Presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney touts as the principal reason why he should be our next Chief Executive that he is a successful business man and that he knows how to “turn this economy around”. Never mind that he has been willfully and consistently non-specific about just how he would do this, there is one aspect of his methodology that consistently characterizes it, i.e., secrecy. His personal finances, except for one year’s tax returns and an outline of another’s, remain secret, but it was only because of that one year’s voluminous return that we know about his offshore financial accounts. What we do not know, yet anyway, is why he needs such accounts.
Do you own an offshore company or an offshore bank account? I’m guessing not. Me neither. In fact, except for my interest in politics it wouldn’t even have occurred to me to look into it. However, as luck would have it I came across a Planet Money podcast this morning that explained how to get them in clear layman’s terms. It turns out, dear readers, that it isn’t all that hard or expensive, and obtaining them is a surprisingly popular activity nowadays.
A couple of enterprising young people are doing investigative reporting on the matter and the project is ongoing. I invite you to tune in and follow along. Allow me to list some questions to which, if you invest a half hour or so of your time, you will know the answers.
- How hard is it to create and register your very own offshore company?
- How long does it take?
- Once registered, how does one get a corresponding offshore bank account in that company’s name?
- Is it legal to do this?
- In what countries can one do such registration?
- What percent of GDP for the country of Belize (for example) is constituted from registering offshore companies?
- What is the age and experience level of a typical agent in the offshore registration business in Belize?
- What kind of ID and personal information are required for registration?
- Is there any one country in which no personal identity information is required for registration? (Hint: the answer is yes, and it will surprise you.)
- What is a “shelf company”? (No, that’s not a typo. I did say “shelf” company, not shell company.)
- Can you buy a board of directors and stockholders and still retain full control of your offshore company? (My, my, why would you want to?)
- Why would you even want an offshore company and bank account anyway? (Warning: partial answers only, investigation ongoing.)
Well, that should be enough. The podcast can be found at this link. But if your curiosity is not whetted and you would rather not be bothered with the details of how Mr. Romney plans to lead the country out of the financial wilderness, if you think meddling with the rules for offshore accounts would just be more job-killing, excess government regulation, please send me your name and address and I will forward it to the Romney campaign. You are just the kind of voter they are looking for. Heck, you probably wouldn’t understand all those high-finance secret methods anyway.
“Does anybody want to hear that I had a successful business and did all these wonderful things for the industry? And got all these awards? And so did my family? I did all of this during the legitimate years. No. You don’t read any of that.” – Bernie Madoff
- Romney’s offshore assets hint at greater wealth (cbsnews.com)
- Mitt Romney’s 2010 Tax Disclosure Missing Key Documents (huffingtonpost.com)