Asset Protection Rule #3 Never Trust Anyone
Today, we take on the third rule of asset protection. This is the one that I don’t need to convince my clients about because they’re all control freaks. Most of them built businesses and what does everyone know that has built a business? They know that you should trust nobody. Make people earn your trust at the very least. If you don’t have to trust somebody with your hard earned wealth then don’t. A properly done plan will never put you in a position where you’re vulnerable to theft. Not one of my clients has ever lost a penny. If you do an asset protection plan and trust the trustee, you’re taking a terrible risk.
In the long run you will experience theft & dishonesty. Maybe not from your trustee but by putting your money in someone else’s hands, you’ll find that you’re vulnerable to theft. Now, we’re going to go over the technology that allows you to protect your assets from theft later in the course. There are many techniques you can use, one is you should always be on the accounts. You should always know where your money is at. You should never give a trustee complete and total authority over your account unless there’s no other alternative and even then you can always have multiple trustees. I will be talking about that later. But for now we’re just talking the fundamental rules, never trust anybody with your hard earned wealth.
What is the normal asset protection plan? The normal asset protection plan is some lawyer or some promoter who doesn’t know his head from a hot rock asking you to give them some or all of your money. They convince you to let them put it with an offshore trustee or some other trustee type entity whether it’s a trust or a corporation. They tell you to trust them not steal your money. That is always a mistake. This started out mostly in the Cook Islands but now its become endemic where trustees come to the United States, send marketing representatives to go lawyer after lawyer, telling those lawyers that they can easily make $25,000 to $30,000 a trust, they’d hand them a form, say this fill in these 10 blanks, give it to your clients, bill them $25,000, $30,000 and we’ll give you some very significant referral fees from both the banks and the trust companies. You’ll basically make a load of money. We’ll end up with the money. But we won’t steal it. We’ll protect it. All that is taking a huge risk entrusting your money with people you don’t know.
The average trustee is somebody like me, an entrepreneur, maybe been in the financial, international world for 20-30 years, good reputation but, you know, a couple of million dollars, maybe that’s not a temptation but maybe it is. Ten million, maybe it is. Twenty million, maybe it is. Thirty million, 40 million, there’s a point where you shouldn’t trust trust companies with your money. Maybe Coutts & Company and some of the major trust companies are different than that. Coutts takes care of Queen Elizabeth for example. Problem is they’re going to charge you more money than you can afford to pay. They’re going to insist upon managing your money and most of my clients don’t want to have somebody else telling them how to invest their money. They want to stay in control. My clients build businesses. My clients are control freaks. They know the dangers of trusting other people. So, the bottom line is trust nobody with your money.
I will explain to you the techniques and technology available to keep your money always within your control even if you’re in trouble. Never ever stick with someone who says trust me because you know what, you’re just about to be hosed. Every year tens of millions of dollars is taken by small trust companies from people who were lulled into trusting them. Never trust anybody unless you have to.
The Case Of Marc M. Harris
You should never trust anybody with your hard-earned money. PERIOD. What I’m specifically referring to is any entity that says they need control over your assets in order to protect them. This causes more problems for people than anything else. There’s a point to what I’m saying. It’s not because people are dishonest, it’s just that it is not necessary to HAVE to trust someone. Many people, often with the advice of “experts,” simply put their funds into trust with a foreign trust company and think that they are protected. I think that this is foolish. It is almost never necessary to delegate control over your money to another person or entity, and certainly not when a plan is first implemented. Each year, hundreds of millions of dollars are lost to unscrupulous trust companies that simply walk away with your money. You have no alternative. Take these words to heart: Never delegate control of your money to anybody. Keep control and you cannot be cheated. And yes people are swindled all the time. Here’s an example of just such a swindler. Founder and CEO of The Harris Organization financial services group of Panama, which operates banks, insurance companies and a trust company and offers stock brokering, in-house mutual funds and other money management services – all without a single license! In March 1998, Offshore Alert published an article accusing The Harris Organization of being insolvent, stealing clients’ funds, operating a Ponzi scheme and money laundering.
The Harris Organization sued for libel at Federal Court in Miami and after a bench trial in July 1999, then appealed and that too. Harris did not testify at the trial, his attorney, Ohio-based AC Strip, told the court that two Harris officers had been served with SEC subpoenas during the trial and that Harris was ‘‘concerned’’ about what might happen to him should he travel to the US. Harris not only refuses to honor made by his but he also generally refuses to take their irate telephone calls or see them when they turn up in Panama to demand the return of their money. Harris’ specialty is to fly easily impressed Americans to Panama, have them whisked through customs and transported in a chauffeur- driven Jaguar to Downtown Panama City, where they are wined and dined and parted from their money. He doesn’t tell them that his CPA license was suspended in Florida in 1990 for incompetence and negligence after he audited a Florida- based mutual fund without disclosing in the notes to the financial statements that he also owned and ran it, according to a complaint.
Additionally, the sum of the individual assets did not equal the number given for total assets, there was insufficient information on investments in operating affiliates and there was an absence of information on the aggregate cost and market value of marketable securities held by the company. Harris was also involved in illegally run Montserrat banks that were closed down by British police in 1989-90, buying offshore ‘shell’ banks from notorious bank charter broker Jerome Schneider.
In June 2002, Harris was evicted from his commercial premises in Panama for non-payment of $47,000 in rent, causing him to move what was left of his dwindling operations to Managua, Nicaragua. According to those who know him, Harris has an insufferable ego that his business and professional failures have done nothing to diminish. This is, perhaps, best illustrated by Harris once handing out signed copies of his self-published book ‘The Intellectual Spirit of Marc M. Harris’ to strippers who were performing at a Panama strip club, according to a former employee. You can still buy his books in the stores and online as well as find his website.