Offshore Trusts: Not So Watertight

Recent U.S. court rulings make it harder to stash funds abroad

Like many other well-heeled Americans, options trader Stephan Jay Lawrence succumbed to the lure of offshore trusts as a supposedly safe way to protect his assets. He lost big-time during the 1987 crash, with margin calls putting him in hock to his brokers at Bear Stearns & Co. Not long before he was socked with a $20.4 million arbitration award in 1991, Lawrence put the bulk of his assets--upwards of $7 million, according to court records--into a trust in the Republic of Mauritius. And when Bear Stearns moved to collect, Lawrence filed for bankruptcy.

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