The Switzerland of Asia
The Switzerland of Asia by Bob Bauman – Banyan Hill
The Republic of Singapore has the tripartite distinction of being a small island, a city and an independent country, all in one.
Located just a few miles north of the equator in the Far East, this former British colony has Malaysia and Indonesia as neighbors. Our associates at the international travel guide Lonely Planet give this estimate: “Long dismissed as little more than a sterile stopover, Singapore has reinvented itself as one of the world’s hot-list destinations.”
That refers to the many tourist attractions in Singapore (including a giant “vending machine” for luxury cars), but for investment-savvy Americans, there is a special draw…
The New Financial Center of the World
According to the Boston Consulting Group, Singapore — now growing faster than first-place Switzerland — will become the largest offshore financial center in the world by 2028.
Indeed, after my visit to Singapore a decade ago, when I met with attorneys, bankers and investment houses, I wrote about this ultramodern city as “the Switzerland of Asia.” Now, The New York Times describes it as “ … an increasingly popular destination for money that wants to stay under the radar.”
Tight bank secrecy laws, intentionally patterned after the Swiss, have helped draw $1.1 trillion in foreign funds to the city. But Singapore takes dirty money seriously. It has jailed local and foreign bankers and closed branches of two Swiss banks.
As the Times reports: “Singapore has positioned itself as a one-stop shop for Asia’s rich. It encouraged private wealth managers to use the city as a regional base in the 1990s just as China’s rise created a new generation of wealthy.”
Since then, Americans and others also have discovered Singapore, where online banking at firms such as OCBC require only an SG$1,000 deposit ($720) to open an account. Its British-based modern laws also offer asset protection trusts, international corporations and limited liability companies.