Vestey Family Clever Asset-Protection Strategy

Dominique Grubisa
Dominique Grubisa

Published 4:31 am 26 Feb 2021

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With Britain’s Vestey family again in the news, light is being shone on the ingenious wealth-protection strategy they devised to help build one of the greatest family empires in the world.

When British Lord Samuel Vestey died in the UK in early 2021, much of the space in his obituaries focused on his close connections to the royal family. Vestey was friendly not only with the Queen but was a close, polo-playing friend of Prince Charles, while his wife, Celia, was godmother to Prince Harry.

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But much was also written about the Vestey family’s famous ‘Paris Trust’ – the ingenious wealth-protection strategy created by Samuel Vestey’s forebears that helped to build and protect one of the world’s great business empires. The fact that Samuel Vestey was able to pass on an estate worth GBP 750 million to his eldest son, William, speaks much about the long-term effectiveness of the strategy. As frustrated creditors discovered over the many decades that the trust was in use, trying to get money out of the Vestey family was ‘like trying to squeeze a rice pudding’.

The history of the Vesteys is a classic case of successful merchants rising to the upper echelons of society. The founders of the Vestey empire were Edmund and William Vestey, the sons of a provisioner from Liverpool. At the end of the nineteenth Century, they pioneered the use of canning and cold storage to help develop the international meat trade.

The Vesteys first big break came when they saw the value of shipping meat offcuts from American meat packing facilities where there was a surplus to Britain where there was short supply. As they years passed, their business acumen and dedication helped them build a massive meat supply empire, with arms stretching across Europe, South America and Asia. They owned cattle stations, processing works and distribution centres all the way from the Andes to the Top End of Australia, and at one stage the family business was the largest privately-owned conglomerate in the world. (Interestingly, the beef baron in the Paul Kelly song From Little Things Big Things Grow is believed to be Samuel Vestey.)

Lord Vestey Brilliant Legacy

While the founding Vestey brothers and their successors were brilliant businesspeople, perhaps their most noteworthy achievement is their wealth and asset protection strategies. Concerned from the beginning that their hard-earned wealth could be stripped away, the Vesteys asked their accountants to devise a new way to protect their assets. The result was the ‘Paris Trust’, a complex but completely legal arrangement of trusts and companies that essentially made the Vesteys ‘men of straw’. By separating control of their assets from ownership they made themselves invulnerable to creditors and anyone else who sought to touch their empire.

The arrangement protected generations of Vesteys from the hostile stripping away of their assets. However, because the arrangement controversially also dramatically reduced the amount of tax the family paid, it was eventually targeted by the British Government. In 1991, new laws were introduced in Britain closing the legal loophole the Vesteys used to avoid paying tax. It is estimated in the decades leading up to the change the Vesteys avoided paying a remarkable GBP 88 million in tax.

New application

While the Vesteys’ evasion of paying tax took their approach to a highly questionable extreme, the principles of their Paris Trust system are today relevant to Australians looking to preserve their wealth. The DG Institute offers a system based on the legal principles employed by the Vesteys, which it calls the ‘Vestey Trust’, to help individuals control assets in the event that they should come under attack due to unexpected circumstances such as a business failure, job loss, a legal claim or a bad investment.

The principles behind the DGI approach are simple – bad things can and do happen to good people all the time and often an unexpected consequence of this is that we lose wealth we have laboured a long time and often risked a lot to create. When it comes to wealth most of us spend much of our lives taking two steps forward and one step back, when at the end of the day, what we keep is more important than what we make.

DGI’s Master Wealth Control (MWC) strategy involves positioning you, via a trust structure,  as a very small target should things go wrong, with the ability to mitigate against the downside and empower you to intervene and act to control and preserve your wealth long before any unexpected event sees it disappear.

In combination with a testamentary will, access to ongoing legal and professional support and a personalised asset protection advice, the MWC approach gives you maximum peace of mind, helping to protect your property and other assets from threats including negligence claims, contractual disputes, seizure of assets and loss of income.

Not only does this approach allow you to feel secure in your own lifetime, it helps protect your property and other assets as they pass down to future generations.

To learn more about asset protection, register now for our emergency webinar briefing where you’ll learn how to safeguard your wealth while you profit safely.

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Good Debt Vs Bad Debt With Dominique Grubisa - DG Institute

Lawyer, Asset Protection Specialist and Property Educator

Dominique Grubisa is a practicing lawyer with over 25 years experience. She is a property investor and developer, an entrepreneur with businesses in Australia and Southeast Asia, a speaker, educator, writer and published author.

This column has been written for general information purposes only. It is not intended as legal, financial or investment advice and should not be construed or relied on as such.

About DG Institute

Founded in 2009, DG Institute strives to empower everyday Australians to grow and protect their wealth. Our goal is to provide direction, motivation and inspiration to our clients and help them perform at their very best. We do that through our professional services, in addition to teaching them how to grow their wealth through property and business education.

This column has been written for general information purposes only. It is not intended as legal, financial or investment advice and should not be construed or relied on as such.

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