Discretion, in the banking sense, used to be spelt “Switzerland”. But now there’s an international spotlight on Swiss bankers’ activities and fees, charges and costs are soaring.
It makes far less sense for the successful South African, Zimbabwean or Namibian to bank and invest through traditional offshore financial centres. Closer to home, with a robust Roman Dutch Common Law tradition and friendly tax laws, and without exchange controls, is rich and vibrant Botswana. Here, financial administration is far more affordable than doing business through the Indian Ocean Islands, British Virgin Islands or European financial destinations.
Communication infrastructure between the Southern African states is good. The time zones are close. Flights to Gaborone are plentiful. Financial travellers can visit their funds and be home within a day. The special International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) regime, based on the Dublin model, is available for those interested in international trade. Botswana has anti-money-laundering legislation in place.
Criminals aren’t advised to operate here – the law is tough. Stealing a goat has a mandatory sentence that would make any Jo’burg tsotsi quake, and there is the death sentence. Rapists and murderers swing here and justice is unstinting.
Trusts registered in Botswana are protected by default. There’s no statutory trust law, only the Common Law, which provides safety for beneficiaries and anonymity for those who value their privacy. Movable assets can be registered in trust in Botswana, out of sight of prying eyes.
Special trusts, such as the Massachusetts Trust, can be set up to handle the affairs of Southern African firms. Investments made through Botswana can also grow tax-free. For law-abiding people who dislike the international trend towards less privacy in financial affairs (and more taxes) Botswana is the answer – if they don’t see it, they can’t take it.
Disgruntled staff, ex- and soon-to-be-ex spouses and partners, creditors, freeloaders, schemers, the nosey and the curious are locked out by the Botswana Trust regime.
Life assurance – assured
Life assurance, taken out through the major life assurers in hard currency, is available here for the thoughtful parent or business executive. Such life assurance can’t be traced by the normal broker in South Africa or Namibia. Only an accredited offshore life advisor can obtain information about offshore assurance.
Loved ones get the peace of mind of knowing the assurance can’t be attached by tax authorities at home, or by creditors if the business fails after death.
This is Botswana, and this is how we spell discretion!