© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A Giant, Secret Vault Where Rich People Store Their Stuff Tax-Free

Freeports are the safe-deposit boxes of the offshore tax-haven world — fancy vaults where rich people store their Picassos and gold bars with maximal safety, minimal scrutiny and special tax exemptions.

Not surprisingly, the classic freeport is in Geneva. Last year, a Times reporter asked an art insurer to value the art stored there. "I doubt you've got a piece of paper wide enough to write down all the zeros," the insurer said.

Singapore, which is basically becoming the new Switzerland, opened in 2010. "When you go to a bank and rent a safe, nobody knows what goes in. It's the same thing here," one of the founders of the Singapore freeport told the WSJ when the facility opened. "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."

In the years since, space at the Freeport has been snapped up by the likes of Christie's auction house and ("the finest wine cellarage for wine collectors and connoisseurs"). Now, the FT reports, Deutschebank is opening a vault inside the freeport that will hold 200 metric tons of gold.

Quartz brings the story to our attention, along with this awesome-but-way-too-long promotional video from inside the Singapore freeport:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Related Content