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Investment trusts were traditionally set up and managed in the UK, but there is a significant number of investment companies domiciled offshore in the Channel Islands or elsewhere. Many are quoted on the London Stock Exchange, so it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart from onshore companies.

Many well-known UK firms run investment companies offshore, including Aberdeen, F&C, Henderson and Standard Life Investments; but there are also lesser-known and overseas providers such as CATCo Investment Management, Juridica Asset Management and Phaunos Boston.

There are now 116 offshore investment companies among the Association of Investment Companies’ (AIC) current membership of 399, making up 29 per cent of the association.

Some of the earliest ‘investment trust’ entities were formed as common law trusts, while others were structured as companies from the start. But the trusts soon converted to companies, which also had the advantage that they could borrow money. However, the term ‘investment trust company’ persisted.

Onshore companies also had to abide by a specific set of rules. By setting up offshore, investment companies have been able to take advantage of a different regime, which has proved more tax-efficient for some companies but has, more importantly, given them more flexibility on distribution of income.

When Henderson Far East Income moved from being an onshore to being an offshore company it said the main reason was ‘the Company will not be subject to UK corporation tax, which should significantly increase its net distributable income’.

However, according to Nathan Brown at stockbroker Numis Securities: ‘The primary reason is because offshore companies can pay their dividends from any source. They do not have to come out of income or realised profits.

‘They can, for example, be paid out of uninvested cash. In Guernsey, as long as a company is solvent, it can also return any amount of capital to shareholders. This means companies can be more confident of maintaining a steady flow of income.’

From an investor’s point of view, there is little difference between companies based on- and offshore according to Annabel Brodie-Smith, the AIC’s communications director. She says: ‘There are far more similarities than differences between UK investment trusts and offshore closed-ended investment companies.

‘They are all closed-ended, listed on a stock exchange, with an independent board of directors, and all have the freedom to gear to enhance returns, and all have similar investment flexibility; for example, they are able to invest in unlisted assets. From a corporate governance perspective, all have to report against the UK Corporate Governance Code.’

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Onshore vs offshore investment companies

A Texas man who ran a firm that claimed to make virtual currency-based investments was accused of masterminding a $4.5 million Ponzi scheme in what U.S. prosecutors said was a first-of-its-kind case tied to bitcoins.

Trendon Shavers, founder of Bitcoin Savings and Trust, raised at least 764,000 bitcoins by promising investors a return of as much as 3,641 percent, prosecutors said. Instead, he used bitcoins from new investors to cover payments owed to earlier clients, while also tapping into the currency to pay for his own Las Vegas gambling and spa treatments, they said.

At the peak of his scheme in 2011 and 2012, Shavers held about 7 percent of all bitcoins in circulation, they said.

Shavers managed to combine financial and cyber-fraud into a bitcoin Ponzi scheme that offered absurdly high interest payments and ultimately cheated his investors, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan said in a statement today.

Shaverss arrest comes as the U.S. intensifies its scrutiny of bitcoins. Prosecutors last year charged Ross William Ulbricht with running the $1.2 billion online bazaar called Silk Road in which drug dealers used the digital currency to buy heroin, phony passports and hacking services. He denies wrongdoing. Today, Bharara accused another man, Blake Benthall, with operating a virtually identical site called Silk Road 2.0.

Shavers, 32, was arrested today at his home in McKinney, Texas, by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. Hes charged with securities fraud and wire fraud, which carry maximum prison sentences of 20 years. Hes scheduled to appear in federal court in Sherman, Texas.

In September, Shavers and Bitcoin Savings were fined $40.6 million in a civil suit by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The case was the first to determine whether the SEC had authority to regulate transactions in virtual currency.

According to prosecutors, Shavers, using the name pirateat40, solicited investments in his company on Bitcoin Forum, an online site, by offering weekly interest of as much as 7 percent. Those lending the firm bitcoins were told they could withdraw the investments at any time, prosecutors said.

Shavers told investors their bitcoins would be used to support a market-arbitrage strategy that included lending them, trading them on online exchanges and selling them locally in private transactions, according to the U.S.

Shavers largely failed to execute the investment strategy, prosecutors said. Rather, he used new bitcoins to cover interest payments and meet investor withdrawal requests, Bharara said. He also used investor funds for day trading in his own account on a bitcoin-currency exchange and exchanged bitcoins into U.S. currency that paid personal expenses such as gambling and a $1,000 steakhouse meal.

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Bitcoin Firm Head Charged in First-of-Kind Ponzi Case

Nov 072014

Two investors in Freedom Communications are asking a Delaware court to put the Santa Ana newspaper company into receivership, saying the owner of the Orange County Register is “insolvent” and beset by “mismanagement.”

