Simon Black…Notes from the Field….SRI LANKA…..via e-mail

In Business/Political Trends Worldwide, Continental Travel, Interesting places, Offshore accounts, Political, Travel on October 29, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Sovereign Man
Notes from the Field

Date: October 29, 2010
Reporting From: Colombo, Sri Lanka

I want to start off this missive with an important announcement: Sovereign Man will be hosting its inaugural comprehensive offshore workshop from February 18-20, 2011 in Panama City, Panama.

This is something that I’m very excited about, and I’m devoting a lot of time and attention to ensure that the workshop is a massive success– long on action, short on fluff.

To give you an idea, I’m inviting my trusted contacts like lawyers, private bankers, immigration specialists, brokers, trustees, and tax planners from all over the world, and you’ll be able to work with each of them, one-on-one.

This includes things like residency and naturalization, opening bank and brokerage accounts, storing gold overseas, registering foreign companies, establishing a trust, and even tax and legal advice so that you can legitimately maximize the benefits of each.

In short, this workshop will not only bring the world’s best offshore specialists to a single event and make them personally available to help you start planting multiple flags.

More importantly, we’ll start off the workshop with a “Starter’s Guide” seminar, which I will lead personally. Do you ever look at all the offshore options and wonder “There are so many choices, how do I even get started? Which is right for me?”

At this event, I’ll personally take you through how to analyze all of the options for your own situation to see which will be right for you… and once you’re ready, a team of providers will be standing by to personally assist you.

My goal is that you leave this workshop with a bank account established, a structure established, and being well on your way to having foreign residency approved for future citizenship.

I hope to see you there– once again, it will be from 18-20 February 2011, so save the date now… more details will follow soon. And with that, let’s move on to this week’s questions.

First, Stephan asks, “Simon, can you comment on the differences between opening a bank account in mainland China versus Hong Kong?”

They’re huge. Opening a bank account in mainland China is incredibly simple– in the time it takes for you to brew a pot of coffee, mainland banks will have your account open, UnionPay card ready, and even a local brokerage account.

At the moment, though, I wouldn’t recommend this for the uninitiated because there are some challenges. First, you have to go there in person to open an account in most cases, and this can be a pain for many people given the travel and visa hassles.

Second, there are still exchange controls in China, so it can be cumbersome to move money out the country unless you have another account in Hong Kong.

My recommendation is to first open an account in Hong Kong; you can always choose to hold your currency in renminbi if this is what you’re looking to do… and because it’s Hong Kong, you have the full weight and authority of mainland China to defend the banking system against foreign inquisitors.

Next, Paul asks, “Simon, online privacy is really important to me, so I appreciate you recommending Cryptohippie as a solution for secure browsing. I wonder– is it possible that company executives could be forced to give up our personal information to US authorities?”

Great question. Cryptohippie is one possible tool to safeguard your online privacy– the technology goes far beyond basic VPN or proxy service, and I’d encourage you to get in touch with the company directly to find out more and about how the technology is audited.

One of the things that I really like, though, is that the founders split operations into two separate legal entities and built a brick wall between the two. One company handles customer data, the other encrypts the web traffic, and the two don’t ever cross paths.

That being said, I’m happy to report that Cryptohippie is planning to move offshore soon– management realizes that it’s simply too inconvenient to be in the US any longer.

Subscribers to this e-letter receive a 7-day free trial to Cryptohippie’s service, so you can try it out risk free. Premium subscribers to Sovereign Man: Confidential receive the 7-day trial as well as a $40 discount.

Next, Richard asks, “Simon, I was curious as to why you didn’t on Indian real estate– any thoughts?”

Indian real estate is extremely cheap; I came across some of the cheapest raw land I’ve seen in Asia priced at just pennies per square meter. In upmarket urban areas, golf course condos with ocean views can be had for less than $100,000… you get the idea.

Given the supply and demand fundamentals (rising wealth coupled with a fixed amount of land available in urban markets), as well as the prospect of a rising currency, I think that Indian property makes for a pretty reasonable speculation… except for one thing:

Foreigners aren’t really allowed to own property. In order to qualify, one must be an Indian citizen, an overseas citizen of India, a person of Indian origin, or a foreigner who has become a permanent resident. The latter is a fairly difficult thing to do.

There are less cumbersome speculations among some Indian equities traded on foreign exchanges, including some companies that specialize in land banking. I’m currently looking in to a few of these.

Last, Chloe asks, “Hi Simon. I’m curious if you always have a plan for where you are going next? What makes you decide when to move and where to travel?”

I usually have specific reasons when I travel– getting a feel for the opportunities on the ground, having a meeting, scouting an investment deal, or just personal reasons.

To give you an example, I’m headed to Thailand on Monday to meet up with some friends and partake in a bit of medical tourism. Afterwards, I’ll be headed to Singapore for business and will hopefully be able to squeeze in a trip to Cambodia for deal sourcing.

People often ask me if it ever gets old– the travel. Of course not… travel is always full of unique and interesting experiences, and it doesn’t get old. ‘Traveling,’ on the other hand, which is the act of getting from point A to point B, does get tiresome after a while, especially when it’s so frequent.

I suspect that by the end of this year, I’ll probably slow down a bit and start spending more time in a single place– a few weeks or even a few months instead of just a few days. This will be good for productivity since we have plans for some large projects next year, including the sustainable community.

Have a great weekend.

Simon Black
Senior Editor,


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