President's Message – Report on STEP Chairmen’s AGM (Held in London: 1st to 4th Dec 2010)

Dear Fellow STEP Members,

During the 4-day programme, I attended meetings with the following groups:

1. Development Committee
2. East Asia Regional Committee
3. International Committee
4. Special Interest Groups
5. STEP Worldwide Council
6. India Round Table
7. AGM.

Between the various meetings attended, I met with the following persons:

1) David Harvey: CEO – STEP Worldwide (WW)
We discussed the making of a submission to WW to appoint a full-time STEP WW Executive to be based in Asia to cover such issues as:

A. Public Policy
B. Educational Strategy
C. Membership
D. Branch Development.

2) Keith Johnston: Director of Policy & Communication 
Keith will undertake the submission for the STEP WW Executive position.

3) George Hodgson: Head of Policy
George will be assisting in the preparation of “The Common Law Legislation of Trusts in Singapore,” for a STEP paper to the EU.

4) Michael Evans: Director of Governance & Processional Standards
A sub-committee in Singapore is reviewing the STEP Singapore Constitution. The sub-committee, chaired by Mr Lee Chiwi, and assisted by Ms Lim Ping Ping, Mr S Sharma and Ms Catherine Cheung, expects to submit their findings and make a recommendation in the next few months. Michael will be reviewing the sub-committee’s findings.

5) Amand Seal: Director of Events
Amand is in-charge of planning for the STEP Asia conference to be held this year in Singapore during 1-2nd November. The sub-committee, chaired by James Aitken and assisted by Wan Peng and Brian Balleine, is currently developing Conference Thematic elements.

6) Nigel Race: Director of Education
Nigel came to Singapore during 27-28 Jan 2011 to discuss with the Institute of Banking & Finance (IBF) and other education stake-holders on the STEP Asia Education programme that is anticipated to be rolled out this year.

7) Elaine Crehan: Director of Marketing & Membership
We discussed the possible establishment of Chapters in jurisdictions that may not have enough numbers to form a Branch, but can organize an initial smaller STEP presence. I have been tasked as a goodwill ambassador to assist STEP WW in establishing STEP representations in Brunei and Malaysia as the membership in these two jurisdictions has been growing independently of Singapore.

In summary, this was a very beneficial time in understanding how our professional body has grown to 16,000 members across 60 jurisdictions, and what further benefits can be delivered to our approximately 430 Singapore members.

Angelo Venardos
President, STEP (Singapore Chapter)

STEP Singapore Website: A Quick Peek

STEP Singapore launched its website in 2006 as a source of information for members and industry practitioners on the latest activities of the branch and developments in the industry.

In 2010, our website enjoyed more than 150,000 hits and almost 30,000 visits from 16,000 unique visitors. Top visitors came from USA, Russia, Singapore, Germany, China, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.

The most popular areas of our website include our events calendar and recruitment advertisements.

Feedback on the website is always welcome.

The Bahamas Jurisdiction Update – The Bahamas

The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is made up of over 700 islands of the coast of Southeast Florida. The former British colony is today one of the most buoyant economies in the Caribbean, based mainly in the tourism and financial services industries. Strong regulatory oversight and a well planed strategy have made it a home for the some of the best Private Banks in the world.

The Bahamas offer the world a number of options to structure and protect assets based on common law concepts: Their Corporations and Trusts enjoy a good reputation and lately, following the trend, Bahamas created and has improved their Private Foundations regime.

The Private Interest Foundations of the Bahamas is the ideal estate planning vehicle for an individual or family. Its features include: Individual Legal StatusTransfer of Assets: the assets of the foundation are considered separate from those of the founder, guaranteeing the autonomy of the transferred assets; Anonymity: Beneficiaries´ information is kept confidential; Irrevocability: generally, the foundation is irrevocable unless otherwise stated; Forced heirship: The foundation expressly establishes that forced heirship provisions that exist in the founder’s domicile shall not be enforceable on the foundation.

The Foundations Law was enacted in 2004 and amended in 2005 and 2007. The 2007 amendment specifically addresses certain areas of legislation relating to service providers. These changes are mainly due to the Bahamas government’s intention to make its foundations more competitive vis-à-vis other jurisdictions that offer this type of foundation.

The Law no longer requires that information related to the Founder, the Foundation Council, or the supervisory body be submitted to the Registrar General’s Department. Additionally, it now requires that the Foundation’s Secretary or Agent notify the Registrar in writing within 30 days of becoming aware of any change in such information. While eliminating the need to submit said information, the Registrar General of Bahamas now requires that the [foundation’s] registered agent keep this information (Section 23 of the Law).

