Offshore Investing

Why The Time Has Come To Go Offshore

Putting your money into foreign real estate is becoming a more appealing strategy all the time. Thanks to a crazy piece of pork in the recently passed U.S. HIRE Act, currency controls in that country have been seriously tightened.


You know, of course, that you have to report any financial accounts you hold outside the United States with a value of more than US$10,000. Now, though, foreign financial institutions are required to report on the investment activities of U.S. citizens.

It’s been increasingly difficult for some time for an American to open an international account abroad, and Switzerland recently has taken the position that it doesn’t want to do business with Americans, period. Not worth the hassle.

Options for Americans to protect their assets abroad are going to continue to disappear. If you aren’t already holding a sizeable portion of your assets outside your home country, I strongly recommend that you make this a priority agenda.

A portfolio of international real estate holdings should be an important part of your strategy. First, if you’re an American, it is one of two assets you can hold offshore without triggering a reporting requirement to Uncle Sam (the other is gold). The real estate you hold in another country is your own business.

Plus, it’s unseizable. How is the IRS going to take your condo in the Philippines?

When Lief and I left the States more than a dozen years ago, we made the conscious decision that we would remain fully compliant from a U.S. reporting and tax point of view. We did not and do not want to do anything we shouldn’t do, certainly nothing outside the law.

And that’s not what I’m suggesting to you. What I am suggesting is that it just makes sense to take advantage of every opportunity available to you to protect the money you’ve earned and the assets you’ve accumulated. And holding some of your wealth in international real estate is an excellent way to accomplish that.

You don’t have to be super rich to take up the idea of buying real estate overseas to protect your wealth. Opportunities to buy land, houses, and apartments, for both investment and personal use, exist at all price levels.

And a portfolio of foreign real estate is but one option available to you if you’re interested in diversifying your assets into safe havens. Other “going offshore” strategies include trusts, foundations, international life insurance, and owning a foreign bank account. These are all legal ways for you to build a wall around your assets.

In many ways, especially for Americans right now, the noose is tightening. However, I say again, you have interesting (and completely legal) options for slipping out.

As I mentioned, thanks to hassle from the U.S. government to provide details of U.S. account-holders, Swiss bankers have taken the stance that they no longer want to do business with U.S. clients. Practically speaking, it is not possible today for an American to open a bank account in Switzerland.

But high-profile jurisdictions like Switzerland are only one option. In the current climate, being low profile has big advantages. Our favorite offshore jurisdiction, for this reason precisely, is Belize. At our preferred Belize bank, you can open an account with as little as US$500. And you don’t even have to be in Belize to do it. Unlike Panama, which requires that you be in the bank to file the appropriate paperwork associated with opening a new account, the process of opening an account in Belize can be handled long-distance.

Because I believe that the time to take action is upon us and because I recognize that there exist around the world right now a number of appealing opportunities to that end, I’ve been working with colleagues and contacts in this arena to organize what we’re calling the Emergency Offshore Summit.

The agenda is straightforward: To outline, over the course of two high-powered days, the most appealing current strategies available for anyone interested in protecting what’s his (or hers), in diversifying assets (in terms of jurisdiction, currency, and type), and in developing a strategy that supports both long-term growth and privacy.

What do you need to know to invest, bank, do business, and secure your assets offshore safely and effectively? I’ve invited the most experienced and savvy offshore advisors and experts I know to convene for two days this December in Panama City to help you devise a complete, current (and, again, compliant!) response to that question.

Kathleen Peddicord