Investors Europe is a Mauritius execution-only stock broker providing institutions, professionals and individuals online trading acess to global stock markets via the privacy of nominee trading accounts. The Investors Europe Group of companies was founded in the EU in 2001, in the Jurisdiction of Gibraltar, and expanded the scope of its activities to Mauritius in January 2013 when it was Licensed by the Mauritius Financial Services Commission.
By design, Investors Europe is an execution-only stock broker so that it can never have a conflict of interest with its clients. It thereby offers the very highest levels of client protection possible because, in addition, it holds MiFID designated client portfolios in segregated, individually margined trading accounts in the UK rather than in the euro area. The Board of Directors of Investors Europe believes that the UK offers the highest levels of overall protection to underlying clients under the UK's Investor Protection Scheme than would be the case with euro area countries, post Cyprus. When this advantage is allied to nominee trading accounts, it is a winner for all our clients.
Simply put, the company believes that its regulatory model is a regulatory benchmark for the protection of clients because there cannever be a conflict between its own interests and those of its clients.
It’s an amazingly powerful weapon that only the US government can wield—kicking anyone it doesn’t like out of the world’s US-dollar-based financial system.
It’s a weapon foreign banks fear. A sound institution can be rendered insolvent at the flip of a switch that the US government controls. It would be akin to an economic kiss of death. When applied to entire countries—such as the case with Iran—it’s like a nuclear attack on the country’s financial system.
That is because, thanks to the petrodollar regime, the US dollar is still the world’s reserve currency, and that indirectly gives the US a chokehold on international trade.
For example, if a company in Italy wants to buy products made in India, the Indian seller probably will want to be paid in US dollars. So the company in Italy first needs to purchase those dollars on the foreign exchange market. But it can’t do so without involving a bank that is permitted to operate in the US. And no such bank will cooperate if it finds that the Italian company is on any of Washington’s bad-boy lists.
The US dollar may be just a facilitator for an international transaction unrelated to any product or service tied to the US, but it’s a facilitator most buyers and sellers in world markets want to use. Thus Uncle Sam’s ability to say “no dollars for you” gives it tremendous leverage to pressure other countries.
The BRICS countries have been trying to move toward a more multipolar international financial system, but it’s an arduous process. Any weakening of the US government’s ability to use the dollar as a stick to compel compliance is likely years away.
When the time comes, no country will care about losing access to the US financial system any more than it would worry today about being shut out of the peso-based Mexican financial system. But for a while yet, losing Uncle Sam’s blessing still can be an economic kiss of death, as the recent experience of Banca Privada d’Andorra shows.
Andorra, a Peculiar Country Without a Central Bank
The Principality of Andorra is a tiny jurisdiction sandwiched between Spain and France in the eastern Pyrenees mountains. It hasn’t joined the EU and thus is not burdened by every edict passed down in Brussels. However, as a matter of practice, the euro is in general use. Interestingly, the country does not have a central bank.
Andorra is a renowned offshore banking jurisdiction. Banking is the country’s second-biggest source of income, after tourism. Its five banks had made names for themselves by being particularly well capitalized, welcoming to nonresidents (even Americans), and willing to work with offshore companies andinternational trusts.
One Andorran bank that had been recommended prominently by others (but not by International Man) is Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA).
Recently BPA received the financial kiss of death from FinCEN, the US Treasury Department’s financial crimes bureau. FinCEN accused BPA of laundering money for individuals in Russia, China, and Venezuela—interestingly, all geopolitical rivals of the US.
Never mind that unlike murder, robbery and rape, money laundering is a victimless, make-believe crime invented by US politicians.
But let’s set that argument aside and assume that money laundering is indeed a real crime. While FinCEN seems to enjoy pointing the money-laundering finger here and there, it never mentions that New York and London are among of the busiest money laundering centers in the world, which underscores the political, not criminal, nature of their accusations.
And that’s all it takes, a mere accusation from FinCEN to shatter the reputation of a foreign bank and the confidence of its depositors.
The foreign bank has little recourse. There is no adjudication to determine whether the accusation has any merit nor is there any opportunity for the bank to make a defense to stop the damage to its reputation.
