10 Most Common Myths About Offshore Banking

As offshore banking becomes more and more popular and available there is still a number of issues leading to misunderstanding of the real situation. What you may think about offshore banking that in reality is not true, read about it below.

  1. Offshore banking is for criminals. NO. In fact offshore banks are safeguarding funds and assets of honest depositors and investors, for example, from unfair regulation and taxation as well as many kinds of strife in their home countries. Apparently there are some illicit funds deposited in tax haven jurisdictions but they constitute a small percent indeed of total criminal proceeds originating from and within the high-tax jurisdictions. More than that, banking secrecy is not working when it comes to illegal activities. Even banking offshore in Switzerland will not protect anyone suspected of money laundering.
  2. Offshore banking is for tax evasion. NO. Though one may think of using an offshore bank account for tax evasion, the main reasons for using it are tax planning and asset protection.
  3. To have a bank account offshore you need lots of money. NO. Surely there exist many banks of mainly investment profile looking for deposits starting with US$100,000 or equivalent. But a significant number of smaller banks are still interested in a regular middle class customer and their initial deposit requirements may start with US$1,000 or less. As it often happens more expensive is not the best. It’s always possible to find an option at one’s needs.
  4. Offshore banks are located in remote regions thus making it difficult to manage the account. NO. While many offshore jurisdictions are indeed small islands in the ocean, in the age of rapid technological progress physical location of the bank doesn’t much matter. It’s never a problem to deposit, transact and invest your funds using well-thought, reliable and secure internet-banking software supported by offshore banks. And it’s same easy and widespread to have a debit card to access your funds in cash at any ATM point worldwide.
  5. You have to visit the bank personally to open an account. NO. Most offshore banks oriented to non-resident clients have developed procedures for remote opening of account. You don’t need to appear personally and undertake this sometimes quite expensive travel. However you will be required to provide an extra number of certified documents to prove your identity.
  6. Offshore banking is tax-free. Not exactly. In most cases it’s free of local taxation of the bank’s jurisdiction. But remember that many high tax countries tax worldwide income of their citizens. We advise you to check and comply with tax legislation of the countries where you are considered a resident for tax purposes.
  7. Offshore banks open anonymous numbered accounts. NO. Whatever account name or number you are assigned is, you will not remain anonymous to the bank.
  8. It’s not safe to have account with an offshore subsidiary of a bank having global presence because it can give out information on the clients to the parent bank located for example in your home country. NO. A subsidiary banking institution in offshore is a separate legal entity subject to another jurisdiction banking law, keeping confidentiality of its depositors and not passing any information to the parent bank. Violations are punishable by prison terms.
  9. Poor regulation of banking institutions in an offshore jurisdiction is better for business since it loosens requirements to account holders, gives them more freedom and confidentiality. NO. There is a small minority of such poorly organized jurisdictions and they are subject to a particular attention on behalf of FATF and other authorities fighting against the money laundering. Thus it may turn out to be worse for your business.
  10. Offshore bank accounts are illegal. NO. There are may be few countries in the world prohibiting its citizens to have accounts abroad. Most countries will require you to report your offshore assets to your home authorities. In some countries you don’t need to do even that. You can check this in advance with your lawyer or international offshore advisor.