Notably, a Bahamas private interest foundation can be specifically created for private, charitable, or commercial purposes, for the prohibition of the habitual exercise of business does not apply to it. However, private interest foundations are primarily used as holding structures to make better use of their asset protection and estate planning features. They carry out, sporadically, certain business transactions when convenient or advantageous to the foundation. Revenue from such transactions is used to achieve the purpose or purposes of the foundation. Thus, the purpose of a private interest foundation might be to finance the costs of an education or to aid and support one or more families. Additionally, the foundation could benefit other individuals or legal entities, including institutions of any kind, taking the necessary steps for the orderly succession of its assets. To achieve its purposes, the foundation is authorized to preserve, manage, and properly invest the awarded assets, and to conduct all business and legal transactions that are conducive to achieving these ends.

So, things are looking up for the Bahamas even as the past financial crisis has taken its toll on some of the countries and territories in the Caribbean Sea. Recently, there has been wide media coverage to a new beach resort, hotel and casino to be financed by the Export-Import Bank of China worth USD 2.6 Billion. Bahamas is certainly taking part in the expansion of Asia, in this case, via China.

Contributed by Laura Boyd – Attorney at Law (Panama); Associate, Morgan & Morgan, Panama

“Up Close & Personal” – Interview with a Member from Singapore Branch

This section offers members an opportunity to become better acquainted with a STEP member affiliated with the Singapore branch. Any member interested in being interviewed should contact the STEP (Singapore) Secretariat.

: Alexis Medina Achon
Organisation : Morgan & Morgan Group
Designation & Role in Organisation : Attorney at Law (Panama) and Executive Director for our Singapore Offices: Morgan & Morgan Corporate Services Pte Ltd. and Morgan & Morgan Pte Ltd. (Registered Foreign Law Practice).
Years in Trust Industry : 10 years

Getting to know Alexis Mendina Achon

The book I am currently reading is ... “Miracle in the Andes”, which is the account of one of the survivors of the 1972 plane crash of a rugby team travelling from Argentina to Chile on the South American mountain range. The group spent 72 days in freezing temperatures and had to go to extremes to survive. A tale of the bare will to make it.

Also, since my wife and I welcomed our second daughter in last December, I´m also lining up to read “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters”. I figured I´m well outnumbered at home, so I should take all the help available and I trust this one will help me prepare to be a good father to my two girls.

The person who has been my biggest influence is ... My father. With many things stacked up against him, he persevered to become an Engineer in my native Panama. His discipline, hard work and focus on his goals never cease to impress me, as well as his willingness to take risks and stand back up when life knocked him down.

What I like most about my job is ... Taking a client from Point A to Point Z. Eventually they will discover it is not rocket science, as they usually feel at the beginning. I truly enjoy walking them through the risks and potential solutions from a legal standpoint and sharing with them the experiences that other individuals or families have had to reach a solution to their situation.

My golden rule is ... There is a time for everything, including a time to be patient and a time to lose it.

The business expression I hate most is ... I guess I can deal with the cliché´s out there, so I will say rather a general lack of courtesy and respect while interacting with others is incredible upsetting to me.

Upcoming Events
Unit Trusts 101 (9 March 2011, 12-2pm, FTSE Room – Capital Tower)

There is an increasing interest by wealthy families in transferring shares into family owned companies and other business assets in trust structures. This presentation, based on live cases, focuses on how these assets can be structured and transferred to the next generation and what the risks in structuring such assets are.

Register early to secure your place by completing and faxing the registration form to +65-31287781 (no 6 prefix) or via e-mail by 3 March 2011!

Piercing the Veil of the Company and Trust: An International Comparative Analysis (23 March 2011, 5-7.30pm, STI Auditorium – Capital Tower)

At this seminar, our speaker will provide a comparative analysis of the following issues:

  1. Origin of separate legal personality (the rule in Salomon)
  2. Piercing the corporate veil – special circumstances required
  3. Developments in particular onshore and offshore jurisdictions – such as ‘substantive consolidation’ / reverse piercing in United States in the context of insolvent subsidiaries of liquid holdco
  4. Piercing the trust / sham trusts post-Rahman and Re: Esteem (both Jersey, Channel Islands cases)
  5. Effect of freezing injunctions against 3rd parties (the TSB Private Bank v. Chabra caselaw) as a way around the need to pierce at all.

Register early to secure your place by completing and faxing the registration form to +65-31287781 (no 6 prefix) or via e-mail by 16 March 2011!

SAVE THE DATE! – STEP-STA Singapore Inaugural Charity Gala Dinner 2011

The STEP Singapore branch is pleased to announce its inaugural gala dinner on Wednesday, 29th June 2011 at the Fairmont Hotel, organised together with the Singapore Trustees Association.

Members and their guests will enjoy an elegant 8-course Chinese sit-down dinner, and the opportunity to catch up with old friends and renew acquaintances.

In an effort to give back to society, net proceeds from the dinner will be donated to a charitable cause to be announced shortly.

Members may also make direct donations to the charity to enjoy 2.5 times tax exemption.

Limited places are available.

If you wish to pre-register your interest for the dinner, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to indicate the number of places/tables you wish to book.

Mark your diaries for this milestone event and watch this space for more details soon!

Events Calendar

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