Foreign investors who buy the special issue of Treasury securities for purchasers abroad can probably skirt new U.S. government regulations intended to prevent the sale overseas of bearer securities backed by U.S. government securities, a Treasury official said yesterday.
American firms on Friday were barred from issuing bearer bonds abroad if they are backed by U.S. securities. Bearer bonds keep the identity of the purchaser secret and are popular among foreign investors.
However, the Treasury official, responding to a question at a press briefing yesterday, said that a foreign institution purchasing the new kind of special registered U.S. security could probably repackage these securities and sell them as bearer bonds, because such an action by a foreign entity would probably be beyond the reach of U.S. laws.
The official said the Treasury would try to monitor the situation after the first issue is sold to determine whether it was occurring, and then may adjust the regulations to deal with the problem.
The official said that subsidiaries of U.S. investment firms, however, would be prohibited from selling bearer bonds backed by the special registered Treasury securities.
The Treasury had considered selling its own bearer bonds overseas, but ran into stiff opposition on Capitol Hill. The Senate passed a resolution last month condemning the issuance of such unregistered securities.
The Treasury later decided to issue a special security to foreign investors requiring the foreign financial institutions that buy them to certify that persons who purchase the bonds from them are not American. The Senate was concerned that Americans could evade U.S. taxes by purchasing the bearer bonds, which allow the bondholder to remain anonymous.
However, the U.S. government is not given the identity of the bond holder, who thus has the same anonymity as the owner of bearer bonds.
It was unclear yesterday whether foreign investors would be interested in repackaging the special Treasury securities, since some investors consider the new issues to be very much like bearer bonds anyway.
Treasury officials also said yesterday that they hope to sell a maximum of between $1 billion and $2 billion of the new four-year registered notes in the first issue of those securities, which is scheduled for mid-October.
The minimum bid will be $50 million and the smallest denomination will be $1,000, officials said. The securities will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.