose fines and imprisonment for violating this trust.

Protection of customer's confidentiality from 3rd parties, governments, creditors, ex-spouses, and litigants constitutes pure banking secrecy.

The "Know Your Customer" requirement now used by nearly every bank in the world to combat illegal money laundering and terrorist funding has little to do with banking secrecy. Requesting proper identification, bank reference letters from other banks verifying past good banking relations, credit history, and proof that the incoming funds are clean, are normal banking practices worldwide not involving banking secrecy.

"Transparency in Banking" is a term related to finding out who owns offshore bank accounts. Many countries worried about losing income tax monies pressured numerous European and Caribbean tax haven countries into abolishing their bank secrecy laws.

The Financial Task Force (FATF) is an international organization of 31 member nations created in 1989 for the explicit purpose of coordinating international anti-money laundering efforts. The FATF blacklisted 19 countries with strict bank secrecy laws.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is the parent organization of the FATF, threatened economic sanctions against 41 tax haven countries and successfully reduced the number of uncooperative tax haven countries to only seven.

The U.S. Treasury Department entered into tax agreements with several Caribbean countries to share financial information to curtail criminal tax evasion.

Information Exchange Agreements were signed between the U.S. Treasury Department in the early 2000's with Antigua & Barbuda, the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, and the United Kingdom (including the British Virgin Islands). Those countries are now required to provide to the U.S. information relevant to civil and criminal tax matters. These countries must provide information from their tax files and supply further requested information.

The European Union (EU) also aggressively seeks information from their tax haven members. Most of the 25 EU members agreed to exchange tax and banking information with each other with the only exceptions being Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg. This includes bank account holder's information. This pact is known as the EU Savings Directive. Gibraltar will also exchange banking information under the EU Savings Directive. Outside countries such as the Caribbean Islands of Anguilla, Aruba, the Cayman Islands, and Montserrat have agreed to this Directive.

With so many bank secrecy laws being abolished, what is left?

Let us examine what many used to consider the top 5 tax haven banking centers in the world. Bear in mind we are not ranking these countries by order of preference.

1. Bahamas
This used to be one of the top tax havens in the world! Not any more. Their once famous bank secrecy laws are now gone. Bahamas banks are permitted to divulge which customers have accounts with them. Since their banking secrecy laws were eliminated, 45% of their depositors left the Bahamas.

2. Belize
This small, former British colony only has five banks managing $164 million. Even if it is a stable country, their first "offshore" bank was created in 1998. Ten years is not much of an offshore banking history.

3. The Cayman Islands
Like the Bahamas, their bank secrecy laws are watered down.

4. Switzerland
The original bank secrecy center of the world since 1934, Switzerland abolished their famous anonymous "numbered" accounts. More and more they cooperate with foreign governments regarding tax evasion.

5. Panama
This is the most stable of all countries offering bank secrecy laws. The existence of "Bearer Shares" corporations results in the most anonymous offshore corporation system in the world with secret bank accounts. It is a crime for any bank employee to divulge bank account information or acknowledge that someone has an account to unauthorized persons or governments.

In Conclusion, Panama offers the best banking secrecy in the world with strict bank secrecy laws used by bearer share owned corporations.

Panama Offshore Legal Services are English speaking; qualified attorneys with offices in Panama City and Bocas del Toro in the Republic of Panama can assist you.

Panama Offshore Legal Services

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