The lawsuit by minority shareholders is the latest sign of strife at a company that this year has endured rounds of layoffs, lawsuits, leadership shake-ups and the launching and closing of a new daily paper in Los Angeles.

Abbey Financial and Old Colony 2012 Investment Fund said in their complaint, filed confidentially with the Delaware Chancery Court last week and disclosed this week, that Freedom needs independent oversight as soon as possible.

The investors said the operation faces an emergency “posed by an imminent sale of a significant real estate asset and the financial distress of the company due to mismanagement.”

The complaint alleges that Freedom co-owners Aaron Kushner and Eric Spitz allowed lender Silver Point Finance to have outsized influence over the media company’s financial decisions, including a planned sale of a 14.3-acre plot surrounding the Register’s Santa Ana headquarters.

Initial offers on the site were due on Oct. 22, said Justin Esayian of the Hoffman Co., the brokerage representing Freedom. Freedom didn’t set an asking price but received a substantial number of offers, which it is reviewing, Esayian said.

Abbey and Old Colony supported the land sale a year ago, said Freedom spokesman Eric Morgan. He called their complaint “meritless and unfounded” and said Freedom is not considering filing for bankruptcy.

Morgan said, the court rejected the investors’ motion Thursday to expedite the appointment of a receiver. Attorneys for the investors did not respond to requests for comment.

In alleging that Freedom is insolvent, the complaint said the company has spent at least the past nine months “placating” creditors that have been pressuring the firm “to the detriment of other creditors.”

Silver Point, a subsidiary of Silver Point Capital in Greenwich, Conn., holds the mortgages on all of Freedom’s real property as well as a first priority lien on the company’s other assets, according to the complaint.

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Receiver sought for O.C. Register

Nov 062014

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BitFury Capital, the investment arm of leading Bitcoin infrastructure provider and Bitcoin transaction processing company BitFury Group, today announced a strategic investment into GoCoin.

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BitFury Group Selects GoCoin to Enable Processing of Digital Currencies

EB45 State of Bitcoin Q3 2014: Price, Payment Infrastructure, Adoption, Investment, Regulation
StateOfBitcoin live #hangout Join the original +Epicenter Bitcoin crew as +Brian F Crain and +Sebastien Couture discus the latest _State of Bitcoin report_ released by +CoinDesk on…

By: Epicenter Bitcoin

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EB45 State of Bitcoin Q3 2014: Price, Payment Infrastructure, Adoption, Investment, Regulation – Video

Remember bitcoins?

The digital currency swam into the average person’s attention last December, when the price of a single bitcoin reached about $1,150. The Winklevoss twins, who gained fame from their connection with the founding of Facebook, announced plans for a bitcoin investment fund. The airwaves and news columns loaded up with declarations about how bitcoins were the biggest threat to the banking system since bankers were invented. The bitcoin creed was about defeating evil central bankers with freedom and libertarianism.

Since then thousands of businesses announced they would accept bitcoins for goods and services. That level of interest should have kept the price of bitcoins stable, because theoretically their value is tied to their acceptance.

What’s happened instead is that the price of bitcoins has plummeted, especially over this past weekend. The coins were quoted late Monday at $333.88 by CoinDesk, a bitcoin information service, up a bit after bottoming out at about $290. Many of the bitcoin faithful are in paroxysms of grief over the price collapse.

The main problem is that no one in the bitcoin community can adequate explain the price action. Accordingly, rumors and speculation abound. Some think it’s the advent of new regulations on “virtual currencies” coming from New York State banking regulators.

Another theory is that Chinese computer programmers have sharply stepped up their “mining” of bitcoins. (The bitcoin supply can be increased only when programmers solve an increasingly complex algorithm, which requires ever-more-powerful computers.) Some even think that bitcoin’s success in the marketplace is its own enemy, on the theory that merchants accepting bitcoins rapidly convert them to dollars or other hard currencies, which drives down the price. And then there are bitcoin believers who dismiss the plunge as merely an artifact of bitcoins’ natural volatility.

What’s hard to dispute is that the long-term price decline underscores the dangers of bitcoins as an investment. As we observed last year, bitcoin fans can be divided roughly into two categories: investment enthusiasts and transactional users.

Investment enthusiasts see bitcoins as the next best thing to gold–a currency/commodity that will retain intrinsic value, or even gain value, as the world goes to hell. Just as gold never loses its glitter, the argument is that bitcoins are immune from manipulation from the gnomes of international finance in central banks and central governments.

