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Information about Independent Caribbean Nations and British Territories - Anguilla, Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands & The Cayman Islands - with Features that can be Useful for Tax Reduction, Asset Protection, Investing, Banking and a Wide Range of Other International Tactics & Strategies.

ANGUILLA

This British Dependent Territory has modern legislation - The Companies Ordinance of l994. Most names are available, however you can not use "Bank", "Trust", "Investment" or names that suggest the patronage of the Royal Family without authorization. Names must end in "Ltd.", "Corporation", "Corp.", "Incorporated", "Inc.", "SA", "GmBH" or similar designations. Incorporations can be completed within 24 hours and shelf corporations are available.

It is permissible to have bearer and no-par-value shares as well as to operate with one director, who may also be the secretary, and who may reside outside of Anguilla. While meetings may be held anywhere, a Registered office and agent must be in Anguilla, but no information concerning shareholders or directors needs to be disclosed. The minute book, resolutions, seal and shareholder register must be kept at the registered office.

A government fee of $250 is due upon incorporation - assuming capitalization of $50,000 or less - and while no annual return is required an annual fee in the amount of $250 must be paid, assuming all shares are no-par-value. Anguilla does not have any exchange controls or double tax treaties.

ANTIGUA

In the 1970s and 80s many of the British Dependent Territories were happy to accept applications for banking licenses with a minimum of paperwork and fuss - resulting in significant scandals and criminal activity. In reaction, the UK imposed increased standards on the territories which are now unwilling to receive applications from anybody other than existing international recognized banks. Therefore, jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands, etc., are worthy of consideration mainly for major financial institutions.

Antigua, an independent Caribbean island Commonwealth member, is an exception and is currently welcoming applications for banking licenses. The licenses require a paid in capital of US$1,000,000, but no requirements regarding capital reserves or loan ratios are imposed, and the physical presence that a management company can provide is all that is needed.

Antigua therefore represents a possibility to obtain a banking license without the considerable costs which would be experienced in most other competitive jurisdictions. While capital requirements are higher than that of some of the Pacific rim Islands, but the license granted is broader.

BAHAMAS

The Bahamas, 700 islands with most of the inhabitants residing in Nassau and Freeport, are located 50 miles off the east coast of Florida and are an increasingly popular tourist destination.

An independent member of the British Commonwealth and a major financial center in its own right, it has modern and flexible legislation that allows the operation of companies formed under the International Business Act of 1989 in the way most desired by the beneficial owner. Government fees are only $100 capital duty and $100 annual fee for a minimally capitalized company and it is possible to form companies within 48 hours. Bearer and no-par-value share are permitted and one director, who may also be the secretary, may run the corporation from any location. A registered office and agent in the Bahamas must maintain minimal records, copies of the register of members and directors together with an impression of the seal. There is no public register, no annual return or accounts needs to be filed, no exchange controls which apply to International Business Companies and it has no double tax treaties.

The Bahamas welcomes applications for unrestricted and restricted banking licenses and both types must maintain reserves in cash, or near cash, equal to 20-25% of deposits. There is a minimum US$1,000,000 capitalization for an unrestricted license. This type of license can be obtained by private individuals, but only if they are able to show that they have a substantial net worth. Unrestricted licenses are more readily granted to financial institutions.

A restricted license enables the holder to provide banking and/or trust services only to a specified class of associated individuals or companies who would normally be named in the license or in a schedule attached to the license. The minimum paid up capital is only US$100,000 and fees for obtaining a restricted license are in the order of US$35,000.

BARBADOS

Barbados has modern and flexible legislation which allows for cost effective and speedy incorporation and operation of companies formed under the International Business Companies Act of 1982. Government fees are $390 capital duty and $100 annual fee for a minimal authorized capital company. Bearer shares are not permitted and one director, who can also be the secretary, may operate the company from any location. The public register of companies discourages company names with terms such as "International" or "Global" and names can not include "Imperial", "Bank" or "Bnsurance" without licenses. Audited accounts need to be filed if total assets or revenue exceed $500,000. There are no exchange controls and Barbados has double tax treaties with the USA, UK, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland. A registered office and agent must keep records, shelf companies are not available and details of shareholders are submitted to the Ministry of Finance.

