Jurisdiction profiles

Jurisdiction Profiles

Anguilla is situated in the Caribbean, east of Puerto Rico and is the most northerly of the Leeward Islands. The island’s status as an offshore centre is relatively new, however Anguilla has modern legislation and considered as a well-regulated jurisdiction. It is a stable country with excellent communication networks. Anguilla has no foreign exchange controls or double tax treaties.

Located in the Eastern Caribbean, Antigua is an excellent location for international business. Along with its political and economic stability, Antigua has one of the most thriving tourist industries in the Eastern Caribbean. A combination of being a highly qualified professional sector, modern corporate legislation, fiscal legislation and strict confidentiality codes make Antigua an extremely attractive environment for the establishment of offshore corporations.

Aruba is situated in the Caribbean Sea, north of Venezuela. Formerly forming part of the Netherlands Antilles it became constitutionally autonomous in 1986 and is relatively new to the offshore status. Banking, licensing, insurance and holding companies are the main offshore sectors. Tourism also plays an important part of the economy of Aruba. It also has a well-developed financial and professional infrastructure. Renowned for its strict anti-money laundering laws, Aruba is establishing itself at a fast developing international financial service centre.

The Bahamas are located in the Caribbean, off the south east coast of Florida State, USA. It consists of around 700 islands with Nassau being the capital city. These Islands are one of the worlds leading principal financial centres. Together with its proactive and progressive legislation it has established generous legal incentives to attract foreign investors. It is a stable, developing nation with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking. The Bahamas has one of the oldest parliamentary democracies in the western hemisphere, with a political and legal system that closely follows the UK. Coupled with economic and monetary stability, the Bahamas possess an excellent infrastructure for commercial and industrial activity. It offers an extremely skilled and professional work force of accountants, law firms, international bankers and trustees.

Located on the Caribbean seaboard of Central America, Belize is an independent democratic Commonwealth. Since its independence from Britain in 1981, it has enjoyed a stable and democratic Government. With the introduction of the International Business Companies Act in 1990, Belize is one of the newest Caribbean jurisdictions to the offshore market. Flexible legislation modelled from the British Virgin Islands has enabled Belize to steadily become a popular offshore corporate domicile.

Bermuda consists of a group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the Carolina coast. It provides a favourable environment in which to conduct business, as it is economically and politically stable. It is a highly respected jurisdiction with tax neutrality and no exchange controls for non-resident undertakings. Along with its thriving tourist industry, Bermuda has established itself within the offshore industry with its modern business laws and its well-developed professional infrastructure.

British Virgin Islands
Located in the Eastern Caribbean region, the British Virgin Islands are an English-speaking dependent territory of the United Kingdom. The Islands are politically stable and possess a well-developed commercial and professional infrastructure. Since the introduction of the International Business Company in 1984, the Islands are now an eminent corporate domicile jurisdiction. There are now over 300,000 IBCs incorporated in the BVI, used for holding, trading and investments. The government has strengthened and enhanced legislation to prohibit the formation of offshore banks on the Island and has in return reduced money laundering activities greatly. As a result of its highly flexible and modern legislation BVI has become extremely popular in the offshore market.

Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands consist of a group of three islands located in the Caribbean between Cuba and Central America. They are one of the largest offshore banking centres in the world with over 600 banks. The Islands are politically stable and have an established commercial infrastructure. There are no exchange controls enabling funds to be moved freely in and out of the Cayman Islands.

People’s Republic of China (PRC) is situated in eastern Asia, bounded by the Pacific in the east. It is third largest country in the world, which has one-fifteenth of the world’s land mass and one-fifth of the world’s population. Since the implementation of the Open Door Policy and economic reforms at 1980s, economic growth has been rapidly in the PRC. The policy not only encourages foreign investments, but also promotes foreign trade. In December 2001, China has become the 143rd member of the World Trade Organization. Entering to the WTO signifies China that it is being brought into the global trading system based on commonly accepted rules and norms. Accession to the World Trade Organization helps strengthen its ability to maintain strong growth rates in which foreign investment remains a strong element in China’s remarkable economic growth. In 2003, China ranked as the second-largest economy in the world just after the US.

