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Compass Group - Vigal & Simon - Bogus Belize Trust
Internal Administrator
Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011
Joined: 10/12/2010
Posts: 5780

Posted: 10/1/2009 1:13:09 PM

By: Sleaze in Belize

Looks like a certain law firm in Seattle doing business with Compass Group in Belize set up a trust for their client after being introduced by the client's bankruptcy counsel... In just how many ways did things go terribly wrong in this case?

Here's the news article:

For a copy of the complaint describing the efforts of Vigal & Simon's attorneys to jam this through with Compass in Belize, check out this:

Funny thing is, I highly doubt anyone in their right mind would keep any money in Belize. So the question is, Where did the money go? My guess is the first set of interrogatories ought to square that little detail away... I smell a seizure order in the making.

Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011

Posted: 10/2/2009 11:43:33 AM

By: Scott Smathers

The attorney planner in this case, Mary Simon, is a disciple of the (allegedly, late) Scott Smathers, whose books include:


Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011

Posted: 10/2/2009 10:53:43 AM

By: knightmare3000

about how 84 business people could fall prey to this: you know in some of the magazines , emails, and newsletters offered by Michael Checkan's ASSET STRATEGIES INTERNATIONAL ( ASI) they still advertise for the Compass bank in Belize. there are still enough airline magazines in the back pockets of airlines that have mentioned the old Jerome Schneider's book on Tax Havens and asset protection trusts.and there are people like Barry Engel,esq in Englewood,COLO that have seminars from time to time on asset protection trusts usually at airport motels/hotels. so it is no surprise that some business people contacted this outfit to see what they could do. my guess is that it will bring further trouble for them. if they had gone to a reputable law firm when troubles with the business/bankruptcy first occurred they probably could have salvaged something out of it or at most re-financed it with the creditors in agreement with the financial bailout. so much for airport seminars and advertising in ASI newsletters. good luck and best wishes.

Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011

Posted: 10/2/2009 7:26:00 AM

By: Offshore Atty

I for one have always found Jay Adkisson's advice rather canned; it is difficult to disagree with the obvious, and Jay tends to point out the obvious. You never quite get Jay to commit to a specific strategy for fear that he will be challenged, although he will offer up plenty of reasons why the other guy's advice is bad. His book struck me as not terribly scholarly, but -- to be fair to Jay -- I think he was aiming for the consumer market. But that's all beside the point.

I would agree that the critical inquiry is whether the creditor can locate assets in the U.S. or a U.S.-judgment friendly jurisdiction. I tend to doubt that anyone with serious wealth would put their money in a Belize bank. So the creditor will likely get a default judgment against the trustee and proceed to collect in the U.S. or any other jurisdiction where those assets can be found (and where a default judgment from the U.S. is likely to be recognized, which is pretty much everywhere that matters). Assuming these lawyers have not invested much thought in how to properly place the assets (and, based on the pleadings, it appears that the assets have not really moved at all), expect this trust to implode rather quickly.

The creditors could lean on the lawyers, both as facilitators of the fraudulent transfers and as directors of the Belize trust company. It is interesting that the lawyers were not named in the lawsuit, individually or in firm name, whereas their trust company was named. Perhaps this is an unwritten rule of courtesy unique to the Seattle Bar, or maybe the creditors have determined that they have little ground to stand on in adding the lawyers as co-defendants.

Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011

Posted: 10/2/2009 2:50:14 AM

By: froggy

An Asset Protection Plan that is horribly wrong from the begining!!!!

They should have read Jay Atkinson's books before anything...

Mistakes :

- Transfer of assets without any consideration : badge of fraud is evident there
- Retaining control over the assets in trust : they are wrong there again as now they will have to repatriate the assets.
- Belize : does not recognise "fraudulent transfer" in trust law but US courts have always refused to apply Belize law (Re Portnoy)
- Documents from attorneys can be subpoenaed (not covered by client attorney privilege)...