BELIZE

Belize, formerly known as British Honduras, is an English speaking Commonwealth country on the sweltering Caribbean coast of Central America between Mexico and Guatemala. It has a Westminster style constitutional arrangement, free elections and peaceful transfers of power. A British garrison acts as a symbolic deterrent to Guatemala's long held territorial claims.

The country is relatively poor and under-populated (est. 212,000 in an area about the size of Wales or New Hampshire), but offers significant opportunities in the tourism, agriculture, marine culture and finance sectors, at least according to some experts. Its government operates an "Economic Citizenship Program" intended to stimulate inward investment and harness managerial and entrepreneurial skills.

Belize has modern and flexible legislation which allows for very cost effective and speedy incorporation and operation of companies formed under the International Business Companies Act of 1990. Government fees are only $100 capital duty and $100 annual fee for a minimal authorized capital company. Bearer and no-par-value shares are permitted and one director, who can also be the secretary may operate the company from any location.

There is no public register, no accounts or annual returns need to be filed, no exchange controls are applicable to International Business Companies and there are no double tax treaties. A registered office and agent must keep minimal records such as copies of the register of members (minimum one shareholder) and directors with an impression of the seal. Shelf companies are available and company names may not include "Imperial", "Bank" or "Insurance" without licenses.

BERMUDA

Bermuda is a highly respected jurisdiction with tax neutrality and no exchange control for non-resident undertakings. It has an established stock exchange, political stability, modern business laws, a good judiciary and a very well developed professional infrastructure including a very respected captive insurance industry. With easy access by sea and air it's one of the favorite tax havens and destination resorts for the British and American establishment. It is also expensive.

Annual government fees are $1,680 and there are no double tax treaties. Companies formed as exempt under the Companies Act of 1981 enjoy substantial advantages, including: No capital duty; No restriction on where meetings are held; Bermuda directors are not required; No restriction on location of meetings; No annual return or filing, and; No exchange controls. However, there is public disclosure of directors, officers and shareholders, but not accounts. Identity of the beneficial owners must be disclosed to the authorities prior to incorporation and the granting of tax exempt status. There are no double tax treaties.

Bermuda is recommended for substantial public business enterprises, especially insurance activity or companies which wish to list their shares.

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS (BVI)

The BVIs consist of 50 Islands located in the Caribbean approximately 50 miles east of Puerto Rico and has benefited greatly from extensive promotion by attorneys who moved their base of operation there from Panama during the Noriega regime.

The International Business Companies Act of 1984 is very flexible and permits the operation of companies with a minimum of fuss and cost. There is an annual tax of $300, provided the capital does not exceed $50,000, no-par-value and bearer shares are permitted and the company can be managed by one director without a secretary from any location. A registered office and agent are required. The only information on public file is the memorandum and articles, registered office and agent. There are no exchange controls or double tax treaties. Registration can be completed in one day and shelf companies are available.

CAYMAN ISLANDS

The Cayman Islands are a group of three islands in the Western Caribbean and one of the most well established of the Caribbean jurisdictions with a very sophisticated legal and banking infrastructure. It has recently made legislative changes to provide for greater flexibility, but is still expensive in comparison with other Caribbean jurisdictions.

There Are Two Types Of Companies: Non-Resident And Exempt.
A non-resident company must end with the word "Limited" or "Ltd." while an exempt company has no restriction except for words such as "Bank" and "Insurance". Capital duty payable upon incorporation is $500 and $427 respectively. Exempt companies are taxed at a flat rate of $500 per annum and may obtain a guarantee against the imposition of any future taxation for 20 years. Non-resident companies pay $427. Bearer shares are permitted to both, but only exempt companies can have no-par-value shares.

One corporate director may control the company from any jurisdiction and only a registered office in Cayman is required - a resident agent is not. The public file contains only the address of the registered office and a copy on the Memorandum and Articles of Association. No accounts need to be filed, but a limited report is required. Exempt companies must hold one directors meeting per year in the Caymans.

This document was excerpted, modified & otherwise prepared by the 'Lectric Law Library ('LLL) from materials supplied by Baltic Banking Group - www.BalticBankingGroup.com   Copyright 1998 - 2002 'LLL & BBG, all rights reserved.

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