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[For my fiction book] Redeeming Stock Certificates
Old 10-04-2015, 09:13 PM   #1
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[For my fiction book] Redeeming Stock Certificates

I'm back again, asking for help with my current book. If you'd enjoy doing it, please let me know if the following is reasonable, in terms of the redemption of paper stock certificates.

In the book, Viviana is a Romanian jewel thief who traveled in a time machine from 1980 to 2020. The book takes place in 2020.

In this scene she and a private detective, Eric Beckman (the narrator) are trying to find her uncle who also traveled forward in time. She and the uncle had both cached money and stock certificates in burial urns (thanks for the idea, ArtTinkerer!), retrieving the contents after their jump.

Peggy is Eric's assistant.

One question is whether one can redeem certificates anonymously or whether the sale information must be made public.

I've included the gratuitous sex and romance.

This is a rough first draft.

Thanks!


--------------------

Viviana and I spent all of the next day, a cozy Sunday, getting to know one another. We left her house only to retrieve my car. To be honest, we spent a lot of time in the bedroom.

Early Monday morning, sunlight streamed onto our bed’s purple comforter, and the scent of woodsmoke drifted in the open window. A pair of blue jays made a racket, but Viviana slept on.

I started to get up, but she held me tighter. Not asleep, apparently. Her body fit mine as if designed for nothing else.

With her head buried against my neck, I stared at the ceiling. What were my priorities? One, keep Viviana hidden, for now, at least. Two, find her uncle, if he was alive. Three, get Uncle Zaharia to present his device to the world. Right. Eric Beckman saves the world. I chuckled.

“What funny?” Her voice was deeper in the morning.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do today.”

No response. Had she fallen back to sleep? She rubbed her nose against my shoulder. “Coffee first.”

“I think it’s your turn to make coffee today.”

Another pause. “Make stronger today.” She was also more demanding in the morning.

After forty minutes of what I hoped would become our normal morning routine, we cleared away the breakfast dishes, and sat side-by-side with our computers.

I brought up my browser. “Okay. First, we’re going to follow the money.”

All the President’s Men.”

“What?”

“‘Follow the money,’ comes from movie. Before your time?”

I Googled it. A 1976 movie. Four years before I was born. Would I ever get used to this? I’d just had sex with a woman born seventy years ago.

“Okay, what are the stocks Zaharia purchased?” All of Viviana’s certificates had turned out to be worthless. From memory, she listed the ten stocks and amounts her uncle had selected. I shouldn’t have been surprised at her intellect. After all, she shared genes with the physicist who’d invented a time machine. I entered each stock into my computer. All worthless.

“So much for that.” I ran my fingers through my hair. “He had gold and diamonds in his urn?”

She shook her head. “Some. Not like me. I couldn’t give him mine. He didn’t know I was thief.”

“The smartest man in the world, and he didn’t know?”

She turned to me, frowning, her jaw clenched. Uh oh. Then she softened. “Maybe he knew. He never said.”

“So he didn’t have your ill-gotten—”

I stopped when her eyes flashed again.

“He was rich. He put gold in urn … wait. Stocks worthless, when?”

“What do you mean?”

“His stocks are worthless now, yes?”

“Yes. I entered in the symbols, and the companies don’t exist anymore.” I pointed to my screen. “You’d have to be lucky—”

“Worthless now. But maybe not when he arrived.”

I nodded slowly. Of course. He could have jumped back to the real world any time after 1980. I plotted the stock prices of all the companies. All had done well, for a while. They went bankrupt in years between 1984 and 2010. The last one to fold was the most interesting. The Boxten Holding Company had purchased a video rental company in 1991, making incredible gains before crashing.

If Zaharia had cashed out at its peak, he would have made—whoa—several hundred million dollars.

We worked for hours, looking for anything unusual. Peggy called my cell, asking “where the hell” I was. I’d have to deal with that later. I told her I was working on a hot lead. She sounded skeptical.

After our lunch break, we found what we were looking for. A news article from 2001:

San Francisco Chronicle Archives

March 9, 2001: 150 Million Dollars Worth of “Lost” Stock Redeemed

Do you dream of finding old stock certificates in the attic and turning them in for a fortune? That’s exactly what happened to a San Mateo resident on Wednesday.


The article went on to describe a man with a marked European accent, around fifty years old, who’d cashed in the certificates. They’d been issued in 1979. He said he found them found hidden in the walls of his house.

Viviana took my hand. “Oh, Eric, Iubită, that’s him. I know it.” Iubită was a new word I’d learned. It meant darling.


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Old 10-04-2015, 10:10 PM   #2
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Stock certificates are not a great idea.... finding them does not mean you own them... they are issued in somebody's name and will pass upon their death just like other assets...

So, the kids, grand kids, cousins etc. etc. will get the loot, not the person who found them... you would have to prove that they are 'yours'....

Also, there is no such thing as 'redeeming' stock certificates... you have to sell them to somebody.... either another investor or the company... your name would be all over the transaction.....


The best you can do it bearer bonds.... they have been outlawed for many years, but I think some are still out in circulation.... IIRC, they are still available in Europe, but I read that many many years ago and it might no longer be true....
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Old 10-04-2015, 10:34 PM   #3
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Stock certificates are not a great idea.... finding them does not mean you own them... they are issued in somebody's name and will pass upon their death just like other assets...

So, the kids, grand kids, cousins etc. etc. will get the loot, not the person who found them... you would have to prove that they are 'yours'....

Also, there is no such thing as 'redeeming' stock certificates... you have to sell them to somebody.... either another investor or the company... your name would be all over the transaction.....


