Yes, of course. MEG International Counsel is widely recognized as a firm that teams up with our clients and their advisors. Nevertheless, when those outside advisors do not have the experience demanded by the matter, or do not have the knowledge to achieve the desired objective, it may be necessary to hire other professionals or experts even if they are not part of our firm.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, it is important to maintain the confidentiality and the attorney-client privilege protections, afforded by U.S. law, of the client when using non-attorney external advisors.
As an example of these risks, the Organization for the Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has issued the commonly referred “rules of disclosure for advisors” (whose official name is: “Rules for the Mandatory Disclosure to Regulate Plans that Avoid CRS and Obscure (Off-Shore) Foreign Structures” which require the reporting of their clients to the appropriate tax authorities and of any plans implemented by those advisors to avoid reporting under CRS, whether they are attorneys, accountants, financial advisors, banks, or any other service providers.
Specifically, in a press release in March 2018, the OECD announced that by issuing these “rules of disclosure for advisors”, they targeted the advisors and their clients because “the time is up for these tax evaders and their advisors who still want to play with the rules and continue hiding their assets overseas or off-shore”. After you read this, it appears that those that control the OECD have lost their minds.
However, when one analyzes the published Q&A document that defines how these new rules are to be implemented, one confirms that they were actually close to losing them, since that "defining" document indicates that "these [rules] will not require intermediaries to disclose information that is subject to rules of professional secrecy" that are generally reserved exclusively for lawyers and sometimes to the clergy.
This means that if your country of residence is a member of the OECD for CRS purposes, but does not have laws or case-law, as well as a verifiable history of having truly enforced the attorney-client privilege and the confidentiality of client information, the only alternative if you want to preserve your privacy and your personal or family’s physical integrity, either under the CRS or FATCA, is to consult an attorney in the United States because the country has mandatory non-disclosure and confidentiality laws and also, it’s not a CRS signatory.
Unfortunately, hiring advisors, accountants, economists, promoters, brokers, banks, brokerage houses, or any other service providers which are not attorneys or whose services or relationships are not protected by the duty of confidentiality or the attorney-client privilege, could be quite expensive. Despite this, the OECD extends its criminalization attempts to potential victims of extortion and kidnappings who seek only protection and privacy by forcing the clients to report themselves for lack of such confidentiality cover.While our professional, personal, and unwavering position is to not condone or approve tax evasion or money laundering, this recent proposal by the OECD is truly insane. Therefore, it’s necessary that each inquiry that is made to advisors who are not attorneys are instead done under the protection of the duty of confidentiality and the attorney-client privilege as described above.