Earlier this month, a Sovereign Society member posted the link to an interesting article on my blog. The information was alarming, and I want to share it with you.
Indeed, when I checked with precious metals experts, none had ever heard of government agents doing what they did in May 2010 at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston – and what may be being done elsewhere. This was news to them – and to me.
A report in the Houston Chronicle stated that U.S. Immigration and Customs (ICE) agents and Border Protection officers at the airport seized over $250,000 in cash and almost $160,000 in gold and silver in 14 separate seizures from individual travelers during the month of May.
Keep in mind this report involves only one of many international airports and other entry and exit points in the U.S., so those figures can be multiplied many times over.
U.S. ICE agents have virtually unchecked power to seize any unreported currency under civil forfeiture laws, at which point their victim must begin a lengthy and costly legal battle to prove the confiscated property was legally theirs. But does this power extend to gold and other precious metals?
Big Brother’s greedy confiscation agents seem to be expanding their powers to grab your property – and you may never get it back.
But there are some precautionary measures you can take to protect your assets from being seized…
It Happened Before— Could It Happen Again?
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s gold confiscation order of 1933 is one of the most draconian economic acts in U.S. history.
But could it happen again?
Well, let’s see – in the 1930s, failing financial institutions, a suffering dollar and rising gold prices were a few of the conditions that led to the federal government’s confiscation of gold.
The current economic climate resembles that of 1933. We have a sinking currency and a ballooning national deficit. I wouldn’t put it past the politicians to justify confiscating gold as a means to stabilize the country’s monetary system. Our government today is more emboldened than ever in its refusal to be bound by the Constitution.
Fortunately, we’re not there yet – but we are headed in that direction.[]
Guilty Until Proven Innocent
We all know that the state of “freedom” in America today is precarious at best.
But who knew about the so-called SED Form? I spoke with a high FedEx official who confirmed that the form has been around for a long time, but they had never heard of it being used as an official excuse to grab gold from U.S. persons. FedEx told me it is a standard commercial shippers’ form used in international business.
The consequences of not having or stating incorrect information on this document known as a “Shipper’s Export Declaration Form” are severe. (This automated U.S. Census Bureau declaration is required when transporting any commodity in or out of the country valued at $2,500 or more.) The result can be seizure of the commodity, a fine up to $10,000 and/or … imprisonment!
Officers at the Houston Airport seized one bar of gold, two silver bullion bars and three bottles of gold nuggets – all because the travelers failed to file an SED.
Apparently, if you want to keep government claws off of your property, you’d better have an SED to accompany the gold or other precious metals you’re transporting in or out of the U.S. And if you don’t want to fight Big Brother tooth and nail, it’s also wise to obtain an appraised value document certifying the value of your property as well.
It’s Not Illegal to Transport Gold in or out of the U.S.
You have every right to personally transport physical gold or other precious metals in or out of the U.S. by air or other means. Don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise.
But if this latest gold grab episode is any indication, there now is a requirement to report such transfers if the total value of the precious metal you carry is $2500 or more.
For years, there’s been a lot of heated discussion as to whether the U.S. government would issue rules requiring precious metals owners to report assets held in offshore accounts.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Network proposed rules that would require reporting of precious metals held offshore in custody on behalf of others. These rules are pending in draft form and do not take effect until 2011 or later. I am told these proposed rules may exclude reporting gold held by an individual owner in, say, a self-controlled lock box.
Also this year, the U.S. Congress adopted the so-called HIRE Act. This draconian law requires gold owners to report offshore holdings of precious metals. Fortunately, implementing rules have not been issued yet.
It’s Better to Be Safe than Sorry
Even before these events transpired, our advisers who specialize in this area recommended reporting gold and gold accounts simply as an added precaution, especially if the gold is purchased and held through a bank or investment account.
What happened in Houston was news to them. None of them had ever heard of government agents seizing property like that before.
So as I said just a few moments ago, make sure to carry documents that authenticate your ownership of any precious metals you want to transport.
Beware the Customs Bureaucrats
None of the precautions I discussed here today completely guard against confiscation by an overzealous U.S. ICE agent, followed by the costly battle of proving ownership and source.
I suggest that you contact your attorney to discuss ownership documentation if you intend to transport gold or other precious metals. It sounds like a hassle, but it sure beats the heck out of Big Brother seizing control of your personal property.
That’s the way it looks from here …
Bob Bauman JD
Legal Counsel, The Sovereign Society
P.S. My most popular book, The Passport Book: The Complete Guide to Offshore Residency, Dual Citizenship and Second Passports, is FREE for a limited time when you become a Sovereign Society Member for less than $1 a week. To learn more about membership and to get my most popular book (a $69 value) free, click here now[]
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