I stop there but wonder how an 84 astute businessman can fall in such trap...

Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011

Posted: 10/1/2009 1:18:39 PM

By: Sleaze in Belize II

It gets more interesting... According to the complaint, the Vigal & Simon website advertises:

"The principals of Vigal & Simon are on the board of directors of Compass Trust Corporation and Compass Group Corporate Services in Belize City, Belize."

This ought to be an interesting course in "How Not to Do a Trust with Your Lawyer."

Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011

Posted: 10/5/2009 10:59:34 AM

By: Really poor advice

"no USA based law firm can really effectively set up anything offshore. you need an offshore firm to be objective"

Most idiotic advise ever. As least for U.S. clients, they get into trouble and go to jail, etc., not because they broke the laws of the offshore jurisdiction, but because the broke U.S. laws.

U.S. lawyers help many thousands of large corporations EVERY DAY with various offshore matters, and many tens- if not hundreds-of-thousands of affluent clients or those with international families, perfectly legally and without hassles from any government.

Even if you are talking about a small-dollar idiot who is trying to hide a few chocolate chips in a secret offshore account in Uruguay, Andorra, Latvia, or some other half-ass jurisdiction where the money is more likely to disappear than not, that person needs quality U.S. counsel to at least know what lines they are crossing, and to assist them with taking the tax law when the money finally does disappear offshore.

Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011

Posted: 10/5/2009 10:36:08 AM

By: knightmare3000

you are right that Barry Engle,esq did not specifically use Belize. however,he did publish a magazine called OFFSHORE that ran from about 1992 until 1997. in it Belize banks were advertised. likewise Micheal Checkan"s Asset strategies international (an offshoot of the sovereign society) advertised Belize banks. now then it is my observation that people ,law firms included, see these ads.they hear what legitimate firms make setting up trusts.then they try to establish something offshore--at places like Belize--whether they have any expertise doing it or not. oftentimes it has disasterous consequences as in this case. they see the ad and figure they shall try it or assume one offshore outfit is as good as another. at least that is how the sell the client on the if you ever go offshore make certain that the law firm has some experience in offshore matters. as one lawyer told me,no USA based law firm can really effectively set up anything offshore. you need an offshore firm to be objective

Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011

Posted: 10/4/2009 11:42:17 AM

By: Offshore Atty

More on the junk asset protection that Vigal & Simon pawns off as "effective" planning... The trustee's lawsuit cites Vigal & Simon's website as saying, "First, create a Delaware series LLC and then hold the membership in each series through a Belize asset protection trust." The pleadings show how Vigal & Simon then titled assets, like the house and cars, in each series.

Yada, yada, yada... The assets have never left the jurisdiction, and the use of these entities is so much of a shell game. The lawyers seem to have engaged in no critical analysis as to how the assets could properly be protected (not likely available in this case, in any event); just lame efforts at sticking meaningless labels on assets that remain in the jurisdiction. My four year old could do a better job at asset protection than these clowns.

Mastro's going to learn the hard way that you always lose playing three-card Monty, especially when your clown lawyers are directors of the offshore asset protection trustee firm!

Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011

Posted: 10/4/2009 6:12:47 AM

By: Offshore Atty

I do not know anything about Simon, Smathers, or the other names posted here. Knightmare 3000 and I periodically exchange comments about asset protection planning attorneys on this board. I just wish to point out that, to my knowledge, Barry Engle and his group do not work with any operators in Belize, nor would I expect them to for the same reasons that I have pointed out: What good is setting up a trust in Belize if you cannot safely keep your assets there?

There are plenty of "offshore" trust jurisdictions to choose from that have credible, creditworthy banks and protective trust laws. Going to Belize is perhaps one step above hiding your money in Libya and one step below stashing it in your freezer.

Posted: Saturday, August 13, 2011

Posted: 10/2/2009 4:31:42 PM

By: fsdthe

Are these guys involved with Lidio Rancharan...the other sleaze from Belize?


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