Sunday, March 15, 2015


You have probably have seen the news regarding devastation visited upon the Republic of Vanuatu by the Cyclone Pam this week, but one must always keep in mind that successful money launderers thrive during national disasters, for they ply their dark trade best in the midst of chaos.Vanuatu*, which has been deemed one of the most opaque of the world's offshore tax haven jurisdictions, has become a target of opportunity.

Let me translate that for you; money launderers, having learned that 90% of the buildings in the capital, Port-Vila, have been destroyed, and utilities, including power, have been disrupted, perhaps for weeks, may find a way to take advantage of this lack of communication in several possible ways:

(1) They may create a totally bogus Vanuatu corporate entity, by editing existing corporate documents, and presenting it at account opening, knowing that you cannot verify corporate existence, given there is no electronic access to information in-country.

(2) They could arbitrarily re-designate the name of a shell corporate entity they hold at present, from another jurisdiction, as one from Vanuatu, and you could not corroborate that ploy. Companies from Vanuatu are non-transparent, and even directors names are unavailable. At a later date, they would "correct" their error, and switch corporate jurisdictions. By doing so, you have been denied the names of corporate officers & directors at the critical juncture of account opening. remember, Vanuatu's corporation laws allow suffixes to corporate names, such as Limited, B.V., and GmbH, which further confuses bankers who see such names, as to the origin of such companies.

I am sure that there are other permutations and combinations, ploys and dodges, that money launderers, when confronted with a closed companies house, can attempt, which I am not aware of; my thoughts are that one should, for the time being, decline to accept any Vanuatu corporate or other entity, as a vehicle to own a bank account, or securities account, for so long as the national emergency there persists.

* If the country is still unfamiliar to you, it was formerly a joint British-French possession known as New Hebrides.

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