Asian Offshore Banking

A Lesson About Offshore Banking

As with most things, your knowledge about Offshore Banking is what you hear about, not what you actually learn in practice.

Most of the investors who create offshore bank accounts do so for privacy and reduced regulation and lower taxes or to protect their assets from lawsuits or from local political or financial instability in their home country.

An offshore bank is typically a bank located outside the home country of the depositor. Offshore bank accounts are usually located in a low tax jurisdiction providing privacy, legal and financial advantages to the depositor.

The simplest way for a non-Singapore resident to open an offshore bank account in Singapore is to use one of the banks in Singapore that has offices in your home country. If you are from the United States for example you might consider opening your offshore bank account through Citibank. The drawback to using any US or European based bank is the loss of the privacy that many considering offshore bank accounts are seeking.

US citizens considering opening an offshore account should be aware of and seek professional advice on the impact of the recently enacted HIRE Act. Set to become effective in 2012, the HIRE Act requires all foreign financial institutions (ffi’s) to report information about US accountholders and in many cases withhold 30% of accountholder’s US generated income including US source dividends, interest, salaries, rent, annuities or other fixed or determinable annual or periodic gains, profits, or income and 30% of the gross receipts from the sale of property that could produce US source interest or dividends, regardless of cost basis.

If privacy is not a primary concern, you can open an offshore account in Singapore through one of the US or European banks with offices in Singapore simply by contacting a local branch near you and having the local bank certify the necessary documents to the Singapore office.

The simplest way for a non-Singapore resident to open an offshore bank account in Singapore is to use one of the banks in Singapore that has offices in your home country. If you are from the United States for example you might consider opening your offshore bank account through Citibank. The drawback to using any US or European based bank is the loss of the privacy that many considering offshore bank accounts are seeking. Citibank or any other US or European bank will likely require the investor to provide a social security or other national identification number and sign a waiver of the Singapore privacy laws.

Singapore is one of the most desirable private banking jurisdictions in the world. Singapore’s stable and sophisticated business environment and the fact that business is conducted in English language makes offshore banking in Singapore easier than in many other locales.

To take advantage of Singapore’s strong privacy protections it is best to establish your offshore bank account with one of the asian or local banks. To do this you may have to visit Singapore or if your investment is significant you may be able to arrange for the bank to send staff to your home country to open your account or you may be able to create a legal representative for your account who will be able to manage an account and open on your behalf.

The biggest obstacle to opening an offshore bank account in Singapore has been the requirement that you physically be in Singapore or be a current customer of the bank to open an offshore account there. Today opening an offshore account in Singapore is becoming less complicated.