Cook Islands
The Cook Islands are a group of islands situated in the South Pacific Ocean, West of Tahiti and South of Hawaii. The Islands became fully self-governing in 1965 under the Cook Islands Constitution Act of 1964, but retains a close relationship with New Zealand. New Zealand has responsibility for Cook Islands’ external affairs and defence. Second to tourism, the offshore sector began in 1981 and is rapidly growing. The Government supports the continuing growth of the Cook Islands as a leading offshore financial centre. The Cook Islands have been praised by the FATF for its measures in the enactment of the Money Laundering Prevention Act. The Cook Islands is a well established jurisdiction with good communication systems and no exchange controls.

Costa Rica
Costa Rica is located in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama. It became independent from Spain in 1821 and is politically stable, with an expanding economy. The main sources of revenue are electronics exports, tourism and agriculture. However, the government has taken considerable steps and measures to encourage foreign investments. There are no significant barriers to foreign investment and restrictions on the repatriate of profits other than the deduction of withholding taxes. There is a relatively sophisticated legal infrastructure in place with businesses having a wide choice of structures under which to operate. Costa Rica is not subject to double tax treaties and exchange controls.

Cyprus possesses a strategic location at the intersection of the routes between Western Europe and the Arab world. So far, the Island enjoys the benefits of an association agreement with the European Union with regard to the establishment of a custom union and has applied for a full membership of the EU. It is a prosperous offshore financial centre that enjoys an open free market economy. The government of Cyprus has implemented significant tax incentives and very reasonable government fees. Cyprus has the advantages of 27 double tax treaties. Furthermore, Cyprus is renowned for its efficient banking infrastructures and effective legal, accounting and administrative services provided by highly qualified professional sector.

Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is situated in the geographical centre of Europe. Surrounding the Czech Republic lies Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Austria. The Czech Republic has strict controls on ownership of property by non-nationals, but does not have controls on share ownership of Czech Companies. The Czech Company is therefore an ideal vehicle for purchase and holding of property in the country. The Czech Republic has two types of companies, a Joint Stock Company and a Limited Liability Company. These two corporate entities are most commonly used by foreign company operations in the Czech Republic.

The Commonwealth of Dominica, also called Dominica is an island situated between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Dominica must not be confused with the Dominican Republic and is a relatively recent offshore financial centre. The government has implemented incentives towards the offshore financial industry and as a result Dominica presently possesses most of the main asset security features. The Commonwealth of Dominica is an independent sovereign jurisdiction and is not affected by UK and EU legislation. Dominica is already quickly emerging into a premier offshore financial centre in the Caribbean.

Dutch Antilles
Situated in the Leeward and Windward Islands of the Caribbean, the Dutch Antilles is an autonomous part of the Netherlands. It is a self-governing federation of five Caribbean Islands. Although it still forms part of the Dutch Kingdom it is regarded as one of them most stable democracies in the region. The financial and professional infrastructure is highly advanced. Its main offshore sectors are banking, mutual funds, shipping, licensing, insurance and holding companies. There are about 70 banks and more than 50 of them international. It has an established fund management industry with around $60bn of assets under administrations, trusts and insurance companies.

Hong Kong
Located in the South China Sea, Hong Kong consists of a large number of islands and a part of the Chinese mainland. As a result of its geographical location and excellent harbour, Hong Kong has become a focal point for international trade. In July 1997 all of Hong Kong became a Special Administration Region (HKSAR) of the Republic of China. The aim was to maintain HKSAR and the Republic of China as separate governmental, legal and economic systems. Its strong infrastructure, low tax rate and minimal government regulation have enabled Hong Kong to position itself as the gateway to the financial centre of the Pacific and Far East.

Isle of Man
Located in the Irish Sea between Britain and Ireland, the Isle of Man is a self governing territory within the Commonwealth. This Island is politically stable and fiscally independent from the European Union (EU). Although the Isle of Man is not a member of the EU, it benefits from a relationship with the EU, which allows free movement of goods in trade between the Island and other countries in the EU. The Isle of Man has a well-developed professional and financial infrastructure, with a strong banking and investment fund and captive insurance sectors. The government of the Isle of Man implemented tax incentives such as the absence of tax on capital transfer and inheritance and reduced corporate and personal taxes.

