When offshore trusts began to be used in a major way, they were usually set up by professionals in the home jurisdiction of the settlor, reflecting the lack of professional expertise in the few offshore jurisdictions that were then available. Eventually the main professional firms began to set up offices in the jurisdictions, and a gradual process began which has resulted in the emergence of sophisticated, multi-disciplinary firms offshore. When these firms work for the corporate sector, they can be referred to as 'corporate service providers', a term which implies a blend of tax, legal and financial expertise.
In parallel with the growth of professional expertise, and sometimes in competition with it, those jurisdictions which encouraged banking usually saw the development of 'fiduciary' companies, often run as departments of banks, which specialised in the setting-up and running of trusts. The banks after all, which were and are rapidly developing their private banking sides, had a ready supply of wealthy clients for a trust business.
In most jurisdictions, professional competence ran ahead of legislative controls, and in many jurisdictions the wall of money that hit offshore from illicit sources in the '90s may have found it all too easy to burrow unseen into the layer of anonymous trusts, IBCs (International Business Companies) and bank accounts that makes up the asset base of offshore. The response of the legislators, sometimes with quite a lot of pushing from the international bodies that have been trying to clean up 'offshore', has usually been to pass a 'Banks and Trusts Act' or similar, which establishes a licensing and 'know your customer' regime for the trust sector.
The horror of 9/11 has of course enormously accelerated this process, and faced with extremely sharp-toothed US legislation, the major offshore jurisdictions have raced to become cleaner-than-clean in terms of their anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist funding regimes, to the point that many of them are by now far 'cleaner' than the very OECD countries which began the anti-offshore process in the mid-90s.
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