Offshore corporations explained

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Offshore corporations in a changing offshore world. Alternative tax havens and offshore strategies. Offshore corporations in a changing offshore world. Alternative tax havens and offshore strategies.

How to open an offshore
company bank account

What you face today

What you face today
Opening closed doors
Your account application
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(Part 1 of 3)

Need a bank account for your new offshore company? Come prepared if you want your chosen bank to accept your money.

with Peter Widder

The vast majority of those who incorporate offshore naturally wish to open a bank account for their company sooner or later.

Once a simple task, arranging your company's banking today requires more thought and preparation than the act of incorporation itself.

Banks that would in the past compete for your business might well have you think that they are doing you a favour today. Getting your offshore company accepted as a client is no longer guaranteed.

Why? All because of two simple words that have entered into everyday speech in recent years. In isolation, each of the words is pretty ordinary -- but when put together, they become immensely powerful. They have been used to justify numerous infringements of human liberty. They provoke fear and mistrust in banks worldwide. Those two words are "money" and "laundering".

Are you a money launderer?

Because of the difficulty in distinguishing the acts of a money launderer from the acts of a law-abiding customer, bank personnel have been given little choice but to treat every prospective customer as a potential suspect.

Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin pointed out in a 1995 speech:

"The acts through which laundering occurs are, in isolation, often not only legal but commonplace -- opening bank accounts, wiring funds, and exchanging currencies in international trade. The funds employed and the launderer's motives make the activity criminal, so sorting out the launderers from the others in the bank line is not easy."

That was in 1995. Since then, bankers have seen the arrival of "Recommendations to Combat Money Laundering", internal "know your customer" guidelines, due diligence procedures, "suspicious activity indicators" and even technology that attempts to detect "unusual" account activity.

A few high-profile money laundering scandals and a glut of poorly written, sensationalist books have added to the atmosphere of what has been called "banking paranoia".

It has long been forgotten that -- as Rubin once pointed out -- it is the motive, and not the action with one's money, that defines the crime.

This state of affairs creates problems for the honest, prudent privacy seeker.


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