The unfolding fall-out from the leaked 'Paradise Papers' leaves many investors with assets held off-shore in complex structures concerned about those assets and their tax position.
There are a myriad of reasons why assets are held off-shore. Many investors entered into off-shore arrangements some years ago as part of wealth management and / or retirement planning, paying large arrangement fees and after having taken tax advice. Now investors are increasingly concerned about historic arrangements and left questioning whether it is time for arrangements to be unwound or assets to be returned to the UK and if so whether that is even possible.
Whilst each investor's position is different, the arrangements and documentation may appear so complex investors and their financial advisers can struggle to ascertain how and where the assets are now held, let alone whether those assets can legally be repatriated and if so what steps are needed to preserve and return assets. There may be many documents with apparently conflicting provisions and each governed by a different law and jurisdiction. A range of legal structures may be used to hold assets, including all different kinds of corporates, trusts and pension schemes. It is critical to take independent highly specialist legal advice from advisers completely unconnected with establishing the structure because the real legal effect of documents individually and collectively may be very different to the investor's understanding of the position at the outset and a long way from what the investor originally intended. If investments originate from pension schemes then that can introduce additional issues which must be factored into the evaluation. The outcome of the evaluation may provide an unexpected route to unravelling the arrangement and the return assets to the UK.
Whilst investors will wish to ensure assets are protected in the offshore jurisdictions, back home they will need to ensure the appropriate engagement with HMRC and that their legal rights to privacy, confidentiality and data protection are respected and, if necessary, asserted.
How we can help
Pensions & Dispute Resolution: Assessing the legitimacy of pension and employee benefit trust schemes used within these arrangements; mitigating associated tax and HMRC risks and obtaining compensation for pension related losses. Advising on complex and high value disputes, including potential pension scams and obtaining urgent injunctive relief across different jurisdictions to secure and recover assets.
Reputation & Information Protection: Advice on using the law of confidentiality, privacy and/or data protection, and the broadcasting and press codes of practice, to protect our clients' valuable reputations and private information, both at the pre-publication / broadcast stage, and during and following publication when damage needs to be mitigated or compensated and the record set straight. Our team of lawyers is available to provide urgent round-the-clock advice, to negotiate with the media and/or to take emergency and effective legal action.
For further information please get in touch.
Partner, Co-Head of Tech Group