Bloomberg — Demand among Colombian citizens for offshore trust services has surged since the ascension of leftist President Gustavo Petro, who raised taxes on the wealthy as part of his drive to overhaul the economy, according to IQ-EQ’s Anabella Murillo.
Murillo, a Miami-based managing director in the firm’s private-wealth division, said Colombians — more than any other Latin American contingent — have sought out her services that range from tax advice to governance and compliance.
“One of their main concerns is the local currency losing value,” Murillo said in an interview. “I think Colombia’s going to be on the top of countries people have an eye on, because a lot of changes will come.”
The Colombian peso has weakened about 15% against the US dollar in the past year, covering the presidential campaign and first eight months of Petro’s government. The former guerilla fighter is seeking to overhaul the country’s conservative economic model, including reforms to the pension and health systems as well as labor laws.
In November, Congress passed a government-sponsored wealth tax on the assets of the richest Colombians and a higher levy on dividends.
Petro is the first leftist president in Colombia, and is rebuilding ties with the socialist government of Venezuela. Investors and companies have expressed concerns over his plans — including putting an end to new oil exploration — as the country tries to recover from the pandemic and control inflation.
In a sign of the demand from Colombians to diversify their investments abroad, real estate billionaire Jorge Perez visited Bogota in October to meet with potential buyers of his projects in South Florida.
IQ-EQ, based in Luxembourg, provides a range of compliance, administration, asset and advisory services to fund managers, multinational companies, family offices and private clients worldwide. It has about $5 billion under trust administration in the US, Murillo said.
Murillo, a lawyer by training, began advising wealthy families on how to diversify and protect their assets in her native Venezuela after then-President Hugo Chavez nationalized large swathes of the economy. That experience has helped her relate to clients from Mexico to Chile in recent years as politics swung left.
Miami continues to be a main port of call for wealthy Latin American families, with real estate continuing to be the most common investment, Murillo said. Before IQ-EQ, she worked at Zedra Group and Bank of Nova Scotia.
While nothing close to Chavez’s expropriation spree has occurred in recent years, she helped nervous clients ahead of Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador taking office in 2018.
“You have to narrow down tax treaties and bilateral investment treaties because you need to understand where the country is with their investment relationships,” she said. “A lot of years have passed by with Lopez Obrador and we haven’t seen what was feared in the beginning. But they felt safe that they had their planning in place.”
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