The government of the United Kingdom just announced that they would be applying to join the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a founding member.
The United States currently dominates the global financial system. But after years of sanctions, wars, debt, money printing and regulations, the rest of the world are looking for an alternative.
The soon-to-be-live Chinese International Payment System (CIPS) will provide a way for banks to transfer funds to one another without having to use the US banking system or the US dollar.
Shanghai by night courtesy of Wiki Commons
China is also the initiator behind both the BRICS development bank (called the New Development Bank, or NDB) as well as the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Both of these are multilateral development banks that aim to end the dominance of the western-controlled World Bank and IMF.
NDB includes all the BRICS nations– Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
Founding members of the AIIB include China, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, etc. They’re typically all rapidly growing and/or resource-rich developing nations.
New Zealand was the first western nation to join AIIB in October 2014, and Britain has just announced its intention to become the second.
The signatories to the NDB and AIIB charter documents want to create an alternative to the United States dominance of the global financial system by launching these new development banks and an alternative payment system together.
The best countries for Snowden, the following countries have extradition treaties but do not always comply with US requests: Bolivia, Ecuador, Iceland, Nicaragua, Switzerland, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.
São Tomé & Príncipe
Bosnia and Herzegovina
the Central African Republic
the Marshall Islands
Dem. Republic of the Congo
United Arab Emirates
Cote d’ Ivoire
Snowden could have taken the steps we recommend on our site and publications on the best countries to obtain a second passport, open an offshore account, and more. Internationalizing is a strategy for anyone who does not want to be under the total control of the whims of one particular government – especially one that is desperate and bankrupt.
High net worth individuals (“HNWIs“) around the world have traditionally regarded Switzerland, London and New York as the main global wealth management hubs. However, over the last 5 years, Singapore is increasingly regarded by such HNWIs as a serious alternative to these traditional centres.
In 2011, assets under management by Singapore-based managers have reached 1 trillion US dollars. This article briefly highlights the key factors making Singapore a rising jurisdiction amongst HNWIs for the setting up of trusts for their wealth management purposes.
Robust Regulatory Regime: Singapore trust law is based substantially upon English trust principles. The principal statutes governing trusts that are most relevant to the private banking and wealth management industry are the Trust Companies Act1 and the Trustees Act2.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) is the regulator of trust companies under the TCA, and supervises the complementary activities of trust services, private banking and wealth management in Singapore. The TCA imposes mandatory licensing for all corporations that carry on or hold themselves out as carrying on any “trust business”3 in Singapore. The licensed trust company is required to appoint at least two resident managers with certain minimum credentials and who must be approved by the MAS after a “fit and proper” test to ensure their suitability for the role.
Well Defined Legal Framework for Trusts: The Trustees Act was amended to facilitate and promote wealth management in Singapore through the use of trusts and trustee services. This is part of the Singapore government’s broader aim to enhance Singapore’s position as a leading financial and wealth management centre. Salient provisions of the Trustees Act include:
(a) Reservation of power permitted: Section 90(5) of the Trustees Act expressly provides that no trust or settlement of property on trust shall be invalid by reason only that the settlor reserves certain powers to himself. The powers concerned are those of investment or asset management.
(b) Promotion of Singapore trusts to foreigners: Under the Trustees Act, a person who is a non-Singapore citizen nor non-Singapore domicile is excluded from forced inheritance and succession rules, provided the trust is governed under Singapore law and the trustees must be resident in Singapore. This would allay fears by foreigners about the enforceability of such trusts in Singapore due to forced heirship rules in their home jurisdictions.
(c) Rules against perpetuities addressed: Under Section 27(2)(b) of the Trustees Act, the validity of a trust extends to 100 years unless a shorter period is specified in the trust, in order to address the rule against perpetuities for trusts.
Confidentiality: Singapore has enacted comprehensive secrecy and confidentiality provisions to the Banking Act, Chapter 19 of Singapore (“Banking Act”)4and the Trust Companies Act5 to offer protection to the personal information of banking clients and settlors and beneficiaries of trusts. That said, these secrecy laws are subject to Singapore’s commitment to assist the international community in combating against money laundering, terrorism financing and tax evasion.
