Banking in the Philippines

With tax rates ranging from 5% to 35%, the Philippines can hardly be called a tax haven.

And yet, in a very public “guilty until proven innocent” attack several months ago, the OECD black listed the Philippines along with Uruguay, Malaysia, and Costa Rica.

The OECD is an aged, irrelevant organization comprised of mostly insolvent western nations; the organization has a penchant for bullying smaller countries into changing both their laws and local culture in order to assimilate.

Frankly, these coercive tactics constitute modern day imperialism and demonstrate an overwhelmingly ignorant worldview.

Case in point, the OECD has gotten itself into a twist over the years because Singapore issues a 10,000 Singapore dollar (roughly $7,000 US) note.  The OECD views this as a crystal clear indication of money laundering.

Hardly the case… carrying a lot of cash is merely a cultural tendency in many parts of Asia, so the government makes a super-sized bank note.  Western bureaucrats ignore this simple reality and instead try to beat smaller countries into submission.

The Philippines has recently fallen victim– but so far has only suffered a flesh wound. I spent a large part of my day today talking to bankers here in Manila; the general consensus among them is that  financial transparency has increased in the Philippines… but only slightly.

For example, bankers in the Philippines do not require personal information on beneficial shareholders for corporate accounts.  This is a stark contrast to other popular banking destinations like Panama (which did not make the OECD black list).

Honestly, there are not too many banking jurisdictions that do not require beneficial shareholder information for corporate accounts. Off the top of my head, I can think of the Philippines… and…. oh, right: The United States of America.

Funny how the Philippines ended up on the black list and the US was the one leading the charge.  But I digress.

Customer information at Philippine banks is not shared with tax authorities… or any other authority for that matter.  The one exception is by judicial decree, and only if the customer is undergoing litigation in the Philippines.

To open an individual account, a prospective customer must provide two valid forms of identification, a photograph, and an ‘alien certificate of registration,’ which indicates residency disposition.

For non-resident foreigners, the easiest thing to get around residency requirements is incorporate a business– in this case, the Department of Trade will provide certification.

Assuming all the documentation is in order, it only takes about 10-15 minutes to open an account, and at many branches the ATM card (on the worldwide Maestro network) can be acquired immediately.

Bank accounts can be opened in a variety of currencies, including US dollar, Philippine peso, euro, yen, and Australian dollar. Furthermore, bank accounts in the Philippines are protected by a depository insurance organization similar to the FDIC (except that it’s not insolvent).

The “PDIC” as it is called, insures deposits up to 500,000 Pesos or equivalent (roughly $10,000).

I met with the branch manager at one of the larger banks in the Philippines… they are willing to accept customers of any nationality as long as the basic requirements I described above are met.  I have no personal experience with any of the banks here though, so I cannot vouch for anyone specifically.

About the author

James Hickman (aka Simon Black) is an international investor, entrepreneur, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter Notes from the Field is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom, make more money, keep more of it, and protect it all from bankrupt governments.

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