And not even the most solvent foreign banks—such as BPA—are immune.
Shortly after FinCEN made its accusation public, BPA’s global correspondent accounts—which allow it to conduct international transactions—were closed. No other bank wants to risk Washington’s ire by doing business with a blacklisted institution. BPA was effectively banned from the international financial system.
This predictably led to an evaporation of confidence by BPA’s depositors. To prevent a run on the bank, the Andorran government took BPA under its administration and imposed a €2,500 per week withdrawal limit on depositors.
However, it’s not just BPA that is feeling the results of Washington’s displeasure. FinCEN’s accusation against BPA is sending a shockwave that is shaking Andorra to its core.
The ordeal has led S&P to downgrade Andorra’s credit rating, noting that “The risk profile of Andorra’s financial sector, which is large relative to the size of the domestic economy, has increased beyond our expectations.”
For comparison, BPA’s assets amount to €3 billion, and the Andorran government’s annual budget is only €400 million. There is no way the government could bail out BPA even if it wanted to.
The last time there was a banking crisis in a European country with an oversized financial sector, many depositors were blindsided with a bail-in and lost most, or in some cases, all of their money over €100,000.
While the damage to BPA’s customers appears to be contained for the moment, it remains to be seen whether Andorra turns into the next Cyprus.
BPA is hardly the only example of a US government attack on a foreign bank. In a similar fashion in 2013, the US effectively shut down Bank Wegelin, Switzerland’s oldest bank, which, like BPA, operated without branches in the US.
To appreciate the brazen overreach that has become routine for FinCEN, it helps to examine matters from an alternative perspective.
Imagine that China was the world’s dominant financial power instead of the US and it had the power to enforce its will and trample over the sovereignty of other countries. Imagine bureaucrats in Beijing having the power to effectively shut down any bank in the world. Imagine those same bureaucrats accusing BNY Mellon (Bank of New York is the oldest bank in the US) of breaking some Chinese financial law and cutting it off from the international financial system, causing a crisis of confidence and effectively shuttering it.
In a world of fiat currencies and fractional reserve banking, that is a power—a financial weapon—that the steward of the international financial system wields.
Currently, that steward is the US. It remains to be seen whether or not the BRICS will learn to be just as overbearing once their parallel international financial system is up and running.
In any case, the new system will give the world an alternative, and that will be a good thing.
But regardless of what the international financial system is going to look like, you should take action now to protect yourself from getting caught in the crossfire when financial weapons are going off.
Yesterday, the IRS announced the International Data Exchange Service.
If you’ve not heard of it, it’s is an outgrowth of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which requires every single bank in the world to get in bed with IRS to share information about customers.
We’ve said this over and over, FATCA is probably the dumbest law in the history of the United States. And I don’t say that lightly, because there’s definitely stiff competition.
Like any other bankrupt government, the US government has taken to intimidating its own citizens and the entire world in an attempt to make ends meet.
Their hope was that the minority of people committing tax evasion would come clean and that it would result in some huge boost in tax revenue.
But the fact is that tax revenues actually haven’t improved at all.
Looking at tax revenue as a percentage of GDP, the numbers haven’t budged at all from their long-term average. Not a single bit.
So in actuality, FATCA has done nothing positive for America.
That said, FATCA has managed to destroy what little remaining credibility the United States government still had.
Bear in mind these people have spied on their allies, dropped bombs by remote control, and force fed people negative real interest rates and $18 trillion in debt.
But if that weren’t enough, FATCA goes after foreigners with absurd logistical challenges, commanding every single bank on the planet to comply.
Here’s the ultimate irony: there are nations in this world that are not recognized by the United States. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Abkhazia. Etc. Yet banks in these regions still have to sign up with the IRS.
It’s like— you don’t exist. But you must still comply.
The IRS tells us that so far more than 145,000 financial institutions have already signed information-sharing agreements.
Now with yesterday’s launch of IDES they have an online platform to invade customer privacy at every one of those banks. This is a terrible trend.
I was talking to Jim Rickards the other day, author of both Currency Wars and The Death of Money (both excellent books).
He was telling me how decades ago he could ring up a bank and open an account over the phone in just a matter of minutes.
