Upon reading Shelley A. Stark’s, Hidden Treuhand:  How Corporations and Individuals Hide Assets and Money, my first response was of shock and disbelief.  Then the anger and outrage emerged.  It is clear Shelly Stark is a courageous Whistleblower.  She has dared to expose an organized and secret system of hiding money and assets that has been going on for a long period of history but, that few average people know exists. 

What Ms. Stark is writing about has been a very closely guarded secret prior to now.  Due to becoming aware of the Hidden Treuhand, because of being victimized by its use on her by some business partners, Ms. Stark started what turned out to be five years of hard investigation and research to find out what had happened to her business partnership.  It was not an easily solved mystery.  Fortuitously, Ms. Stark has the economic education, training, intellect, and courage to have tackled this previously secret strategy,  which large corporations and wealthy individuals have known about and had access to utilize in the shadows of our economic world  for a long time.  Her work required copious amounts of research into the history of the practice of Treuhands, hidden or not, and translating masses of German/Austrian law records to get an historical perspective and meaningful understanding of its contemporary impact on our financial  lives. 

In her book, Stark explains that this type of financial and legal strategy is not legal in the U.S., but is legal in certain countries in Europe (Austria, Lichtenstein, Switzerland) and is spreading to other regions (Dubai) making it possible for a lot of manipulation and corrupt dealings to take place, with the public having no inkling it is happening to their money and assets.  She explains how it is possible for a corporation or certain officers of a corporation to hide money, assets, and even people and other money payoffs to people using these Hidden Treuhands, potentially keeping the Hidden Treuhand and everything put into it, secret even from their own board of directors. 

 It appears that using a Hidden Treuhand, Corporations and the wealthy can now thwart any current U.S. government oversight activity, including laws or federal policies.  (Think about former Vice President, Dick Cheney and his conflict of interest in and financial benefits from Halliburton.  How was he able to evade accountability to even current federal laws regarding conflict of interest, quid pro quo, and revolving door prohibitions?    Halliburton coincidentally has moved its headquarters recently to Dubai.  Perhaps, now we know why.)

Recently an article in the Washington Post presented the concept of a new proposed Financial Protection Agency.  If the U.S. Government is going to tackle protecting Americans’ financial matters, they will have to include the problem of Hidden Treuhand, for what are becoming increasingly obvious reasons.  The corrupt and unethical business practices are not just an isolated American problem, but expand across the globe.

Due to the complicated financial dealings leading to our recent financial meltdown of the “Too Big to Fails” our pensions and 401 K’s are already at risk.  Think about Madoff and the huge sums he stole from the retirement accounts of Americans either directly or indirectly.  If Madoff used a Hidden Treuhand, there is little hope all those millions of dollars will ever be openly discovered and identified, let alone recovered.   

I don’t know about you, but the possibility of my retirement funds being siphoned off and shuffled around in secret hidden corporate accounts that no one can see or audit and that I will never see again is enough to get me writing letters and demanding change.  For anyone concerned about the safety and security of American consumers and their financial affairs, this book is a must read!   In fact, this book should immediately be required reading for all U.S. Federal Oversight authorities too.