Thursday, 23 June 2011

Foreign Direct Investment in Colombia

The development of emerging countries no only depends of their own economic policies but also from Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from other strong economies. This is reason of the abrupt increased, in the past few decades, of the competition around the globe for Foreign Direct Investment.

As a clear example, Colombia has managed to achieve strength in their own economy thought the international relations that has developed with Unites States and Europe. The FDI in the country is a sourcing of foreign capital. As well as this, has increased the employment opportunities, new skills and knowledge for their own people. These consequences, which are very positive, are not automatic it also depend of the internal policies and their ability to adjust the policies to the new economic challenges.

Over the years Colombia has been affected by violence and international bad reputation as a result of the drug dealing actions accomplished by terrorist groups against the law, such as FARC, very well known internationally.

Looking at the history of Colombian, different governments have tried to minimize the effect of these activities on the national economy, without a positive result. Although the two last governments and its security services team have managed to minimize the production and trading of drugs over the world and now other South American countries have taken the lead on this kind of activities.

These significant advances are the result of new internal governmental, economic and criminal policies and also the continuous advise and economic help from United States , in which the implementation of new programs and strategies has lead in practically a totally new country.

Colombia is the third largest country in Latin America in terms of population and the first in natural resources. The improvement in terms of security and economic growth has improved the foreign interest in the country. In 2010, Foreign Direct Investment in Colombia reached $6.4 billion a 19.7% rise compared to the same period in 2009.

The country has many products to offer internationally in terms of trading. On one hand, in terms of exportation the country main products are petroleum, coffee, coal, emeralds, nickel, bananas and flowers. On the other hand, in terms of importation Colombia has interest on Industrial Equipment, transport equipment, energy products, fuel, etc.

The United States is the biggest supply of new foreign direct investment (FDI) in Colombia, particularly in mining, energy sector, legal advised, communication infrastructure, health industry and hydrocarbon projects. The only activities blocked to foreign direct investment are defence, national security, and disposal of hazardous wastes.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Claudia Ortiz-Fonseca Professional Profile

Claudia Ortiz-Fonseca is a Colombian lawyer and a qualified Spanish Lawyer. Member of the Barcelona Bar association and based in the UK.

Claudia obtained her law degree from the Saint Tomas University of Bogota, specializing in Criminal Law and later trained as a specialist in Economic Integration at the University of Salamanca, Spain.

She held different positions in the public sector as an Analyst in Human rights and International Humanitarian Law at the Colombian Military Headquarters and she was a legal advisor to The Colombian Air Force, Law professor for a Military University and then a Director of the District of Bogota high security Jail. Her final appointment in Bogota was as Mayor of a District in Bogota (Usaquén) -a locality with a population of five hundred thousand people-.

In the private sector she was an Executive Vice-President for the firm Philippe de LaCroix Associés in Zurich, a firm specialising in Swiss private banking.

In 2007 she created her own law practice known as Ortiz-Fonseca & Abogados, where she was a Specialist Property Consultant, for high net worth individuals buying and selling in Spain.

As a Spanish Lawyer she can assist with any aspect of doing business in Spain, but her specialty is advising British people who are buying or selling property in Spain. She is fluent in English as well as Spanish and has been consulting to UK nationals for some time under the banner

As a Colombian Lawyer she can advice in any legal matter related to commercial law, trading investment and business in general. I also have a very good knowledge of Latin American legislation in terms of trading matters.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


Whether you are thinking of buying your dream house, a holiday or retirement home or indeed even if you just want to invest some money in a property, buying property in Spain is ALWAYS something that needs very careful thought and preparation.

Normally the first thing you will consider is where do you wanted to be it located? How much money you are going to spend? Do you want a new property or an existing one? Pretty vital decisions you would think, but these are just three simple things to be considered, they are preliminary to the purchase process but they are not the most important aspects of it.

No, the most important thing is to make sure the legal process of acquisition of your home is done perfectly. If people were buying in Britain they would be careful to make sure they act carefully in conjunction with professionals they trust. Yet put them in sunny Spain with a pool beside them, a glass of Sangria in their hand and a developers agent telling them they should use a local lawyer he just happens to have a card for and hey presto, all common-sense seems to fly out the window!

