Simon Black

The Wall Street Journal published a disturbing article earlier this week entitled “Federal Asset Seizures Rise, Netting Innocent With Guilty.”

You can already imagine the crux of the article.

In the United States, there are hundreds of regulations which authorize dozens federal agencies to confiscate private property — homes, cars, bank accounts, gold, company shares, and even personal effects.

Ironically, most Americans still think that they live in a country where you’re innocent until proven guilty. Nothing could be further from the truth, and it’s just another clear example of how the US Constitution has become a worthless piece of toilet paper for the federal government.

The Fifth Amendment states that “No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Tell that James Lieto, a New York businessman who was relieved of $392,000 when the armored car company used by his check-cashing firm was taken down by the FBI.

Lieto was innocent and not implicated in any wrongdoing, but the FBI took his money regardless as it just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Last October, another businessman named Raul Stio was suspected of wrongdoing by the Treasury Department. The government seized over $150,000 from his account, yet in the 10-months that followed, Stio has still not been charged with a crime.

According to Justice Department statistics, the total value of confiscated property exceeded $2.5 billion in 2010, more than double from five years ago. The average take per case? $166,000…and the vast majority of cases were non-criminal.

It’s truly staggering to think about how much can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye, all without any judicial oversight or right to a hearing.

The reason could be anything. Maybe you violated some arcane, meaningless regulation among the hundreds of thousands of pages of US Code (ignorance of the law is NOT an excuse!). Maybe you were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Or maybe they had no real reason at all other than mere suspicion.

One minute you have money, the next you’re completely locked out of your wealth and livelihood. They force YOU to prove to them that you aren’t guilty, but they take away any means you had to defend yourself.

Look, this is the new reality in America. The entire country has become a nation of criminals — there isn’t a single man, woman, or child alive who is not in violation of some obscure regulation or cannot be ‘suspected’ of wrongdoing.

This is really just a form of cannibalism — a government feeding on its own citizens in order to keep the party going just a little bit longer. They’ll raise taxes, seize assets, take over pension funds, erode freedoms, start wars and send people to die — whatever it takes to maintain the status quo.

I’ve long advocated for an internationalization strategy: diversifying various assets and interests overseas so that no one single government has total control over your livelihood.

Store your gold in Switzerland. Open a bank account in Hong Kong. Register your company in the BVI. Establish a ‘backup’ residency in Chile. Expand your business in Brazil. Get a better job in Singapore. Obtain a second passport in Malta. Open a brokerage account in the Cayman Islands.

This approach is NOT just for the super rich. In fact, I’ve helped all kinds of people to internationalize, young and old, rich and poor.

Taking some simple steps to protect yourself will give you extraordinary peace of mind. You’ll know that, without doubt, you have some savings socked away that NOBODY can touch. You’ll know that you have a solid emergency backup plan. You’ll know that everything you’ve worked for won’t vanish in an instant.

Regards,

Simon Black,
for The Daily Reckoning

Simon Black

Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, and free man.

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