The Largest Duty-Free Safe Storage Area in the World

A perfect place to store gold bullion offshore? We expect gold storage operators will be opening shortly in the Singapore free zone. Peter Macfarlane reports below…

It’s not just money that Swiss banks have been haemorrhaging lately (as reported in our last Q Bytes). As Swiss and other private banks are increasingly moving asset protection and wealth management functions to Singapore banks, another interesting news item this past week was the opening of Singapore FreePort.

Singapore FreePort is a state-of-the-art secure storage facility that operates in its own duty-free zone adjacent to Singapore’s Changi Airport. The largest such facility in the world (270,000 square feet to be precise) it provides wealthy collectors with tax-free storage for their valuables.

“When you go to a bank and rent a safe, nobody knows what goes in. It’s the same thing here,” says Alain Vandenborre, president and co-founder of Singapore FreePort. “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.”

Switzerland and neighboring Austria, home to the famous Das Safe, have typically been the jurisdictions of choice for ‘offshore’ storage of valuables. Geneva’s tax free port, for example, was established in 1888. But regulations and pressure are encouraging Swiss operators to look elsewhere.

It’s no surprise, therefore, to find that the majority shareholder is Natural Le Coultre, the largest art-storage and logistics operator at the Geneva Free Port. The new Singapore facility was planned by Swiss architects, Swiss engineers and Swiss security consultants.

Private rooms and vaults, barricaded by seven-ton doors, line the corridors. Unlike the free-port facilities in Switzerland, however, which are simply secure warehouses, the Singapore FreePort sought to combine security and style. A gigantic arching sculpture entitled “Cage sans Frontières,” (Cage Without Borders) spans the entire lobby.

We’ll be covering this facility in more depth in our Singapore report, due out over the summer for Q Wealth members. In the meantime, if you are not already on the distribution list for our free Q Bytes newsletter, please sign up here to receive more news like this directly in your inbox. We value your privacy.

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