Now, because all these governments are bankrupt, banks have become unpaid financial spies required to treat customers as if we’re criminal terrorists.
The lifeblood of capitalism is capital, and banks are supposed to be the responsible stewards of our capital.
So by obstructing the ability of banks to engage in commerce, the US government is grinding down the pitiful remains of global capitalism down to the mere punch line.
This has consequences.
Perhaps more importantly, and the reason we think FATCA is the dumbest or at least the most destructive law in US history, is that it provides an enormous incentive for the rest of the world to simply avoid dealing with the United States.
There’s no bank on the planet that likes FATCA.
The only reason they comply is because the US has a nuclear option: sign up for FATCA or else we’ll withhold 30% of all transfers that go through the United States.
This is a big deal for banks.
Since the US dollar is the world’s dominant reserve currency, the majority of global transactions are denominated in US dollars and cleared through the US banking system.
This makes the US banking system critical to global finance. And it has long been a major advantage to the United States.
You would think that a government entrusted with such an awesome responsibility, from which it has benefitted for decades, would treat this advantage with dignity and care.
But no. Instead, the US government has turned its banking system into a weapon with which it threatens the entire world.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the rest of the world is one day going to create its own alternative system. One that would no longer rely on the US dollar.
Oh wait— they’re already doing that.
With FATCA, the US has shot itself in the proverbial foot. They’re practically begging the world to please take away its last remaining financial advantage.
The U.S. Treasury lists the countries and territories that have signed FATCA IGA’s or where they are pending, but it is no surprise that they do not go out of their way to tell you about the countries without such agreements. In non-IGA countries, some banks have registered and received a GIIN, and you can find these on the IRS website, but they also don’t go out of their way to list banks that have not registered and will choose not to comply with FATCA. Here is a place to start. Be sure to check this against the respective federal websites, because some of the countries are not in their proper alphabetical spot on the lists. The table below lists United Nations members, except of course for the United States of America itself.
Central banks of issue are generally exempt from FATCA, as governmental institutions. This allows for a private or commercial non-FATCA bank (non-participating FFI) to clear checks through the central bank.
Note: A pending agreement is not a done deal, and may be penned by government officials with no more authority to allow disclosure than the U.S. Treasury has. Congress will not likely authorize reciprocal exchange and some of the countries with pending IGA’s probably won’t either. ..'
Investors Europe Stock Brokers's insight:
'Bankers in non-IGA countries consider this: You register with IRS and obtain a GIIN, which makes you deemed compliant. Now you have time to dump all your U.S.-based investments, free of the 30% withholding tax. When the day comes to provide the data, it is against the laws of your country to do so. It is as if I make a deal with you whereby you pay me a thousand dollars today and I agree to deliver a bag of cocaine to you on a future date, but they still have not legalized cocaine yet, so the deal is illegal. This is not a breach of contract, it is illegality of performance.
Now, the governments in IGA countries need to understand that the IGA is an “agreement” and cannot have any force contrary to your laws, and your statutes cannot have any force contrary to your ...'
RT @aClassicLiberal: Foreign institutions are using it to extort higher fees: "Who's afraid of FATCA?" http://t.co/wN0XDEokty @FATCA_Fallou…
Investors Europe Stock Brokers's insight:
So FATCA will cost BILLIONS to end clients so the US can control its own citizens abroad. The NSA will be piggy backing the effort as well. It's ALL wrong. Rest of the world pays for the US to create yet another billion dollar bureaucracy with jobs for life. US Gun Boat Diplomacy 2014. Ashamed to admit that this is probably worse than Octoputin is doing in Ukraine.
The Cayman Islands Tax Information Authority has launched an online portal to allow local financial institutions to report information required under the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
Investors Europe Stock Brokers's insight:
While many jurisdictions have removed the requirement for submission of a nil return in the event there are no reportable accounts, the Cayman Islands still require the submission of a nil report. This means that all Cayman Islands institutions must file a report regardless of whether its clients have ties with America.
Hong Kong on Thursday signed an agreement with the U.S. to exchange information to combat offshore tax evasion under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has confirmed.
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