For those who bought into this argument and collected bitcoins as the price rose to $1,000 and beyond, the decline is nauseating. One investor’s post on’s r/bitcoin forum was headlined “Desperate: How long to hold out / What would you do in my situation.” The poster said he or she already had lost more than $100,000 this year, on an investment at an average cost of $623 per coin. “So far i am down a lot.” (No kidding.)

For those who use bitcoins as transactional instruments–that is, to move money in and out of currencies or across national borders without financial authorities interfering–the price might be irrelevant. That’s the view of Stanford University economist Susan Athey, an expert in crypto-currencies. Athey told us last year that if you’re selling goods in bitcoins and exchanging them for dollars, or trying to transfer your wealth from yuan in Beijing to euros in Frankfort, “inprinciple, you need to only worry about the exchange rate for 10 minutes…. The point is that we have a new technology that allows any individual in the world to send value from one place to another instantly, in a way that’s secure and verifiable.”

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Bye-bye, bitcoin? The crypto-currency's price agonies intensify

Reddit is considering creating a cryptocurrency backed by shares of the company. These shares would then be redistributed back to the community in recognition of the role it has played in the sites success.

Or that at least is the plan for some of the $50 million the company raised in funding from a group of investors that include Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, Alfred Lin of Sequoia Capital and Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz.

Other investors participating in the round, according to CEO Yishan Wongs blog post on the subject, include Peter Thiel, Ron Conway, Paul Buchheit, Jared Leto, Jessica Livingston, Kevin and Julia Hartz, Mariam Naficy, Josh Kushner, Snoop Dogg, and Yishan Wong.

The capital will be applied to a number of projects, Wong wrotethe company plans to hire more staff for product development, expand the community management team, build better moderation and community tools, work more closely with third party developers to expand its mobile offerings, improve the self-serve ad product, build out Redditgifts marketplace and invest in the infrastructure.

The investors also pledged to give back 10 percent of their shares to the community. In the comments section, Wong went into more detail about how that could occur.

We are thinking about creating a cryptocurrency and making it exchangeable (backed) by those shares of reddit, and then distributing the currency to the community. The investors have explicitly agreed to this in their investment terms.

Nothing like this has ever been done before. Basically we have to nail down how to do each step correctly (it is technically, legally, and financially complex), though in our brief consultation with an ex-SEC lawyer, he stated he could find nothing illegal about this plan. Nevertheless, there are something like 30 different things we have to pull off to make this work, so were going to try.

Wong freely acknowledges the plan could fail and if it does, its back to the drawing board for a plan to reward the community.

But it is unlikely Reddit would junk the entire project without salvaging something from it.

Last month Daily Dot noted that Reddit was seeking a cryptocurrency engineersomeone with a background in math or computer science to explore new technology applications and infrastructure involving the blockchain and cryptocurrency.

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Reddit's Cryptocurrency Could Have Many Uses

GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands, Oct. 2, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Leading international offshore law firm Walkers returns with the Walkers Fundamentals Investment Funds seminar series, taking place this year in London, New York and San Francisco. Each seminar will feature a keynote speaker, with Economics Editor, writer and broadcaster, Robert Peston, speaking at the London event. Named by London's …

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Walkers Hosts Fundamentals Seminars in US and London

Self-styled front page of the Internet site is flush with case all of a sudden, after confirimg a new $50 million funding round. Its a bucket-load of cash to be sure, but whats more interesting is that the site is promising as much as 10 percent of the amount will be shared with community members through the creation of a new cryptocurrency.

Reddit users do deserve a share of the spoils, for theyve helped make the site the huge success it is today. One thing its particularly good at is spotting Internet trends and news long before the mainstream media does, and of course its a great place to find things like stolen nude celebrity photos or hunt for terrorists.

Reddit CEO Yishan Wong wrote in a blog post that the investors have agreed to hand over 10 percent of their shares to community members, as part of the terms of the deal. However, it seems Reddit doesnt know exactly how its proposed cryptocurrency will work just yet. It could be that the cryptocurrency is used as a kind of ownership token of shares in the site a concept thats been proposed by several crypto 2.0 projects in the past.

Nor is Reddit the only company to announce a plan like this made a similar announcement last July.

Wong attempted to clarify things on the r/blog subreddit, saying that the idea is to create a special-purpose cryptocurrency backed by the values of shared created by this funding round. We are thinking about creating a cryptocurrency and making it exchangeable (backed) by those shares of reddit, and then distributing the currency to the community, wrote Wong. The investors have explicitly agreed to this in their investment terms.

Given the potential benefits for site users, Wong feels the idea is worth trying, although he warns that Reddit is currently just exploring the idea. CAVEAT: KEEP IN MIND THAT THIS PLAN COULD TOTALLY FAIL, he added in a later post.