The Federal Territory of Labuan comprises of seven small islands located off the northeast coast of Borneo not far from Brunei. Labuan is a politically stable part of Malaysia and responsibility for its administration falls directly under the Prime Minister’s Department. In November 1989, the Government of Malaysia declared Labuan an International Offshore Financial Centre and in 1990 the Offshore Companies Act was enacted. The Malaysian government has committed substantial resources to the development of Labuan and as a result Labuan is fast becoming one the leading offshore centres of Asia. It is located on the major shipping and air routes of the Asian region. The combination of a well-developed financial and professional infrastructure and an advanced economy make Labuan an extremely attractive environment for the establishment of offshore companies.

The Principality of Liechtenstein is located in Central Europe between Austria and Switzerland. Liechtenstein is a constitutional hereditary monarchy with a Prince as head of State and a democratically elected parliament. It is a politically stable modern democratic state. Banking and financial services are one of Liechtenstein’s main industries and within this industry there are high levels of secrecy with heavy sanctions imposed for any breaches of confidentiality. One of the main attractions of Liechtenstein is its extremely flexible company law, which allows for the creation of any type of legal organisation, which is recognised under the law of any jurisdiction in the world. Low taxes and easy incorporation rules have induced approximately 74,000 holding companies that provide around 30% of state revenues. Liechtenstein has developed into a prosperous, highly industrialised, free-enterprise economy with a vital financial service. The country participates in a customs union with Switzerland and has been a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and EU since May 1995. Its geographical location, approach to domestic and foreign policy, legal and economic framework, endow it with outstanding qualities as a business center. Its close ties with Switzerland, coupled with its membership of the European Economic Union Area (EEA), create a broad and potentially profitable field of activity for industry, trade, financial services and foreign investors.

Malta is situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, south of Italy. It gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964 and is now a sovereign independent state. It enjoys political, economic and social stability. The Republic of Malta is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth and forms an integral part of Western Europe both politically and culturally. It has succeeded in attracting foreign investors as a result of its strong infrastructure, labour force and its continuously increasing number of banks. Advanced modern legislation has introduced the registration of International Holding Companies (IHC) and the International Trading Company (ITC). These two companies are designed to take advantage of the tax treaties signed by Malta, allowing for the relief of tax on cross border transactions.

Marshall Islands
The Marshall Islands consist of a group of islands in the south Pacific, located between Indonesia and Hawaii. The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) became an independent and sovereign nation in 1986 after signing the Compact of Free Association with the United States (and became a full member of the United Nations in 1991). The RMI has a politically stable government and excellent communications. As well as a rapidly growing ship registry, the RMI has advanced professional and technological infrastructures. The movement of funds is free from any exchange or currency controls.

The Island of Nevis is located in the Eastern Caribbean, measuring 93 square kilometres. Nevis was once known as the ‘Queen of the Caribbean?as it was the richest and most developed island in the Caribbean. Since gaining independence ion 1983, the Federation has had a history of political stability based upon the Westminster model of government and continuity of national policy. The major source of revenue is tourism followed by offshore financial services. Today, Nevis is recognised in the international arena as a predominant trust and company jurisdiction in the world and as a flourishing, mature and modern international financial centre. Nevis also enjoys secure stability, financial integrity and a well planned modern legislation.

New Zealand
New Zealand lies in the South Pacific Ocean and consists of two large islands and a number of smaller islands. Granted autonomy in 1947, New Zealand has a progressive economy that is based largely upon banking and finance. It has undergone substantial structural reform since 1984 and as a result has experienced economic liberalisation. There have been several reforms, such as the removal of interest and exchange controls allowing the free flow of capital in and out of the country. The government has implemented various changes to encourage greater investment in New Zealand. With the overall tax incentives highlighting the positive attitude of the government to place New Zealand amongst the best international financial centres.

Niue is one of the largest coral Islands in the world. Its economy depends largely on New Zealand, which is a three-hour flight. At present, three important sources of revenue for the Island are the food processing of local crops, sale of collection postage stamps and tourism. However, the main efforts are directed towards the tourism and the financial services industry. Niue is not very well known yet as an offshore jurisdiction. It also presents the considerable advantage to offer total confidentiality and anonymity. The telecommunications are a weakness of this Island. There is no port, only an offshore anchorage and thus Niue is not suitable for shipping. There is no exchange control and no tax on offshore profits. Niue did not sign any Double Tax Treaties.