70% of the British citizens who buy property in Spain buy in new developments, usually because of the facilities and the convenience but if you think seriously and if you analyze the news in the press or the comments of other British people, what actually happens? Normally the developer or his estate agent helps them to get a mortgage, but what about the legal advice? Well surprise, surprise and don’t worry - they can provide that too! You just have to do what they say and everything will go through smoothly! I wonder why they are so interested in helping buyers to proceed without any difficulty? Oh yes, I forgot; they’re selling the property and want your money!

You may have heard about developers taking money from buyers without obtaining permissions or the owners of properties built without the necessary building permissions facing demolition and the loss of all their money – not to mention dreams! Sometimes purchasers buy a property, pay 100% of the money and do not get the deed, the “Escritura” which guarantees their ownership. These are only a few examples of the “nightmarish” experience of many British people buying property in Spain. So how can these difficulties be avoided? Very often I am afraid it is just a question of commonsense.

I have seen so many situations where someone buys a Spanish property, uses a lawyer that either acts for the developer or was recommended by him or his agent and only later they find there was some difficulty; their title was never registered to record their ownership, or the developer has gone bust and they don’t have any Bank Guarantees as protection or better still the developer never actually owner the land the property was built on and so they are left high and dry!

In the UK such conflicts of interest are avoided because the solicitors involved in a property transaction can only act for both parties in very limited circumstances and with the express agreement of both parties. Where people buy in Spain sometimes such considerations seem to be neglected and over-looked, though in my opinion they shouldn’t be. Even if a lawyer recommended to you is independent of the developer very often they receive so many referrals from the developer’s agent that their independence is compromised. After all, if you were a lawyer with an inside track to getting a vast number of clients from a new development on the outskirts of town, would you be the one to cause difficulty and say there was something wrong with the title or the contact knowing that by doing so the stream of referrals to you would dry up?

The danger of using a developer or agent recommended lawyer is that this lawyer may not look closely at the issues that really matter to you during the legal process or seek to properly protect your interests. They may instead take a pragmatic view that you pay them only one fee, but if the developers and their agents refer many clients to them. This is how problems arise.

Of course when problems do arise the estate agent does not want to know! They do not accept any kind of responsibility for whatever has gone wrong simply direct you to the contract. If you as a buyer want to pursue a legal action against the builder then of course you will be forced to spend money and time in the courts of a foreign country to try to recover your investment; not an easy thing to do.

So what do I recommend you do? ALWAYS get independent legal advice, always!! Let me repeat that in case you moved too quickly on to the next sentence. ALWAYS get independent legal advice, ALWAYS!! Before you do anything speak to an independent lawyer, their independent professional advice at the beginning of the process will save you many headaches and potentially a lot of money and sleepless nights later on.

As a Spanish Lawyer, I confirm that “Buying in Spain without the pain” is possible, get independent legal advice from a bi-lingual lawyer – such as me! Make sure that your personal lawyer studies the contract before you sign; that they check that the necessary Bank Guarantees are in place and that they do the necessary searches against the property to make sure that it does not have debts for taxes or public services and will get the necessary permissions. They will also make sure you receive the “Escritura” or deeds of the property after going to “protocolizar” the contract in a Notary.

Do not be afraid; you are the one with the money and there are literally thousands of properties available in Spain. If the estate agent tries to get you to do something without you first speaking to your own independent lawyer, move on to another property, but make sure this process is done properly, then you will see that is very easy to buy in Spain without the pain!!

Saturday, 1 March 2008


There are many reasons why people choose to arrange Private banking in Switzerland. It is said that Switzerland is the Bank of the world and certainly its banking credentials are unique. It offers a stable and secure private banking environment and, uniquely, has done so for centuries. The political stability of the Swiss Federation has been the backdrop for the development of unique Banking and asset management expertise with an underlying philosophy of Banking secrecy, or as it is now more usually referred to "financial confidentiality." This is a truly unique quality in a world where almost everywhere else has surrendered in the face of the war against drugs, or the war against terror or some other political objective the net effect of all of which seems to amount to a war against an individuals right to privacy. To be clear, there is absolutely nothing illegal about having Banking facilities in Switzerland.

In a world where government has pressured almost every other off-shore haven into information sharing agreements, Switzerland alone has remained steadfast and declared that its legendary banking confidentiality is not up for compromise and the international agreements it has entered into have preserved its unique status in the world as a trustworthy place to do confidential business.