As for the rest of the money, Reddit plans on using it to bolster its production development staff and community management teams, and to increase its mobile presence. Just this month, Reddit launched an official mobile app for its popular Ask Me Anything sessions, so we can expect to see more developments in this area.

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Reddit gets $50m funding, plans new cryptocurrency to share the wealth

(MENAFN – QNA) South Korean companies and individuals invested nearly US23 billion in 50 tax havens over the past seven years, data showed Sunday.

According to the data by the National Tax Service and the Export-Import Bank of Korea, South Korean individuals and companies invested 22.77 billion in the tax havens from 2007 through 2013.

The amount represents about 12% of overall overseas investments made by South Korea worth 197.88 trillion won about (US189.4 billion) during the period, according to South Korea’s (Yonhap) News Agency.

Of the tax haven investments, 79.6% were made by big local companies, while 9.6% were made by small and mid-sized companies.

The money going to the tax havens has been on the rise since 2009 when the country was hit by the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis, coming in at 5.41 trillion won in 2013.

The ratio of the tax haven investment to South Korea’s overall overseas investment rose to 17.4% last year from 8% in 2007.

Conglomerates contributed the most to the increase, the lawmaker who demanded the data said.

“The rise in the investment to tax havens was due mostly to local big companies’ increased investment (there),” Rep. Oh Jae-sae of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy said. “We need to keep closer tabs on their move to use the tax havens as it could lead to tax evasion.”

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S. Koreans, Firms Invest nearly US$23 Billion in Tax Havens

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LXC Coin will work with a network of P2P lenders across the world, and could evolve into its own P2P vehicle over the coming years.

Unlike many other cryptocurrencies, the LXC Coin is real, according to Ellefsen. If crypocurrencies were banned tomorrow – and Russia is looking to do that right now – our coin would keep its value. You could reclaim your investment from us.

Cryptocurrencies havent been real money until now, he claims.

Bitcoin, which currently trades for around $500 per coin, is seen as a volatile currency by investors. It can lose up to 30pc of its value in a single day. LXC Coin will control supply and demand, much like a central bank, ensuring a consistent price for the coin.

Some 1.1bn of these new coins will be issued over the next four to five years.

The LXC Coin is based on the code from the worlds most famous cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, mixed with BlackCoin technology. Unlike Bitcoin, BlackCoin does not have to be mined. It is based on a proof of stake concept, which means that it has become a dominant digital currency through the sheer proliferation of coins held in wallets by users.

By using the BlackCoin model, LXC Coin does not require vast amounts of computing power and electricity to exist.

Customers must pay hard cash or exchange it for other digital currencies.

The company was founded in Denmark in 2012 and became a UK holding company in 2014.

Ellefsen chose to raise money on Crowd For Angels, the UKs FCA-regulated debt and equity platform, to generate awareness for the start-up and prove that its model was FCA compliant.

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LXC Coin crowdfunds in challenge to Bitcoin

By Paul McBeth

Sept. 5 (BusinessDesk) – ASX-listed Freedom Foods Group bought almost one million shares of A2 Milk Co this week for about $589,000 after its stake was diluted in the past year due to the issue of partly-paid shares.

The Sydney-based food company bought 942,500 shares in four transactions in A2 this week at an average price of about 62.5 cents, according to a substantial shareholder notice filed to the NZX. Freedom Foods holds about 117.9 million shares, or 17.9 percent of A2, leaving it as the biggest shareholder in the milk marketing company.

Because A2 issued partly-paid shares to executives earlier this year, Freedom Foods’ stake was diluted down from 18.1 percent when it made its last disclosure in December 2012.

Shares of A2 rose 1.6 percent to 63 cents today, and have dropped 23 percent this year. The stock is rated an average ‘buy’ based on four analyst recommendations compiled by Reuters, with a median target price of 80 cents.

Last month A2 reported a slump in annual profit to $10,000, even as sales rose 17 percent to $111 million, as a strong kiwi dollar eroded the value of revenue and earnings.

In its Aug. 29 results announcement, Freedom Foods said it intends to keep a strategic stake in A2 in the medium-term, while keeping the option to “realise capital from the investment to support growth opportunities.”

Freedom Foods said A2 offers “potentially significant value creation” through the milk marketing firm’s growth in Australia and international markets.

Shares of Freedom Foods rose 3.7 percent to A$3.12 on the ASX yesterday, and have climbed 13 percent this year.