The best you can do it bearer bonds.... they have been outlawed for many years, but I think some are still out in circulation.... IIRC, they are still available in Europe, but I read that many many years ago and it might no longer be true....
Before you can sell the stocks today you have to get a brokerage house to accept them which does entail all the proofs suggested above. The brokerage house would under the patriot act have to get good info. (Now you might find an offshore brokerage house that would cooperate.)
I would suggest diamonds as the best long term store of value. Note also that one has to be careful of the currency involved. If you showed up at a bank with old $100 bills a suspicious activity report would be filed and you would be considered a drug dealer. It appears that UK banknotes from the time would be valid, as might swiss francs (which in many respects would be the money of choice to use)
Actually you could use a swiss bank account as at the start time secret accounts were common. Then it becomes a problem to find the account information which could be hidden and require a search just like real money.
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Old 10-04-2015, 11:05 PM   #4
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Actually you could use a swiss bank account as at the start time secret accounts were common. Then it becomes a problem to find the account information which could be hidden and require a search just like real money.
You mention that the inventor apparently went forward in time to see what stocks to buy, then went back in time to buy up truckloads of the company, then went forward (again) to the precise time to redeem them.

If that were the case, then why not simply have him buy a single lottery ticket with the numbers to a big $75MM+ drawing that no one matched the numbers for?

He wouldn't need to have some crazy big $300MM jackpot - there have been plenty in the $50MM+ range over the past 15 years that would easily be life-changing, and more than enough to live a lavish lifestyle without any worry of having to redeem stock certificates or risk arousing suspicion of insider trading or some crazy story of finding a stash in your walls or attic. He redeems the winning lottery ticket, deposits it in a Swiss Bank, then jumps forward again.

Then they have to search for lottery winners over time, and then figure out which bank account in Switzerland that he stashed the cash in? Maybe the two characters pose as jewelry retailers who are trying to track down their client who expressed an interest in some expensive jewelry and they tell Swiss banks that they only had part of his name, and were trying to track him down?
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Old 10-05-2015, 01:51 PM   #5
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They stopped issuing bearer bonds in 1982 so they all have probably matured by now. Stock certificates are all registered or book entry only. Gold coins might fit the bill.
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Old 10-05-2015, 02:57 PM   #6
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They stopped issuing bearer bonds in 1982 so they all have probably matured by now. Stock certificates are all registered or book entry only. Gold coins might fit the bill.

Good to know.... but there were some issued for 30 years, so probably some still out there....

But then again, they could have been converted to book entry by now....


The thing is that if someone found a bunch of them today, even if matured many years ago, they still should have to pay principal and interest that had not been paid....
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Old 10-05-2015, 06:48 PM   #7
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My experience with owning stock for long periods is that there are spin-offs, buyouts, re-issues and stuff like that. Some companies just dry-up, but I think that if you're going to stick with the stock certificates thing, rather than say they all went out of business, it would be more realistic to say that you researched each issue with the transfer agent and determined that the only value the certificates had was as a collectable.
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Old 10-06-2015, 02:56 PM   #8
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You mention that the inventor apparently went forward in time to see what stocks to buy, then went back in time to buy up truckloads of the company, then went forward (again) to the precise time to redeem them.
No, it's a one-way trip to the future, from, for him, 1979 to 2001.

It looks like these are no longer legal to issue, but I'm having trouble determining when they were last legal.

Bearer Share

An equity security that is wholly owned by whoever holds the physical stock certificate. The issuing firm neither registers the owner of the stock, nor does it track transfers of ownership. The company disperses dividends to bearer shares when a physical coupon is presented to the firm.

Read more: Bearer Share Definition | Investopedia Bearer Share Definition | Investopedia
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I'm guessing there's no way that he could not make a killing with a bearer bond. What's the best ROI he could expect from 79 to 2001?
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Old 10-06-2015, 03:00 PM   #9
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As long as the Bearer bond was not reported lost, I see no reason why it could not be presented late for payment for the coupons and cert redemption. Might have a statute of limitations on how many years you can wait. Past a certain point it gets escheated to the State as unclaimed property.
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Old 10-06-2015, 05:43 PM   #10
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So, you guys are sure that it's simply not a believable scenario, correct? You couldn't get a bearer certificate in 1979 (when legal) that will pay of handsomely in 2001?

If so, I'll have to go to scenario 2: He creates a trust fund with a prestigious law firm, to maintain a diversified stock portfolio, and give the proceeds to anyone who shows up with the proper password (or, say, a ring that was hidden in the burial urn).

Better?
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Old 10-06-2015, 06:12 PM   #11
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Checking a bit further bearer bonds still exist in Europe (as well as tax haven countries) but are effectivly illegal in the US. Even bearer shares exist in some countries as well.
So the first question becomes is the person a us citizen or permanent resident and thus subject to the IRS? (Because if they engage in such in the modern time the IRS might get all the money).
So you have to decide do you go with a swiss account or and account in one of the various tax havens (caymans, BVI, the channel islands ...). (Could make the plot more interesting by using a tax haven).
Rather than the prestigious law firm if no subject to the IRS use a Swiss or Lichtenstein bank. The rules in 1970 will be loose enough to set things up. (Actually I suggest the swiss, because you just don't know what the future of an offshore location will be.
BTW the scenario sounds an aweful lot like Heinliens Door into Summer. (all be it there the protagonist was able to travel back once and using long term sleep technology forward twice. (The first time he ended up broke as the financial arrangements he made went bad, for example say you thought GM in 1970 was a sure thing for 40 years...)
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