Friendly Tax Environment: Singapore has a territorial tax system (only Singapore-sourced income is subject to Singapore income tax) and only taxes foreign-sourced income upon its remittance (or deemed remittance) into Singapore. Capital gains are not subject to tax in Singapore and estate duty was abolished in 2008. Singapore’s highest personal income tax rate is 20% whereas its corporate tax rate is flat at 17%. In addition, Singapore has an extensive network of double taxation agreements with over 70 jurisdictions. Qualifying Foreign Trusts (“QFTs”), which are trusts created in writing where the settlor and beneficiaries are neither citizens nor residents of Singapore or are foreign companies, enjoy attractive tax exemptions. To enjoy the tax exemption, the QFT must be administered by a Singapore licensed trust company.
Open Economy and Sound Economic Policies: Singapore’s greatest competitive advantage is the openness of its economy. It has been regularly rated as one of the world’s freest economy, and easiest jurisdiction to carry on business by the World Bank. There is no exchange control, and the exchange rate of the Singapore dollar is managed by MAS, against a basket of currencies of its main trading partners, with the objective of keeping inflation low and maintaining the purchasing power of the Singapore dollar. Global financial institutions (including private bankers) and fund managers are attracted to Singapore due to its competitive tax incentives for the financial and wealth management industry.
The wealth management industry in Singapore continues to be in an exciting phase of growth, notwithstanding current global economic uncertainties. Singapore has set its sights on attracting the world’s wealthiest to its shores. With its open economy, well-defined legal and regulatory framework, and tax neutrality, Singapore is well positioned to be the premier wealth management hub in Asia, acting as the gateway for the world to tap Asian investments and to the world for Asian investors.
3 “Trust business” is defined widely to include acting as trustee for an express trust, administering an express trust, creating an express trust, and arranging for any person to act as a trustee for an express trust.
4 Under Section 47 of the Banking Act, a blanket prohibition exists against disclosure of “customer information” by a bank (or any of its officers) to any other person except as expressly provided in the Banking Act.
5 Similar provision prohibits disclosure of information regarding a “protected party” (which is defined as, in relation to a trust company, a trust for which the trust company provides trust business services and includes the settlor and beneficiary under the trust) by a licensed trust company (or any of its officers) to any other person, except as expressly provided in the TCA.
The Isle of Man already shares information automatically on personal savings income with the UK and other European Union countries, having been the first non-EU jurisdiction to make a public commitment to this under the EU Savings Directive in June 2009. The Island was also the first to commit, in December last year, to the FATCA-style agreement with the UK extending the scope of automatic disclosure to include, for example, companies and trusts.
The Chief Minister said: “In signing this historic agreement with the United Kingdom we are underlining the message to our neighbors and the wider world that our Island is a responsible center for top quality international business.
“The Isle of Man was the first to strike this agreement with the UK and we are now the first to sign, demonstrating the clear commitment of both countries to the development of a new global standard in automatic exchange.”
Mr Bell added: “Today’s signing is a significant step towards that global standard and further proof that the tax haven moniker in relation to the Isle of Man is well and truly dead, as David Cameron recognized recently in the House of Commons.”
He went on: “The Isle of Man is a forward looking country with a diverse, dynamic economy and a track record of leading the way in the field of international tax co-operation.”
“We have a long-established policy of complying with global standards, and we saw some time ago that enhanced automatic exchange of information on the FATCA model was becoming the new global standard in tax transparency.”
The Government has formulated an overall strategic framework for promoting Hong Kong as a premier intellectual property (IP) trading hub in the region.
As determined by a working group, which conducted many rounds of stakeholder consultation over the past few months, Hong Kong’s overall strategy on IP trading encompasses four strategic areas – “namely, enhancing its IP protection regime; supporting IP creation and exploitation; fostering IP intermediary services and manpower capacity; and pursuing promotion, education and external collaboration efforts.”
The working group will, in 2014, explore specific policies and other support measures under each strategic area for promoting Hong Kong as a regional IP trading hub. In the meantime, two sub-groups formed under the working group will continue to deliberate on ways to spearhead further developments in certain specific areas, focusing particularly on the more specialized subjects of IP valuation, and IP arbitration and mediation.
Some of the initiatives under way and in the pipeline include the setting up of the Original Grant Patent system as a strategic step to help Hong Kong develop as an innovation and technology hub; a review of copyright to strike a balance between its protection and the freedom of expression; and the launch by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council of an online IP trading portal in January 2014 to enhance Hong Kong’s online IP trading volume, capabilities and connections.
A survey on IP trading and manpower in Hong Kong will also be conducted in 2014 to provide statistical and other relevant information to support the working group’s further deliberations.