The Republic of Panama is located in the centre of the American Continent and lies between Costa Rica to the north and Colombia to the south. It has a growing banking and insurance sector. There are no restrictions on foreign investments or exchange control. Panama is one of the oldest offshore centres in the world and has a strong professional infrastructure as well as favourable commercial secrecy laws. As an established tax-friendly investment and offshore financial services centre, Panama also possesses the world’s principal yacht and ship registration.

Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is an island located in the Caribbean, often referred to as the Pearl of the Caribbean. The quality of telecommunications is high due to a modern system specially integrated with that of the United States. The economy is frequently described, by professionals, as one of the most dynamic in the Caribbean. The thriving tourism industry and diverse industrial sector continue to ensure the economical stability of the island. Together with political stability and excellent banking facilities, Puerto Rico has fast emerged as an able competitor within the offshore market.

The Seychelles comprises of a group of small islands situated in the Indian Ocean, to the north of Madagascar. The capital Victoria is located within Mahe -the main Island. Seychelles is becoming one of the most attractive offshore financial international centres due to the incentive laws implemented by its government. The Investment Promotion Act was enacted in 1994 to encourage incoming investments. This jurisdiction offers total confidentiality and anonymity and is recommended for high profile trading operations. It has excellent up-to-date telecommunications network and advanced professional and technological infrastructures.

The Republic of Singapore is situated at the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula. Strategically located along the major shipping and air routes of Asia, Singapore has excellent international trading links. It is a British Commonwealth country and gained independence from Great Britain in 1965, but still retains close links with the British Crown. Offshore investors are well served by representatives of most major international banks, financial institutions, investment management companies, accounting and legal firms. It is also one of the leading international financial centres with an advanced and bustling economy. It thrives on political stability, an excellent professional and technological infrastructure.

St Lucia
Located in the Eastern Caribbean, St. Lucia gained autonomy in 1967 and full independence as a member of the British Common wealth in 1979. Having been one of the last to enter the arena of financial services, the island has pristine reputation with strict licensing laws and regulations. Along with a stable democracy St. Lucia possesses modern state of the art telecommunication services. This island, with its improving infrastructure and technology is fast developing as a major business centre.

St Vincent and The Grenadines
St. Vincent and The Grenadines (SVG) is an independent and politically stable nation, located in the Eastern Caribbean Sea to the north of Trinidad and Tobago. The strength of this jurisdiction is without doubt its financial privacy supported by its restrictive secrecy laws. The Preservation of Confidential Relationships (International Finance) Act 1996 fully supports confidentiality of all information filed with the Offshore Finance Authority of SVG. The International Trust Act, 1996 provides excellent features for foreign asset protection and strict trustee confidentiality. SVG has an excellent communications system and banking infrastructure. The comprehensive legislative changes to the International Business Act 1996 have placed SVG at the forefront of the world’s offshore financial centres.

Turks and Caicos Islands
Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are a group of islands situated in the Caribbean southeast of the Bahamas. The islands are politically stable and have their own government since the Constitution was introduced in 1976. They remain a British Colony to date. Turks and Caicos Islands pride itself with a small but vibrant open economy, which depends largely on tourism and the offshore finance industry. It has modern telecommunication systems. There is no exchange control and double tax treaties.U

United Kingdom
The United Kingdom (UK) comprises of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is one of the fifteen member states of the European Union. It is regarded as one of the world’s great trading powers and leading financial centre, lying between Tokyo and New York. Whilst no longer a tax haven in the true sense of the word, the UK enjoys lower corporation tax rates in comparison to other EU countries. The UK is also party to more double tax treaties than any other sovereign state therefore a UK company can serve as an important tax planning tool.

United States of America
Consisting of 52 independent states, the United States is a federal republic bound by the United States Constitution. It is has a diverse and technological advanced economy. The United States ranks first in the world in the total value of its economic production. The professional community of investment management companies, insurance companies, major international banks, certified public accountants, legal firms and financial analysts is well represented. Along with the combination of double taxation treaties and the fact that foreign tax authorities do not generally consider the USA a tax haven, it has a thriving environment of financial and political stability, excellent professional and technological infrastructure and remains the world’s most powerful nation-state.