How Chinese Ultra-High-Net-Worth Individuals Can Protect Their Global Wealth from Seizure in a High-Tension World

Heightening geopolitical tensions have made many governments around the world willing to freeze and seize assets of individuals from disfavored countries. Chinese ultra-high-net-worth individuals are particularly at risk, but as our International Private Client team explains below, a globally coordinated strategy can be deployed to lawfully protect an individual’s legitimate rights and interests.

November 9, 2022

As global geopolitical tensions heighten, the growing ranks of Chinese ultra-high-net-worth individuals (“UHNWI”) should carefully consider whether their overseas high-value assets may become the eventual target of foreign government forfeiture efforts. 

Chinese buyers account for over 20% of London property purchases valued at over GBP 10m and the Chinese yacht industry market is projected to reach a size of US $1.2 billion by 2026. Both types of property are among those seized by increasingly bullish Western authorities.

This issue is on a uniquely global scale with the capacity to involve several jurisdictions around the world. Fortunately, there are legitimate steps Chinese UHNWIs and their advisors can take as part of a globally coordinated strategy to lawfully defend their rights and interests. These include (1) assessing the vulnerabilities of an individual’s global asset structures by considering the techniques used by foreign governments; (2) taking proactive steps to shore up defenses in the places that matter, including exploring alternative trust planning options and asset ringfencing in key offshore jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands, BVI, and elsewhere; and (3) proactively initiating parallel proceedings in friendlier jurisdictions.

Governments around the world have shown their increasing willingness to go after assets they suspect to be acquired via fraud or misconduct – especially against UHNWIs from jurisdictions they view unfavorably. UHNWIs with a team of counsel strategically positioned in key jurisdictions around the world to proactively mitigate risks (as opposed to reacting after the government proceedings commence) will be best-equipped to resist the encroaching authorities and maintain their legitimately-earned wealth. 

About Kobre & Kim’s International Private Client Team

Kobre & Kim is a global Am Law 200 law firm that focuses on cross-border disputes and investigations, often involving fraud and misconduct.

To preserve the assets, liberty and reputation of ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) with global business interests, our International Private Client team:

  • Provides offensive and defensive cross-border litigation and crisis management strategies in court and out-of-court;
  • Brings together roughly two dozen former U.S. and UK government lawyers across Asia, EMEA, Latin America and the U.S., including former prosecutors from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO);
  • Has deep experience with global foreign policy, national security and economic controls and regularly interfaces with regulatory agencies that impose these controls.
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