Of course it is worth noting that although secrecy is a cornerstone of Swiss banking this does not mean Switzerland is a hiding place for the proceeds of financial crime. The Swiss government is a party to international strategies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing and Swiss banks do not tolerate crime. Confidentiality is lost when there is notice of fraud or other crime, however as is often pointed out confidentiality is not normally at risk where unpaid taxes are the issue as, under Swiss law, this is merely viewed as a misdemeanor. Another feature of banking in Switzerland is there is no tax on foreign money and its resultant income. Non-residents' bank accounts in Switzerland can be completely tax-free at source if they are structured correctly. In a world where we seem to be taxed from birth up to and including death this is again an attraction. Of course domiciliary jurisdictions and their tax liabilities may vary, but at source no tax arises if structured correctly.

Swiss bankers are the world leading experts in the field of wealth preservation and management. There are over 450 Banks in Switzerland, ranging from some of the largest commercial banks in the world to small boutique Banks, all regulated by the Swiss Banking Commission and governed by the Swiss Banking Law of 1934 which amongst other things legally enshrines a customers right to privacy previously discussed, but within this group of 450 Banks not all are the same.

There are for instance many Banks based in other jurisdictions who, to service the demands of their customers for off-shore investments, have established a presence in Switzerland. Readers in the UK may be aware of the recent UK case where the five major High Street Banks were ordered by the UK court to hand over to the UK Revenue (tax) authorities details of their customers who had accounts off-shore. Swiss Banks are not subject to this judgment but it is a good illustration of how banking in the wrong jurisdiction can mean that at the stroke of a pen privacy can be removed. In my view it would be a poor advisor who would recommend a client to a Bank where there was a possibility of such a loss of privacy.

Even Swiss Law recognizes that not all Bankers are the same and legally protects the misuse of the term "Private Banker," this being legally limited to those Banks where one or more of the Bank owners have full personal and business unlimited liability for the performance of their Bank. In an age where fewer and fewer people in any field can be held accountable for their performance this is indeed a refreshing throwback to, dare I say, a more responsible age. These Private Bankers have put all their personal wealth and assets as well as business assets on the line in addition to the other protections customers enjoy under the law.

The term "Private Banker" is therefore different from that of "Private Bank" which does not necessarily mean the same thing and can apply to banks that are limited liability companies. The term "Private Banking" simply refers to banking activity serving private individuals who want to have their assets managed professionally. Readers wanting a "classic" Swiss bank should be aware that the inclusion of the words "Private bank" or "Banking " in the title of a bank does not mean that its Bankers are the true legally defined Private Bankers.

Off course, like any other country in the world, Switzerland offers normal banking services through its own "High Street" banks, but when you are talking about asset management and wealth planning the expertise and knowledge peculiar to Switzerland and its specialist Banks is essential. When deciding to make a selection from the 450 Swiss banks, it is important to know where to go and how to make your choice. Most people cannot take the time necessary to "trawl" the marketplace and get to know the Banks and their different profiles and specialties, and for that reason the classic firms of "Apporteurs d'affaires" who dealt with the Banks, making introductions and broking the business to those who could best service it, grew up and continues to this day. In Philippe de LaCroix Associes we are the last such remaining classic firm and who though based in Zurich we have executives traveling throughout the world to service clients needs. Such firms were traditionally ultra secretive but even in Philippe de LaCroix Associes we now have a web presence! How times have changed!
Although Swiss banking privacy is legendary, secrecy is not the most important reason for Switzerland's success as a center of international finance. Of greater significance are the financial and economic expertise and infrastructure combined with the stability of the Swiss franc. Switzerland exists as the leading banking center for private wealth in the world today controlling somewhere over 5 trillion dollars of off-shore invested funds - and growing! For centuries the Swiss have served as investment bankers to the world; to kings, nobility and latterly to celebrities, executives, entrepreneurs and other successful people. I am confident that will not change because the demand by successful people for world class Banking is as strong as ever and the number of places where it can be experienced is regrettably diminishing all the time.

