Kenneth Rubinstein, author of Antigua’s Asset Protection Laws, was interviewed by the Antigua Sun and explains that Antigua is still a strong Asset Protection jurisdiction.
Offshore Financial Sector At Risk As Anti-Tax Haven Laws Get Drafted
Tuesday March 10 2009
by Aarati Jagdeo, Antigua Sun
New York Attorney, Kenneth Rubinstein, stated that Antigua and Barbuda must aggressively pursue ways to repair its image before “the coming storm of anti-tax haven abuse legislation.”
Rubinstein’s firm, Rubinstein & Rubinstein LLP, drafted the Antigua International Trust Act, International Foundations Act and International LLC Act, which became law as of 17 Jan., 2009.
Rubinstein was flown down last week, as an invited expert, for a meeting with members of the Antiguan financial services group, heads of Antigua’s international banks, attorneys, accountants, trust companies, investment managers and advisors.
Speaking exclusively with the Antigua Sun, Rubinstein said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss how best to counteract the negative publicity the country has been subjected to since the onslaught of the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC)’s investigation into Antigua’s largest private investor and Chairman of Stanford International Bank Ltd., Sir R. Allen Stanford.
According to Rubinstein, all is not lost for Antigua and Barbuda’s position as a viable and credible offshore financial services centre.
Rubinstein listed his three proposed methods of damage control to the SUN.
“There are three important issues that I believe the financial services sector and the government have to deal with. 1) Counter-acting the damage to Antigua’s image as an offshore centre caused by the Stanford matter, 2) Educating the world with regard to Antigua’s new legislative advantages as an offshore centre and 3) Clarifying Antigua’s position in light of the US and European anti-tax haven initiatives that are taking place.”
In terms of anti-tax haven initiatives, US Senator, Carl Levin, along with other senators, has already drafted the “Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act”, which seeks to “stop tax cheats, who drain our treasury of funds needed to pay for our recovery.
The bill’s target is offshore tax abuses that rob the US Treasury of an estimated US$100 billion each year, reward tax dodgers using offshore secrecy laws to hide money from Uncle Sam and offload the tax burden onto the backs of middle income families who play by the rules.”
Rubinstein stated that with future legislation of this sort expected to come out of the UK, Europe and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), it is important for Antigua and Barbuda to position itself as a legitimate and respectable jurisdiction.
To combat the potential negative repercussions of anti-tax haven legislation, Rubinstein indicated that Antigua and Barduba needs to highlight its existing laws which were drafted to ensure that the offshore financial industry operated on a tax-compliant basis.
“The Swiss confidentiality act and the Antigua confidentiality act are both designed to protect the privacy and confidence of individuals’ assets from private persons or entities, not from those individuals’ governments,” Rubinstein stated.
He further pointed out that Antigua has a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with the US and a Tax Information Exchange Agreement, both of which pre-empt and take precedence over the domestic confidentiality laws in Antigua and Barbuda.
Antigua and Barbuda is not some “rogue island,” Rubinstein stated, and according to him, it would be a mistake for anyone to think otherwise.
“We are not a country to hide assets illegally, we are a country that will let you protect your assets from civil disputes, private people, companies etc., that may have claims against you, we’re not a country that is going to welcome you to come hide your assets because those assets are somehow related to criminal activity in your home country, including criminal tax fraud in your home country.”
Rubinstein stated to the SUN that offshore banking was “not going to go away.” When asked how he could be so sure, Rubinstein stated, “People will always need a safe place to put their money, to put their assets, that is removed from the jurisdiction of their home country in civil controversies.”
He continued, “In addition, there will always be a certain number of people who feel that it is good financial planning to take a certain amount of assets and keep them in a different country with a different economy.”
Rubinstein cited the increasing troubles in the US, which have caused a giant decrease in consumer confidence in the stability of US markets.
“I know many people today, who are taking assets out of the US not because of any fear of lawsuits but because of their fears of the collapse of the US economic system, collapse of the banking system and they want to have a nest-egg someplace else that is safe.
“Europe is just as bad, Asia is getting there. But you know what? An island with a stable economy that is not exposed to the sub-prime mortgage catastrophe or the credit default swap catastrophe, might be a very good place to put your money,” he continued.
In this connection, Rubinstein noted, “When clients call me and ask ‘Are Antigua banks safe today?’ my response is generally, ‘A helluva lot safer than the banks in New York.’”