A Guide to the Use of Offshore Companies
There is no magic or mystery surrounding offshore companies. This may sound simplistic, but an offshore company is essentially the same as any other company. Thus an offshore company can carry out the same types of business as companies incorporated in onshore areas and like other companies the liability of its shareholders is generally limited to the amount of capital they have put in to the company.
The major difference between an onshore company and an offshore company is that the rate of tax applied by the government in the jurisdiction in which an offshore company is incorporated is either very low or zero. Additionally some offshore companies are easier to administer and more confidential than onshore companies.
Of course the rules and regulations surrounding the establishment and management of offshore companies are slightly different in every offshore jurisdiction.
- Save tax
- Protect assets and reduce risk
- Reduce Costs
- Maintain privacy
- To avoid unwarranted bureaucracy
Uses of Offshore Companies
- Investment Holding
- Property Investment
- Patent, Royalty and Copyright Holding
- Entertainment, Consultancy and Professional Services
- Ship Management and Yacht Owning
- International e-commerce Operations
In general the formation of an offshore company is simple – we do this for you! What really requires thought is management and administration, thus we strongly encourage our clients to consider the administration and management of an offshore company from the inception of their plans.
A common misconception is that a company must be administered in its place of incorporation. This is not the case and it is often beneficial to have, for example, a company incorporated in the Seychelles administered in Mauritius.
Pursuant to international regulations concerning the prevention of drug trafficking and money laundering OCRA Mauritius strictly implements Anti Money Laundering Procedures which comply with the laws, rules and guidelines issued by the Mauritius Government.
Whilst we respect and honour your privacy and respect any need you may have for confidentiality, we are committed to undertaking a full and thorough due diligence of both our clients’ identities and the nature of their businesses. To this end, we need to be fully appraised of both the rationale behind the establishment of any corporate or trust structure and its modus operandi. This formal approach to due diligence benefits both OCRA Mauritius and our clients.
OCRA Mauritius will not divulge to any third party any information concerning its clients, without their prior written consent. OCRA Mauritius reserves the right to treat this obligation of confidentiality as not applicable when it is obliged by law to divulge such information or when OCRA Mauritius has been unable to obtain instructions from clients and it appears to OCRA Mauritius to be in the best interests of our clients to provide information.
To assist clients to keep their affairs private and to prevent unwarranted intrusion we provide the following core services:
- Professional Directors
- Nominee Shareholders
- Bank account signatories
- Administrative assistance
- Communication services, such as telephone and facsimile handling
We are able to provide professional directors to act on the instructions of clients. It is important to understand that our directors’ liabilities are exactly the same as those of any other director. Therefore when we are asked to provide directors we need to know exactly what sort of business the company is undertaking and to monitor and control its activities on a day to day basis. In many countries directors have to be real people – individuals like you. However, in many offshore centres corporate directors are permitted. These are companies that act as directors of other companies. We have formed special companies to act as directors in many different jurisdictions. In some jurisdictions a majority of directors must be resident in the country of incorporation.
Powers of Attorney
This power to bind a company can be delegated to other persons through a legal document known as a “Power of Attorney”.
For these clients seeking privacy in their affairs we provide a “nominee shareholders service”. We have formed nominee companies in many jurisdictions around the world and their sole purpose is to hold shares on behalf of clients. To protect our clients interest the nominee companies enter in to a contract known as a “declaration of trust” with the owners of the company that prevents the nominee company from acting without instructions from the owners.
The beneficial owner of a company is the person who ultimately owns a company. All banks will require the identity of the beneficial owner of an offshore company to be disclosed before opening any accounts.
In most common law jurisdictions a company secretary is required. This person is responsible for maintaining the statutory books of a company and filing annual returns. In some jurisdictions corporate company secretaries may be corporate bodies whilst in other jurisdictions company secretaries must possess qualifications and be resident in the country of incorporation.
The capital of the company is the funding provided by the shareholders. In some jurisdictions the capital of the company must be held in a particular currency. The authorised capital is the maximum amount of capital that may be injected in to a company and the issued capital is the amount that has been paid up by the shareholders. Shareholders liability is generally limited to the amount of paid up capital.
In most offshore jurisdictions the minimum issued capital is low. Increase in authorised capital beyond a certain level is often subject to capital taxes. We generally form offshore companies with the maximum amount of authorised capital allowed for the minimum capital taxes.
Registered Office and Registered Agent
The registered office is the place where the company’s books must be maintained and often these books must be available for public inspection at the registered office. The registered office is the place where official and legal documents should be delivered.
In some jurisdictions, a qualified resident agent must be appointed. In these cases the resident agent maintains certain information about the company We provide registered office and resident agent for all of our clients.
OCRA Mauritius maintains a stock of ready made companies on a “shelf list”. These shelf companies will never have traded, have a range of attractive names and are available for use within a few days. Alternatively, if you require a company with a particular name or a company from a jurisdiction that does not allow for shelf companies we will obtain name approval and specially incorporate a company for you.