Of course having Private Banking in Switzerland is not financially limiting. Swiss bankers operate an "a la carte" approach for their international investors, refreshing in an age where banks seem increasingly to resemble "fast food" outlets. Options may range across industries and countries, established or emerging markets, bonds, commodities or whatever you wish or you and your banker decide. The world is indeed open to you through your Swiss Banker. We have clients who deposit funds and leave them as cash deposits for confidential withdrawal purposes; others who specify the investments of their choice; others who give mandates to their bankers outlining an agreed approach after which they leave all decisions to the Bankers -subject only to the mandate. Indeed we have clients on "all points in between" including our "distance account service" where we are mandated to deal with the Bank and the client relays instructions through us to maintain a distance between the client and the bank as a further guarantee of maintaining financial privacy.

In a fast and seemingly ever changing world Swiss Banking remains as a reassuringly unchanging benchmark; a unique and constant point of reference against which all others have to be judged. In Philippe de LaCroix we have a saying that is a part of our philosophy and it is as true today as when our founder first expressed it back in 1909; "Everyone needs more than one Banker, but at least one must be Swiss!"

Monday, 25 February 2008

Banca Privada en Suiza: Por que seguir Invirtiendo!!

Competitividad, experiencia en el Know-how, estabilidad política y económica, tradición, y sobretodo sus resultados, han posicionado la plaza financiera de Suiza como una de las más poderosas y eficientes del mundo.

La Banca Suiza como líder en la administración de bienes de capital, gestiona aproximadamente el 35% de los fondos privados e institucionales en le extranjero siendo estos logros los que catalogan esta plaza financiera como líder Mundial.

Surgiendo así la pregunta, que tiene Suiza en la administración de capital que no tienen otros países líderes en la gestión de fortunas como el Reino Unido y Estados Unidos de América?

En primer lugar, es importante considerar que Suiza cuenta aproximadamente con 450 entidades financieras y bancarias de las cuales alrededor de 75 son Bancos privados y 14 Banqueros privados. Estos últimos creadas bajo el concepto de “family office” dedicadas a ofrecer una asistencia integral de gestión de patrimonio a familias que disponen de una gran fortuna y que desean cultivarla e incrementarla generación tras generación.

A diferencia de otros líderes financieros Suiza posee Tradición en la administración de fortuna se remonta a más de 250 años, y es su manejo y su alta competitividad quien la sitúan como la mejor en el mundo.

Su gran estabilidad política y económica y su reconocida solidez hacen de Suiza un país que goza de gran integridad, elevada productividad y reconocida reputación como “safe heaven”. De acuerdo a los informes anuales de Transparency Internacional su sistema político es uno de los más transparentes del mundo.

La competitividad de los helvéticos se ha mantenido año tras año ante la globalización del mercado de capitales, distinguiéndose por la diversificación en sus inversiones bajo las bases de la experiencia en la gestión de fortunas –know how- y su especial atención al cliente sobre las bases del servicio personalizado y confidencialidad bancaria.

Igualmente dispone de un sistema de impuestos diferente que favorece la expansión del régimen financiero. Para los suizos el respeto a la vida privada es mucho mas importante que el tema de los impuestos. Los bancos no tienen derecho a informar a las autoridades fiscales suizas, y todavía menos a las autoridades fiscales extranjeras.

Su constante lucha contra el lavado de dinero constituye una prioridad para Suiza. La Ley Suiza contra el Lavado de Dinero entro en vigor en abril de 1998 es considerada como una de las mas estrictas del mundo pues pretende reforzar la cooperación entre el sector privado y el gobierno a través de un intercambio de información obligatorio, pero estrictamente confidencial, en los casos en que se sospeche de corrupción o delitos.

Por ultimo hay que tener en consideración que el atractivo de Suiza para la inversión directa se encuentra también circunscrito al alto grado de preparación de su fuerza de trabajo. Cada vez mas la preparación de las personas que trabajan en el sector bancario es más pronta y eficiente, pues del buen entrenamiento e instrucción de sus profesionales financieros depende continuar con la buena reputación de esta plaza financiera.

Es así como Suiza, se incorpora como el número uno en Banca privada a nivel mundial superando de esta forma en materia de finanzas e inversión poderosas potencias mundiales como Estados Unidos y Reino Unido y creando cada día mayor oportunidades para ciudadanos y empresarios del mundo y manteniendo su inigualable reputación de líder.

