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debirlfan
02-14-2011, 05:33 AM
Anyone know anything about them?

(First - note that this is set approximately 1995, if it matters.) Is the following scenario possible:

Evil character A who is in Bolivia is working with evil character B who is in the US. B is depositing money into a Swiss account for A (and is also presumably withdrawing some occasionally on A's instructions - in short, would have the account numbers/access to the account.)

A is killed, although death is never reported. B withdraws funds from account for his own use.

Possible? If so, how would the transactions take place? Is there an office in the States? Wire transfer? Something else?

Thanks in advance.

backslashbaby
02-14-2011, 06:26 AM
It's totally possible. B could have the money transferred to any other bank he liked just by signing some things. Swiss Banks don't take e-mail; otherwise, they are just banks, mostly.

He'd lose the tax benefits doing it that way, of course. Generally, you take the funds out and put them somewhere else that has the tax advantages, avoiding the US (well, you are allowed 10,000 or so a year through customs without penalties).

A lot of things about them changed very recently. If you aren't concerned about privacy from the US gov't or tax advantages, not much changed.

I don't know if they have offices in the US.

eta: if he couldn't get to Switzerland, they might let lawyers get the required signatures. I'll ask around; I have no idea on that part.

jclarkdawe
02-14-2011, 06:27 AM
Swiss banks use numbered accounts, rather than named accounts. To withdraw money from them, you need the account number and the verification code. Basically you call the bank, give your account number, then your verification code, then tell them what you want done. They can wire transfer to any account in another bank.

You can layer the security however deep you want. For example, you can arrange so that you call the bank, give them the account number, verification code, and a phone number. They'll call back after a set period of time, you have to answer, and the answer has to meet specific requirements. Screw it up in any fashion, and you never see the money.

Status of the depositor is immaterial to the bank. But now (since 9/11) some level of identification of the originator of the account is required. And since some point, pressure from international governments limited the ability of Swiss banks to handle illegal deposits. Computerization has really given the governments the ability to track cash, and the secrecy of Swiss banks has been steadily declining since 1970.

In 1995, I would have gone with the Cayman Islands for a US citizen. Same sort of system for numbered accounts, but more secure at that point than the Swiss.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

debirlfan
02-14-2011, 07:40 AM
In 1995, I would have gone with the Cayman Islands for a US citizen. Same sort of system for numbered accounts, but more secure at that point than the Swiss.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Jim - thanks, actually, the Cayman Islands would work equally well for my purposes.

Exactly how would my character get the money to and from (actually the "from" is most important) the account? Could he call and have the money sent through Western Union or something along those lines? The guy is sort of on the run, so transferring it to a US bank doesn't really work (neither does going to the Islands to pick it up.) Working through a lawyer or other third party would work great, though. I actually need someone to get wise to what he's doing and lay in wait to follow/attempt to kill him - 3rd party involvement by a shady character who'd sell him out might be the easiest way to do that.

(It's fine if all this is very illegal and rather dangerous - none of the folks involved are worried about that.)

Thanks again, all.

backslashbaby
02-14-2011, 08:09 AM
It's good if he thinks folks are out to screw him, because these things can be set up with a fair lack of security if you ask me (lol). It's just a bank, I guess.

The new info I got a minute ago agrees totally with Jim's. With a Swiss account, you can just have a credit card you use for cash advances, even. OTOH, folks have them set up with more security than that if they like (which is what I was thinking of). You can set up a lawyer to get your signatures and, say, have them only accept real signatures (rather than photocopies, or a phone call, etc). Lots of stuff like that. You can have it so that no wire transfers are possible, etc. The person I'm thinking of always went to Switzerland in person, set up on purpose that way, so a wire transfer would be quite hard to arrange.


I don't know the Caymans, but give a yell if the Channel Islands fits your needs. Same idea. That's another tax haven, but I'm not sure about privacy. Usually tax havens are good for that, though.


