Nevis: how the world’s most secretive offshore haven refuses to clean up
To bring legal proceedings on Nevis, you have to file a bond of $100,000 with the court as proof that your case isn’t frivolous. If you win, that is only the beginning of your quest for the assets. Nevis’s regulator holds no information on either the ownership of the company or its assets. Nevis’s LLCs – Neufeld’s innovation – can’t be wound up, meaning you won’t be able to confiscate any assets they own, and you would have to seek redress elsewhere. If you seek to challenge the legality of a property being put in a Nevis-registered trust – for example, if you thought the property actually belonged to you – you have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the trust’s creation was fraudulent, and you would have to begin that legal challenge within a year of its creation. This is tricky, since Nevis law requires all information on the trust to be confidential, so you would be unlikely to know it even existed.
“You’ve got to realise that the asset protection industry is trillions of dollars, not billions of dollars, it’s trillions of dollars,” said Fisher. “Essentially, it’s: we’re going to find a way to screw legitimate creditors out of collecting a legitimate debt. That’s the business these people are in.”
The issue is that if every jurisdiction thinks only of how to stand on its own two feet – whether that’s post-Brexit Britain, Nevis or Wyoming – we will all be pushed over separately by the world’s crooks and thieves. Brantley is right that we all need to do more to fight kleptocrats and fraudsters, but by keeping their secrets and making money from it, Nevis is stopping the rest of us from moving forward.