BY BEN SAPSFORD
2019 was a big year for Southpac, asset protection and the financial markets. There was the Southpac Offshore Planning Institute, Legal Counsel – Vibha Vallabh created a new Foundation-Trust structure, there were trust law changes, significant protests in Hong Kong and a number of significant compliance breaches at several companies around the world including at two large Australian banks.
Southpac’s Legal, Compliance, Finance and Commercial teams were all busy in 2019. All took time to write various articles on important events during the year.
Below is a collection of some of the significant articles from Southpac’s 2019.
By Ben Sapsford
Southpac held the 2019 Offshore Planning Institute at the Four Seasons Resort Nevis, in May, following on from Southpac’s successful Las Vegas conference in 2017. With more interest from the industry, the programme was ambitiously extended to three days from its original two days, to cater to attendees arriving from all corners of the world.
Planning for the conference began in mid-2018 with the organisation of the programme, speakers and venue. Speakers from all sectors relevant to international planning practices provided valuable insights including materials, anecdotes, case studies, legal cases and some interesting discourse over the three-day programme.
By Vibha Vallabh
Two recent legal judgments are key to the evolution of modern trust management and administration.
Both cases provide insight into the approach taken by the courts with regard to passive trusts, and are perhaps a warning of things to come as more courts adopt the precedents set by these two cases.
This is particularly relevant, as law governing the trusts in both cases exist, even though courts in different jurisdictions held sway over their outcomes.
By Connor Steens
The terrorist attack at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Masjid Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, is an appalling tragedy for the men, women, and children killed or injured on Friday 15th March 2019. Our thoughts are with them, their families and friends, and the people of Christchurch during this awful time. We struggle to find the words that can provide understanding or clarity about the events that unfolded for the victims and their families, and also the first responders and medical staff who are dealing with the aftermath of this terrible event.
On Monday 18th March at 1.48pm we held a moment of silence to pay our respects to those who lost their lives and think about those who will forever be affected by the tragedy.
By Guy Carson
To potentially misquote Robert F. Kennedy, “Like it or not, we live in interesting times.” That certainly has been true in financial markets over the last year. The threat of a trade war combined with a global economic slowdown caused equity and credit markets to panic late last year. The Federal Reserve then stepped in, cancelling their Quantitative Tightening program and putting further rate rises on hold. In a volatile time such as this it is often worth reviewing your investment portfolio and making sure that you are appropriately positioned. This is particularly true given the extraordinary rally we have had in global equity markets over the early part of this year. To understand why it’s important we need to step back and look at the bigger picture to understand the risks and the opportunities currently. If you wish to have a further conversation around this please do not hesitate to get in contact with us.
By Andrew Tarpey
As someone who has worked in the compliance and anti-money laundering fields for some time, I had long been familiar with the ACAMS (Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists) certification. Becoming certified as an anti-money laundering specialist is desired by anyone who works in the industry, and it signals that a person has developed knowledge and experience in the subject of financial crime. Although I had long desired to become certified, doing so isn’t easy; along with the reading and studying that is required to pass the ACAMS exam, there is a significant financial cost to becoming both a member of ACAMS and to sit the exam. Many companies will sponsor an employee to gain the certification, but due to the cost involved, I found that there were limits on this; for example, a company may pay for only one or two employees to take the ACAMS exam each year, and others who wanted to do so would either have to wait until a subsequent year or pay for it themselves.
By Guy Carson
Hong Kong is in a state of transition. Recent actions from the Chinese have led to social unrest with the key issue being the recent extradition bill. This has been viewed as a sign that China wishes to take more sovereign control over the territory. Despite handing back Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997, the British and the Americans still view Hong Kong as its own sovereign state. With greater Chinese influence, this may change.
Sitting above this recent tension, is the importance of Hong Kong to China and the shifting nature of the Hong Kong economy over time. Back in the early 1990s, Hong Kong was the largest port in the world and represented over 25% of Chinese GDP. It now represents around 2.5%.
By Vibha Vallabh
The law governing trusts in New Zealand has been amended in its entirety with the Trusts Act 2019, which will come into force 30 January 2021.
The new law applies to express trusts and in reading the Act, the changes are for the better. Although not an exhaustive code, it explicitly makes the trustee more accountable by setting out the trustee’s fundamental obligations when managing and administering a trust. These are often unknown to the non-professional trustee which has led to some interesting case law as a result
By Vibha Vallabh
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the settlor of a trust should not meddle in trust affairs. The tussle between settlor desire for control and proper trustee independence is an ancient one.
The role of trustee is somewhat precarious at the best of times, and yet, trust fundamentals remain unchanged since the Crusades. Over the course of time, the adoption of new fashionable industry practices has seen this creature evolve in order to accommodate the settlor’s every whim. But settlor desire has come a cropper in two recent legal judgments. However with a bit of inventiveness, settlor desires can accommodate traditional fundamentals and vice versa.
By Andrew Tarpey
Westpac, Australia’s second largest bank, recently became embroiled in yet another anti-money laundering (AML) scandal to rock the banking sector in Australia, a sector that in November alone has seen two of the largest banks in the country face embarrassing headlines about noncompliance and has generated concerns about systemic problems in the boardrooms of Australian banks. The Westpac scandal was so severe and troubling that even Australian prime minister Scott Morrison weighed in, calling the AML breaches “appalling and distressing” and going so far to suggest an overhaul of leadership may be necessary. “It’s not for the government to say who should be in those jobs or not, but they should be taking this very seriously, reflecting on it very deeply, and taking the appropriate decisions for the protection of people’s interests in Australia,” said the prime minister.
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