|Gallison whipped out his business card. It was for GISBeX, based in Costa Rica, which lists itself as a "Global Internet Stock Brokerage Exchange" – the words from which GISBeX comes.|
Costa Rica: nice place for your cash to visit
May 12, 2002
Call it the tech/tax/secrecy haven.
Costa Rica boasts that it is the highest-ranked Latin American country for technological innovation.
It's also a tax haven, billed as "the Switzerland of the Americas," featuring banking secrecy and companies that are officially called "anonymous societies."
One disadvantage: An information agreement with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has eroded banking privacy, according to The Offshore Money Book.
But Americans still stash cash in the Costa Rican cache. Late last month in Sacramento, Karolyn Grosnickle pleaded guilty to laundering $50,000 she accepted from an undercover Internal Revenue Service agent.
She had arranged to send the loot to a bank account in Costa Rica controlled by Anderson's Ark & Associates, which the federal government says is an international organization that assists its members in tax evasion and money-laundering schemes.
Two other defendants went to trial in federal court in Sacramento early this month. A fourth defendant, Keith E. Anderson, was arrested in Costa Rica in February and is still in the pokey, as extradition proceedings continue. He is charged in Washington state with getting $28 million in illegal tax refunds for 1,500 clients, who were withdrawing the lucre from Costa Rica with a debit card.
San Diegans have discovered the wonders of Costa Rica.
Not long ago, retired San Diego stock brokerage manager Ron Hammershoy ran into a broker he had once briefly employed, Harold Bailey (B.J.) Gallison, former head of the notorious, government-shuttered Pacific Cortez Securities (nee La Jolla Capital). Creditors got 2.5 cents on the dollar in the collapse of the penny stock brokerage, which was brought down by the Department of Corporations.
Gallison, along with a number of his confreres, will be tried on criminal fraud charges in July.
According to Hammershoy, Gallison whipped out his business card. It was for GISBeX, based in Costa Rica, which lists itself as a "Global Internet Stock Brokerage Exchange" – the words from which GISBeX comes.
International investors can buy and sell most stocks and bonds on worldwide exchanges through the electronic system, says GISBeX on its Web site.
"The Global Internet Stock Brokerage Exchange is committed to protecting your privacy," boasts its Web site. "All transactions are private, confidential and in total anonymity."
The site tells how investors can protect assets through an international business corporation (IBC) in such tax havens as Grenada and Belize.
This was not the first time I had heard about Gallison's involvement with GISBeX. Nor was I surprised. The criminal case that will be heard in July before Superior Court Judge Bernard Revak involves offshore activities of Gallison and colleagues, including Troy Flowers and long-time penny stock tout William Edward "Billy" Daniel.
Indeed, the trial has been held up as both the prosecutors and defense wait to get depositions from entrepreneurs in the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas tax havens, says Steve Davis, deputy district attorney, who is putting on the government's case with the Department of Corporations.
Gallison "has come before Judge Revak to let him have his passport so he could go to Costa Rica," says Davis. "He has mentioned in court that he has business down there, setting up an electronic brokerage." Davis says he is not concerned about Gallison's current Costa Rica activity.
Gallison's attorney did not respond to a telephone call.
Then there is BetterWayCasinos.com, based in the Pacific Beach area. This six-month old firm sells online gambling sites to individuals for up to $15,000. "We provide the software and the Web site," says Steve Aaron.
"The licensing for the casino properties is in Costa Rica," he says.
A person buys the casino or sportsbook site through BetterWay, then recruits gamblers through Costa Rica, he says. "The average online casino and sportsbook profited more than $1 million in 2001!" boasts the BetterWay Web site.
"Pick a site and you're in business in under 14 days," trumpets the Web site.
No thanks. I'm taking a cruise to Costa Rica.
Don Bauder: (619) 293-1523; firstname.lastname@example.org