Hundreds of Russian oligarchs and politicians have been sanctioned by the US, the EU and the UK. This means that any assets owned by the sanctioned individual is frozen. They can’t sell it and the sanctioned person can’t enjoy income from the asset. Bank accounts can’t be accessed.
According to Reuters, however, governments are struggling to seize assets of sanctioned individuals. This is because they have largely kept their assets out of the EU, the US and the UK. That must be the starting point of any plan to protect your assets.
Any assets held there are owned by trusts or foundations. They may even be in the name of other trusted individuals. One European government admitted that it had seized only one bank account with a balance of €250.
It’s the turn of Russian oligarchs today for arbitrary asset seizure. In the future any of us could be the victim of government seizing our bank accounts and assets. It happens all too often already. Asset protection strategies are one of the most important things you can put in place this year.
Let’s look at a few strategies the Russian oligarchs use to protect their mansions and super yachts. You can use those same strategies to protect your assets.
Protect your assets in an Offshore Trust
The beauty of a trust or foundation is that nobody owns the assets. They are still under your control but as soon as you gift them to the trust, they are not legally yours. They can be held in trust for future generations. They can be held in trust for a charity that you set up. No beneficiaries have to be named. You can change Beneficiaries with ease.
If you’re asked to declare your assets you can deny ownership of assets held in trust. That’s why a trust or foundation is an optima strategy to protect your assets.
Put Your Assets in the Name of a Trustee
It’s rumoured that some Russian oligarchs don’t hold any assets in their own name. This can be a smart strategy to protect your assets. Provided you can trust the person who’s holding the assets on your behalf.
Fans of the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, might remember that Jordan Belfort opened a bank account with a Swiss bank. He opened it in the name of his wife’s aunt.
This kind of planning can be one of the best strategies to protect your assets.
There must be checks and balances put in place. You should make sure that you can still control the assets, irrespective of ownership. As one of the richest men in the US once said, you must own nothing but control everything.
Bank outside the West – Avoid the US, the UK and the EU
Freedom is disappearing rapidly in the western, English-speaking countries. Bank account seizures are common. Assets can be seized because wealth is unexplained. The tax authorities can dip into your bank account and help themselves to your money. It’s not sensible anymore to keep anything other than a few months expenses in the country where you live.
There are plenty of credible banks outside the west that are more secure than western banks. Your local tax collector won’t stand a chance of freezing your accounts in overseas banks. You’ll find that returns on investments are much higher overseas too.
Having overseas bank accounts outside the west is another optimal way to protect your assets.
Never Own a Property in your Own Name
Real estate can be a good investment. We all need a home to live in. The problem is its not movable. It’s an easy target for an adversary to seize. If you own property make sure its owned by a company. The company should be owned by a trust.
The property should be mortgaged to the hilt. Your own company can hold the mortgage. Make sure there’s nothing available for any hostile party to seize.
You can protect your assets by using nominee shareholders. They can hold the shares of your corporation. If nobody knows that an asset is owned by you they won’t even try to seize it. That’s why using nominee shareholders is a good method to disguise the ownership of your assets. Of course you must also have checks in place. You can have signed and undated share transfers. A nominee agreement will protects your ultimate ownership.
Keep a Substantial Portion of Your Wealth Outside the Banking System
Assets held by third parties, such as banks are never 100% safe. When you deposit money in a bank you’re making an unsecured loan to that institution. You depend on the bank being sound. You also have to rely on them keeping your information confidential. No matter the banks jurisdiction they will cave if put under pressure by governments and their regulators. That’s why it’s important to protect your assets by keeping a portion of them outside the system.
You can hold assets in gold, securely stored in offshore vaults. You can hold cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin and the new privacy coins like Monero offer added security. If you’re worried about the volatility of crypto assets and precious metals, you can hedge with options and futures.
Keep Your Affairs Confidential
Most people get caught out because they don’t keep their financial affairs private. They can’t resist the temptation to brag about their offshore wealth to girlfriends or business partners. You must learn to operate on a need-to-know basis only. Nobody should be able to run to authorities with details of your secret assets and bank accounts. Never keep paperwork from your offshore banks at home or in your office.
Keeping hold of your assets can be more difficult than earning money in the first place. Extreme care must be taken in planning your offshore structures.
It’s interesting to observe governments trying to seize assets from the Russian oligarchs.
Those who followed the principles of strong asset protection will come out intact. The ones who kept a low profile will be able to come through this period unscathed. You should aim to protect your assets in the same manner.
BulletProof Asset Protection
For an in-depth look at asset protection strategies take a look at our special report. BulletProof Asset protection outlines the latest strategies you can put in place to protect your assets and avoid arbitrary seizure.
If you’d like more information on our products and services and help to build your own personalised asset protection strategy get in touch with us here: