Non-cooperative banking jurisdictions

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  DDg 7 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #3344

    rp
    Participant

    A friend of mine runs a legitimate online business, however some of the products he sells could be violating various licenses or copyright agreements of international corporations (and thus possibly laws of multiple countries).

    For this reason he’s looking for a location where banks would simply turn down all requests or just make it a lot harder for western courts/government agencies (not necessarily just tax authorities) to obtain any information about the account holder.

    Being a long-time Streber reader (thanks for the amazing work!) I recall a great post about banking in Caucasus which seems to fit the requirements – appearing in person and committing to a larger (5-6 digit) minimum balance will not be an issue. Is the information included there still up to date? How hard would it be to open an account with banks in lets say Azerbaijan for an offshore company when appearing in person? The business itself should not look risky from the banks point of view, after all they will only get deposits from a reputable payment processor.

    Am I even looking into the right direction? The reputation of the jurisdiction is obviously not so important. Are there any other jurisdictions or areas worth looking into?

    #3348

    askesis
    Participant

    Well, try to then wire substantial funds from and Azerbaijan bank over SWIFT, and maybe even in USD and then a whole lot of “fun” will start. Why would you want to receive into and send wires from a jurisdiction that is borderline shady ? If it as about a criminal investigation pretty much any bank in the World will give up everything they have about you in the blink of an eye.

    #3349

    Streber
    Keymaster

    It’s first of all not a legitimate business if it is conducting illegitimate business transactions (i.e. the sale of copyright or trademark infringing products). Let’s just get that cleared out from the start.

    Second, I’m not sure if I see bank being a significantly weak link here. If you’re selling Star Wars figurines without Disney’s approval, they won’t go after your bank because how would they even know which bank you use? Doesn’t make a big difference is it’s a bank in Azerbaijan or Spain.

    If Disney decides to go after your friend’s business, they would rather (threaten to) sue the company and attempt to subpoena PayPal, any other payment processors, the web hosting company, the domain registrar, and so on. Bank isn’t high up on the list of points of attacks.

    As @askesis points out as well, if it were to be a criminal investigation, the odds of a bank deciding to disclose data is far greater than in cases of tax evasion or petty money laundering. IP infringement is often a civil matter, though, so it’s maybe not particularly likely that law enforcement will ever get involved.

    That said, you might find Antigua and Barbuda more fitting here due to its peculiar standing against US copyright. But even so, banks there aren’t going to risk their valuable EUR and USD correspondence accounts just to facilitate some IP infringement. It needs to be worth their while.

    #3353

    rp
    Participant

    Thank for your valuable input, Streber and @askesis!

    Of course by legitimate I just meant that his customers actually get what they pay for and thus there is no risk of chargebacks etc.

    I’ve been analyzing possible scenarios and it does seem to me like the bank is the weak link here. You can get hosting/domains in jurisdictions like Iceland or even further like Ukraine, pay with BTC and with some common sense be nearly completely safe on that end. They would indeed most likely first go after the payment provider, who then wouldn’t be able to provide them with anything more than the company info and the bank account used for payouts (there are plenty of companies who don’t require anything more than this to start processing). Obviously nobody will bother going after some offshore company registrar and even if they did there won’t be anything more than the nominees listed. The first weak link here will be the bank account as it’s not possible to obtain one without having it linked to a natural person.

    If I’m right then the most important step would be to making obtaining data from the bank as hard as possible by involving a jurisdiction that is most likely to simply refuse cooperation.

    Of course odds of an actual criminal investigation are extremely low, when setting a structure up it makes sense to prepare for the worst.

    Azerbaijan was just one of the first ideas – and of course the funds do not need to be transferred further directly, they could for example be wired from Azerbaijan into some Russian bitcoin exchange…

    My friend is just exploring different options so all your insight is really appreciated. I will have him certainly look into Antigua and Barbuda.

    #3385

    DDg
    Participant

    I was gonna post in this thread but accidentally choosed the wrong one hehe.. Here we go again:

    Since the subject is up anyway,
    I read parts of the investigation to catch the person behind the (one of) worlds famous torrent sites kickasstorrents. And you know how hard they pursue torrent sites, just to get an idea about copyright.
    He had a bank account (or multiple) in Latvia.
    Apparently, though, he masked the origin of these found. So whoever was gonna pay him for ads on his site, he always included in the instructions his bank account info as well as “Don’t mention anything about ads or advertising” and instead tried to say something like “rent” or similar. Illegal right there. The investigators suspected he had other money somewhere else. But that’s got nothing to do with it.
    What is funnier is the fact that the IRS helped FBI uncover his identity because they suspected him of tax-related crime. Tax evasion or something. So they acted like an interested partner and sent him a total over a few payments of 20k to his account. (which was registered under, I think, Seychelles corporation). Long story short he made a slip-up and IRS was right after him.

    But to help you some, Antigua is in a bad position with all these copyright kinda issues. Check here:

    Antigua & Barbuda Threatens to Punish U.S. With Piracy Free-For-All

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