Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders
By Neil Chatterjee
The U.S. has promised it will hunt down tax evaders.
And it seems tax evaders are on the run.
DBS bank, based in the growing offshore financial centre of
Singapore, told Reuters it had been approached by U.S. citizens
asking for its private banking services. But when told they would
have to sign U.S. tax declaration forms, the potential clients
Swiss banks also approached DBS on the hope they could
offload troublesome U.S. clients to a location that so far has
not been reached by the strong arms of Washington or Brussels.
DBS said no thanks. In fact many private banks and boutique
advisors now seem to be avoiding U.S. clients.
Will this spread to other nationalities, as governments
invest in tax spies and tax havens invest in white paint?
Is this the end of offshore private private banking?
Even for an American who’s not wealthy, Geneva has a reputation as a global centre for wealth management – the place the world’s rich come to stash their money and (they hope) make it grow.
But you don’t necessarily expect it to be so aggressive — after all, the rich tend to be demure when it comes to their banking.
Policitians are often scared to use the “R” word, because a recession makes them unpopular. Investment bankers dislike the “R” word too, but in this case it stands for regulation.
Regulation and lots of it is being cooked up in Washington and Brussels in response to the excessive risk-taking that helped bring on the credit crisis.
Credit derivatives are in the firing line as the bad guys of the credit crisis and derivatives in energy and commodities could get caught in the cross-fire.
Oil could also take a hit after rampant speculation was blamed for driving the price to a record of nearly $150 a barrel last year.
Although the quest to get rid of excesses is driven by good intentions, industry insiders say there will be unintended consequences and argue the regulators could have underestimated the difficulty of their task.
“It’s not easy to bring back the genie into the bottle,” Libya’s top oil official Shokri Ghanem told the Reuters Global Energy Summit.