It’s not just money that Swiss banks have been hemorrhaging clients lately. As Swiss and other private banks are increasingly moving asset protection and wealth management functions to Singapore subsidiaries, another interesting news item recently was the opening of Singapore FreePort.
Singapore FreePort is a state-of-the-art secure storage facility that operates in its own duty-free zone adjacent to Singapore’s Changi Airport. The largest such facility in the world (270,000 square feet to be precise) it provides wealthy collectors with tax-free storage for their valuables.
“When you go to a bank and rent a safe, nobody knows what goes in. It’s the same thing here,” says Alain Vandenborre, president and co-founder of Singapore FreePort. “They only need to give a code that indicates the broad nature of the item-gold, wine or a painting. There’s no value, no ownership, no inventory list-all details are confidential. We offer more confidentiality than Geneva.”
Switzerland and neighboring Austria, home to the famous Das Safe, have typically been the jurisdictions of choice for ‘offshore’ storage of valuables. Geneva’s tax free port, for example, was established in 1888. But regulations and pressure are encouraging Swiss operators to look elsewhere.
It’s no surprise, therefore, to find that the majority shareholder is Natural Le Coultre, the largest art-storage and logistics operator at the Geneva Free Port. The new Singapore facility was planned by Swiss architects, Swiss engineers and Swiss security consultants.
Private rooms and vaults, barricaded by seven-ton doors, line the corridors. Unlike the free-port facilities in Switzerland, however, which are simply secure warehouses, the Singapore FreePort sought to combine security and style. A gigantic arching sculpture entitled “Cage sans Frontières,” (Cage Without Borders) spans the entire lobby.
All in all, this facility looks like an excellent choice for those looking to store valuables in a secure and tax-neutral territory.