From Free Life, Issue 26, December 1996
ISSN: 0260 5112

An Investor's Guide to Offshore Investment
Leo Gough
Pitman Publishing, London, 1995, 295pp, £50.00 (hbk)
(ISBN 0 273 61593 9

Offshore investing makes sense if you are rich, so the target market for this book may be limited to the rich and the professionals who serve them, however if New Labour taxes like Old Labour it might be attractive to more of us. Paranoid tax dodgers (like me) will appreciate the advice for the price of the book. Leo Gough briefly familiarises us with tax havens around the world, explains the numerous taxes, and evaluates the vehicles and techniques for minimising the tax burden, as well as giving some handy hints for expatriates. He runs through the pros and cons of trusts and offshore companies as well as giving a useful gazetteer of the world's havens. Chapter four gives a straightforward but handy guide to investment principles.

The advice is generally sound - indeed, it ought to be, since in the Introduction, Mr Gough praises our Editor for his advice on the UK's money laundering laws. But I disagree with Mr Gough on one theme, his trust of the professionals; for instance brokers. Never trust them. I speak as a former broker. I would like to say that I worked tirelessly in pursuit of my client's best interest, but in reality I worked tirelessy in pursuit of brokerage. Your broker may be plausible, trustworthy, solid and reek of integrity; so when he suggests that you invest in the most respected blue-chip stocks, remember this, the phrase blue-chip comes from the roulette tables of Monte Carlo; a broker is a croupier in pin-stripes. Similarly unit trusts are rip-offs; all the evidence shows that you are better off just investing your money direct in the stock market; the fund managers don't know any more than you do. Buy and hold; over long periods of time you will prosper as sure as night follows day, if you are prepared to accept the ups and downs.

More complicated investment tactics are touched on, currencies and eurobonds are discussed. Always remember that that the greater the reward, the greater the risk; it's a simple rule oft forgot by even the slickest investment bankers.

What the book lacks, because it is published in conjunction with The Financial Times, is a review of the simple but illegal tax dodges. If as a Libertarian you take the view that the State enslaves and steals from you via taxes, you won't have any qualms about protecting your property from tax-thieves. Silent Banking, a controlled circulation publication from Scope International used for the training of law enforcement agents to counter money laundering, gives useful tips on how to do it. Offshore credit cards are a good method, untraceable earnings are paid offshore into an account linked to a Visa card! This is simple enough for anyone who is self-employed, if someone is paying you in the black (free) economy by cheque, an offshore sterling account could be handy; spend it untaxed via your offshore Visa card, the back pages of Private Eye advertise this facility. "Silent Banking" is extremely difficult to obtain - sorry, you can't borrow my copy.

Paul D. Staines