Escrito por: Claudia Ortiz-Fonseca
Executive Vice President; Europe & Latin America
Philippe de LaCroix Associes.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Causas y futuro de la Crisis Economica Global

La crisis mundial llega antes de lo esperado! Si bien es cierto el crecimiento de la economía mundial en 2007 estuvo en el orden del 3.2% según lo expuesto por Naciones Unidas, el mismo se constituyó en los primeros síntomas de desaceleración mundial, puesto que para 2006 el crecimiento se situó por encima del 3.8%. Dicha desaceleración motivada principalmente por la crisis tributaria vivida en Estados Unidos, que obviamente conmocionó el mercado bursátil mundial, provocando que la mayoría de las economías del orbe sufrieran graves pérdidas financieras.

Que ha causado esta perturbación financiera?

No obstante se pronosticaba que el 2008 iba a ser definitivo en la economía mundial, la turbulencia financiera redundó en un coletazo espectacular, tras el anuncio del Presidente Bush y de la Reserva Federal de recortar marcadamente las tasas de interés en el orden del 3.5%, lo que se constituyó en uno de los mayores recortes registrados en 30 años en Norte América.

En últimas, esta decisión evidenció la débil estructura de la economía mundial, la fragilidad de las economías fuertes y su incidencia aterradora en las economías emergentes frágiles por naturaleza. (Ver caída de las bolsas asiáticas y europeas y volatilidad de los mercados en Latinoamérica).

Es importante recalcar, que algunas economías de América Latina fueron favorecidas con la mencionada crisis, como lo reportó el índice MSCI de acciones latinoamericanas, lo anterior debido a que registraron aumentos del orden del 7,20% tras una caída superior al 8% a finales de enero de 2008. Es así que las bolsas latinoamericanas reportaron después del famoso “lunes Negro” repuntes tales como: la Bolsa Mexicana de Valores cerró en alza en más del 6%, la Bolsa de Valores de Sao Paulo avanzó 4,6%, según lo reportado por el índice Bovespa, la Bolsa Argentina aumentó 3,6% y la chilena cerró según su Índice IPSA por encima del 4,38%.

Después de cinco años de sólido crecimiento a escala global, la expansión mundial se encuentra en una fase de “mesura” debido a las perturbaciones financieras que han sido catalogadas de persistentes y bastante notorias.

Que nos espera.

No podríamos aventurarnos a asegurar la inminente recesión de los Estados Unidos, sin embargo las medidas tomadas por el Presidente George W. Bush y por la Reserva Federal (FED) han sido tan severas que solo podrán ser entendidas como un antídoto a la recesión. Sin embargo es prudente esperar la evolución de su economía al cierre del primer trimestre del 2.008

Europa por su parte no es ajena a esta crisis y basa su preocupación en una posible desaceleración y alza en la inflación en la zona del Euro, lo cual generaría entorpecimientos para los Bancos Centrales en la acción de encontrar un punto de equilibrio entre estos dos factores.

El temor porque esta crisis se agudice, ha motivado una serie de reuniones entre algunas potencias financieras de Europa como son el Reino Unido, Francia, Alemania e Italia, quienes han apostado por la transparencia en los mercados, especialmente en la banca y en las agencias de colocación de riesgo como la mejor arma para combatir este flagelo.

Igualmente, sentaron un precedente importante al apoyar al Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) para convertir el mismo en un gendarme de las finanzas globales mediante la puesta en marcha de un sistema de alerta rápida.

Sin embargo, una vez realizada esta “mini-cumbre europea”, llevada a cabo en Londres – Reino Unido, se han despertado grandes recelos en otros países de Europa tales como España y Bruselas quienes por su falta de invitación y participación en un asunto de interés mundial dejaron claro que al tratarse de mercados globales este proyecto no podrá catalogarse como una plan de carácter definitivo, pues debido a que el epicentro de esta crisis financiera ha sido EEUU; es allí donde en primer lugar se deberán tomar las medidas de auto corrección.

Así las cosas y para concluir, respecto de este sobresalto bursátil no queda más que esperar. Esperar los resultados económicos de EEUU al cierre del primer trimestre del 2008. Si sus resultados son positivos esperaremos una desaceleración durante el primer semestre el ano y una gran recuperación financiera durante el segundo. De ser negativos los resultados el horizonte económico no será tan agradable y estaremos a la espera pérdidas financieras, recesión, baja en el crecimiento del PIB.