In your scenario, he'd probably have a bank in mind where he wants the money sent. Or he could just get a cash advance through credit card if you want it that easy; that wouldn't require a new account anywhere, I wouldn't think. Or a cashier's check, maybe? It depends on what you need. Does he mind having a new account anywhere, does he want it in cash, etc? The lawyer could bring him a nice fat briefcase full of bills, even :D



Eta: apologies for losing my blank lines!! I'm messing with script stuff as I'm posting here. Sorry!

Stanmiller
02-14-2011, 08:22 AM
I researched this pretty thoroughly a few years back. Caymans will work. As will Turks and Caicos, Belize, Panama, lots of places.

Like Jim said, set up an anonymous numbered account, with some procedural gimmicks laid on. As far as getting the money to the bank, Electronic Funds Transfers have been the standard for a number of years. These days, there's sophisticated quasi-legal (even by Patriot Act standards) tracking done by shadowy govt agencies looking for terrorist money-laundering operations. So it's harder to move big chunks now without setting off alarms.

In '95, you'll be far better off in that regard. Basically the IRS was the only US entity that gave a crap who did what with their money. So cashier's checks would be the easiest way to move it. Bearer bonds used to be popular, but they stopped being issued in the US in the '80s. They're still in use in other parts of the world, though.

Stan

debirlfan
02-14-2011, 08:29 AM
Thanks, guys - I'm thinking the shady lawyer handing over the briefcase full of cash suits my purposes very nicely.

Stanmiller
02-14-2011, 05:40 PM
Thanks, guys - I'm thinking the shady lawyer handing over the briefcase full of cash suits my purposes very nicely.

Cash in large amounts is heavy and bulky. How much we talking about? A few hundred K, no prob. More than that and you're getting into wheelbarrow-type bulk.
Stan

jclarkdawe
02-14-2011, 06:19 PM
Small amounts of cash could be done through Western Union, but I'd go with an ATM card. You could access $5,000 now or $10,000 per day without it being reported to the government. However, it would probably take you several machines, unless you were at someplace like a casino or a racetrack, where betting results in larger chunks of cash being utilized than is the norm. Many ATMs limit transactions to $500 or $1,000 per transaction.

If you limited yourself to under $5,000 a day back then, the Feds probably won't have noticed you.

Larger sums require a lot more knowledge of the system, and now are virtually impossible to move without some government being aware of it. I don't know what the trigger amount is or was, but now I'd guess the Feds track anything over $100,000. Back in 1995 I'd be guessing a million dollars.

So what you have to do is make an illegal transfer look legal, and this takes some serious knowledge. It's the fact you've got to get it over an international border that makes this difficult. Method one would be to send a courier to the bank, with the correct identification for a single transfer. The courier would then attempt to smuggle the cash into the US without getting caught by customs.

Second method is to wire transfer the money into the US looking like a legitimate deal. This would involve finding a high level fence experienced in this matter. My guess is most major cities have at least one person doing this.

For both of these approaches, the transaction is going to cost you, possibly as much as 50%, and definitely over 20% of the total amount of money moved. Trust is a big factor, and getting caught definitely happens. The government has acquired some large chunks of change (over a million dollars) where no one ever wants to claim ownership.

You wouldn't want to go through a lawyer, no matter how shady, because of the fact that they are regulated and their books are subject to audits fairly easily. You need someone who is buying and selling on an international basis in high end goods, like an art dealer. An art dealer could very legitimately receive a million dollar wire transfer from overseas for selling the right painting(s) to an oversea buyer.

ETA: Stan's post reminded me that the largest denomination bill in common circulation is the $100 bill. Way before 1995 larger bills had disappeared. You need 10,000 $100 bills to make a million dollars. It gets bulky, which is one reason why smuggling cash is hard to do.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

debirlfan
02-15-2011, 01:49 AM
Actually don't need my character making big withdrawals - just enough for him and his girl friend to live on. Back in 1995, I'd say 10 grand should easily be enough to hold him for a few months - and that amount should transport easily and not raise any red flags. Thanks!