No question, the US today is not a safe place to invest in – nor even to visit. Beside the danger posed by the government, recent statistics reveal that the chances of being assaulted in a big city are roughly the same as a front line soldier being shot in World War П. In New York City, Washington DC, and Los Angeles, armed robbery is so common that a well dressed tourist walking alone has a better than even chance of being assaulted and seriously injured. Violent crime is more than 20 times as common in Big City America than it is in Europe. Strange when we also learn that 20 times more people (on a per capita basis) are in American jails than are in European jails. Perhaps the wrong people are being incarcerated in America.
We are not saying that if you visit the US you’ll be assaulted during a drug crazed hold-up or by drug-crazed government officials. But a small percentage of foreign investors will share the rate of the two individuals in the above horror stories. If your accounts are not confiscated however, the odds are probably better than 50-50 that there will be some fairly serious tax or regulatory problems with any substantial investments held in your own name. For instance, in the event of death, a large tax (55 per cent in recent years) is due, even from foreigners who may never have set foot in the country. The legal and other costs of “administering an estate” or simply getting it paid over to the rightful owner will be about another 10 per cent if everything goes smoothly. This legalized theft from the unwary has been the law of the land for years.
Your heirs or a joint holder of a bank account or securities portfolio may thus get an unpleasant surprise, ending up with 35 per cent on the dollar when they try to close out an account or sell your real estate. The inheritance/estate tax problem at least, is overcome by simply keeping assets in a company name, or as suggested at the outset, dealing through a foreign bank so that your name, ownership (and the fact of your death), never appears on a US computer.
Now that constitutional protections against arbitrary seizures or confiscations without notices or hearings have been removed by court decisions, the US is certainly as treacherous a place as any third world dictatorship. It may be more treacherous than most. Why? Because in tiic third world (and much of the First and Second World as well) most problems can bo settled with an appropriate gift or tribute paid to the proper official. While corruption is not desirable, it is in many ways preferable to be able to make a pay-off; a quick financial settlement. Lawyers in such places know there are standard charges for such things. Then you can get on with life and business.
In the United States, once caught in the grind wheels of bureaucracy, one can face endless hassles and often end up in jail. The system, like that of the former Communist Bureaucracy often seems capricious in choosing its victims. But there is a pattern. It is this pattern we are now warning you about. In the US, prosecutors admit that they often choose their defendants on the basis of nationality, notoriety, wealth or social standing. These factors are more decisive, it appears, than whether the defendant did anything to hurt anyone. In many cases, the criteria for what is known as “selective prosecution” is simply how easy it will be to grab assets or get a criminal conviction from a jury already prejudiced against foreigners.
How much publicity or career advancement opportunity will making a seizure or winning a conviction in a given case provide? Guilt or innocence is often not even a factor to be considered. As such, a wealthy foreigner with investments in the US is a wonderful target not only for the criminals on the street, but also for the criminals in the government suites. Sometimes, because of personal concerns the foreigner will not “cause trouble” by reclaiming assets taken from him. And if he is foolish enough to come into the states to protect his financial interests, he can become a scapegoat, prosecuted and convicted, thus becoming another statistic to show how effective the government is in bringing outsiders to their knees. Most Americans – the silent majority – have a strong prejudice against foreigners with strange names, strange accents and non-white skin colors. Even Blacks and Hispanics who have become part of the bureaucracy often share these prejudices. They consider themselves white and Anglo and are called by their more ethnic brothers “Oreos”. An “Oreo” is a type of mass produced cookie that is “Black or brown on the outside, and white on the inside.” Thus it is not unusual for a prosecutor (a member of a minority group himself) to pander to the most base racial and anti foreigner prejudices that are to be found within the hearts and minds of the typical juror. These jurors, like judges, seem to relish the power to take away the money or freedom of a person “different” from themselves. In their normal lives they may not really be the middle class, white, patriotic, flag waving, ecology-saviors that they perceive themselves to be. But they will vote that way against you. Foreigners in the US, beware. You are the most likely candidate for asset stripping.