After my post about the Permanent Portfolio which included physical gold, a reader asked me where he could open up a foreign bank account to store gold. Well, in the Appendix of the book Fail-Safe Investing, the author did list specific banks that allow U.S. investors to open account and buy gold within them. Here they are:
Anglo-Irish Bank [Austria]
Phone: 011-431 406-6161
Anker Bank / BDGE Group [Switzerland]
Phone: 011-4121 321-0707
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce [Switzerland]
Phone: 011-4121 215-6087
UeberseeBank / AIG Private Bank
Phone: 011-411 267-5555
Browne makes it sound that opening an account at one of these places is as simple as opening an online account with no physical branch near you. He also states that these are either Swiss or Austrian banks, which are bound by the laws of those countries, not the countries of their parent companies. Now, I can’t attest to the accuracy of this list, as the book was last updated around 2001 and I have no personal experience with any of them. Please perform your own due diligence.
The reasons for buying gold in a foreign bank account are primarily to provide a safe store of assets in case of very unlikely (but still possible) situations like war, government collapse/confiscating of assets, or other crisis. I’m not going to participate myself as I see the risks outweigh the benefits – cost, complexity, chance of fraud or loss, etc. – but if you read some of the stories from Argentina’s economic collapse it can get scary.
As for legality, it would seem to be perfect legit. You are simply storing physical gold there. Gold does not produce dividends or interest, so you’d only be liable for taxes if you sold them at a profit.