In Hong Kong, anti-extradition bill protests have been in full force since 31 March this year.
Last month, protest organizers estimated that one-million people took part in a march against a proposed amendment to the bill, which would be the largest demonstration in Hong Kong since the end of British rule in 1997.
Due to the on-going mass unrest – which has seen more than 140 people injured, hundreds of protesters arrested, and even four suicides – high-net-worth individuals are moving their personal wealth to Singapore.
It’s not only the ongoing unrest that’s of major concern to investors; there’s also the fear that Beijing may use the extradition bill, if it becomes law, to seize individuals’ assets in Hong Kong.
This push by the Hong Kong government is also being seen as one more move to enable Beijing’s ever-tightening control over Hong Kong.
What is the extradition bill?
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, is pushing for an amendment to the country’s existing extradition bill; the amendment is set to allow for extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau for people suspected of committing crimes in these territories.
The Hong Kong government has said that an amendment to the extradition bill is needed to keep law and order, but many international political analysts and investors suspect foul play.
If passed, the extradition law would make those who are suspected of criminal offenses subject to not only China’s laws, but also to the laws of any jurisdiction in the world with which Hong Kong has no existing formal agreement. Currently Hong Kong only has agreements with 20 countries, including the UK and US.
This could mean arbitrary detentions, unjust trials, and gross human rights violations.
Big Brother is watching
The proposed bill amendment will also be very bad for business, especially for companies that are headquartered in Hong Kong. According to a recent statement made by the International Chamber of Commerce, if the bill is passed into law, companies could potentially be removed to a different jurisdiction – like mainland China – which lacks both legal and civil protections.
Sophie Richardson of Human Rights Watch, who was quoted by the BBC, said in a statement: “The proposed changes to the extradition laws will put anyone in Hong Kong doing work related to the mainland at risk.”
“No one will be safe, including activists, human rights lawyers, journalists, and social workers.”
Another concerning development for local and international investors, who hold assets like gold and silver in Hong Kong, involves HSBC. The bank recently changed the conditions for its customers’ safety deposit boxes in Hong Kong, and, according to The South China Morning Post, HSBC now has the right to dispose of any items it deemed “illegal”, of an “offensive” nature, or to be a “nuisance”, without prior notice or consent.
These new conditions effectively allow the bank to create an “inventory” and snoop on their Hong Kong customers’ valuables, which constitutes a blatant invasion of privacy and does not bode well for the future of banking privacy or asset security in Hong Kong.
Time to get out of the Far East – and go to Panama
While many high-net-worth individuals are currently moving their assets out of Hong Kong to Singapore, financial advisors suggest that an option many haven’t yet considered is Panama.
Fort Kobbe Vaults is located in a Free Trade Zone in Panama, Central America, and lies well out of Beijing’s reach. It’s also the airline hub of the Americas, making it easy to get to. Panama has a stable banking system and government, as well as very strict privacy laws. Logistics facilities do not require reporting of assets.
With Beijing’s ever-increasing grip tightening in Hong Kong, transferring your personal wealth – whether it’s gold or important documents – to a safe and private location outside of the Asian continent should be your number-one priority.
Fort Kobbe Vaults is the only vault in Panama that’s located in an international Free Trade Zone. It’s also the only vault in the Free Trade Zone that’s able to offer customized, fully insured vaulting solutions that are fully allocated and segregated. It is one of only three companies in Panama that offer safety deposit boxes, and it provides additional services that no other company in Panama can offer.
Fort Kobbe Vaults has direct access to a private, international airport within the Panama Pacifico Free Trade Zone. It is able to offer guarded and armored transportation from the airport to the vault, as well as on-site customs and immigration services, and a complete VIP service for the discerning investor.
Contact Fort Kobbe now for advice on how to move your assets out of Hong Kong, and out of Beijing’s reach.