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A2 shareholder Freedom Foods buys $589k of shares

Global Advisors (Jersey) Limited Bitcoin Investment Vehicle – GABI
Jersey aspires to be the leader in the digital currency revolution by playing a crucial role in the bitcoin ecosystem regulation. With this foundation, the director of Global Advisors (Jersey)…

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Global Advisors (Jersey) Limited Bitcoin Investment Vehicle – GABI – Video

I’ll be spending this holiday weekend with family, enjoying the last days of summer outdoors and preparing a meal or two on the grill. What do Labor Day grilling festivities and investing have in common? Plenty. Preparing the perfect meal requires an optimal balance of nutrients, just like building a portfolio requires the right savory combination of investments. Here’s how I would prepare a fixed income mixed grill.

Chicken as Treasuries

The most basic protein, chicken, is a fixture of any barbecue menu. The same can be said for Treasuries in a bond portfolio. Treasury securities, in a variety of maturities, provide more safety than any other investments as they are backed by the full faith and trust of the U.S. government, do not have a call provision, and provide a dependable income stream. They are also the ultimate diversifier for equities and other tasty higher-risk dessert items.

Investment Grade Steak

Just like a prime, choice, or select cut of beef, there are investment grade bonds that are rated according to credit quality. Investment grade describes bonds that are “AAA” or “AA” (high credit quality) and “A” to “BBB” (medium credit quality). As with those who love a good steak, investment grade bonds suit those who seek high quality in exchange for less risk. It may not be as lean as chicken, but it may provide a little more flavor in the form of extra yield.

High Yield Ribs

The decadent offering of barbecued ribs at a weekend party is similar to that of high yield fixed income investments. By taking on greater risk of spilling sauce on your shirt you have the experience of a true summertime staple, and with high yield fixed income investments you are positioned for potentially higher income. Just like the ribs, you don’t want to overdo it too much on high yield; put a sensible amount on your plate to get a taste of the flavor and little extra yield potential, but not so much that it leaves you feeling queasy from too much volatility.

Emerging Market Spicy Kebabs

For those who want a little more adventure on their menu, there’s always the option of adding some unique flavors like spicy kebabs. This is the equivalent of adding some emerging markets fixed income to your bond portfolio. You may run the risk of a little heartburn, with occasional volatility and currency risk, but no cookout is truly complete without a little spice thrown into the mix. It helps you balance out the blandness of some of the healthier options, and gives the overall meal a nice flavor kick. And here, flavor means yield potential.

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Barbecues, Beaches and Bonds: A Labor Day Story

May 252014

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A weekly column that puts the fun into learning

Lets admit it. Most of us get a little thrill out of finding new ways to save taxes. This is exactly what corporate biggies such as Google, IBM and Amazon have been doing too. Theyve been cleverly routing their global profits through subsidiaries set up in destinations called tax havens. This has been going on for long. But, having been denied their fair share of taxes, governments are now cracking the whip.

What is it?

Tax havens are countries that have low or near-zero tax rates, especially for some kinds of transactions. Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Mauritius are the popular ones. But the list includes others such as Luxembourg, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, the Netherlands and Bermuda too.

Multinationals set up their holding companies in these locations which then invest in operations located at other high-tax locations. So, even as the company carries out its real business in a high-tax regime such as the US or India, its able to dodge the taxman by showing a large share of profits as emanating from a tax haven.

But its not just companies; tax havens have something on offer for rich individuals too, promising complete confidentiality. Now youre wondering if everything about tax havens is so clandestine, why havent they been banned at the outset? Well, this is not how things were meant to be. When tax havens first sprang up, they came up in small countries endowed with limited natural resources or other competitive advantages. Such nations saw near-zero tax rates as a good way to attract reluctant foreign capital. But with corporations and affluent individuals taking advantage of the secrecy to save taxes, the whole thing went awry.

Why is it important?

Irked by tax revenue losses, governments have now begun to come down heavily on the menace of tax havens, threatening to revoke tax treaties and demanding more disclosures from them. In India, the phenomenon of routing black money to tax havens has given birth to what is called round-tripping. Foreign direct inflows from Mauritius, Indias second biggest source, totalled $4.5 billion during April-Feb of the last fiscal. But is the tiny island nation really such as industrial powerhouse? Not really. Cynics suspect a large part of the investment flowing in from Mauritius is actually Indian money sent abroad and routed back to avoid taxes. If its Mauritius for us, its British Virgin Islands for UK and Luxembourg for Russia.

The worry is that the anonymity that tax havens offer allows other kinds of illegal activity to flourish too. The world over billions made through illegal routes such as drug trafficking and arms smuggling are said to be laundered through tax havens.

Why should I care?

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All you wanted to know about tax havens

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