Wealthy residents of oppressive countries may feel safer with their savings elsewhere. Dictators, fearing revolt, often do, too.
Step 5: Choose a country.
Switzerland's famous "numbered accounts" aren't as clandestine as they're portrayed in spy movies but do cater to the rich and ensure only a few bank executives know a client's name. Hong Kong has its own version — "chop accounts," identified by a symbol. Congressional investigators counted 50 places that can be considered tax havens or financial hideaways.
Tax havens usually boast:
—Little or no income tax;
—Laws that make it a crime for banks to reveal account holders' names;
—A history of failing to cooperate with other nations' tax collectors.
Step 6: Open an account.
Law-abiding customers who can't travel to an offshore bank can usually set up an account by mail with little or no minimum deposit.
For tax evaders and those playing the angles, a network of accountants, lawyers and bankers is ready to set up shell companies and phony trusts to hide behind.
They can get creative. Former UBS banker Bradley Birkenfeld told investigators he helped a billionaire client withdraw his funds in the form of diamonds. Birkenfeld flew to America with the diamonds hidden in his luggage, inside a tube of toothpaste.
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