Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What is a shelf company or shelf corporation?

A shelf corporation, also called an aged corporation, is a corporation that has had no activity. It was created and put on the "shelf" to age. This corporation is then later usually sold to someone who would prefer to have an aged corporation rather than a new one. A business entity that is created through a process other than incorporation (such as a limited liability company) is simply called a shelf company.

Common reasons for buying a shelf corporation include:

  • Saving the time involved in taking the steps to create a new corporation.

  • Gaining the opportunity to bid on contracts. Some states require that your company be in business for a certain length of time.

  • Creating an appearance of corporate longevity.

  • Access to investment capital.

  • Easier access to corporate credit.

Many years ago, it would take months to properly incorporate a business. However, it is now quite easy, at least in Australia, the United States, Canada and Western Europe; to do so. In fact, it can now be done in as little as a couple of hours. It is questionable whether a shelf corporation improves access to capital, since creditors and investors look into a company's history as part of due diligence.

A number of companies "produce" and sell shelf corporations, promoting the fact that the new buyer can at the same time have a corporation with a long history, and yet have complete control over the establishment of the corporations board of directors and shareholder profile.

How to Set Up An Offshore Bank Account

Lots of guys use offshore accounts for a variety of reasons. For the most part, banking offshore is about saving on tax dollars.

But if taxes aren’t a concern, liability may very well be -- in which case offshore banking limits a creditor’s access to your funds (different country, different law).

Here’s how you can open an offshore bank account.

Legal issues
If you’re a U.S. citizen, it’s not illegal per se to open an offshore account. If the underlying reason, however, for setting up the account is an illegal act, you might be keeping your money safe, but you could still be in hot water. The offshore bank account, however, may remain free from the long arm of the law.

When you bank in the U.S., you can be secure in the knowledge that your money is insured by the government. No such guarantees exist with offshore banks. Furthermore, you could find yourself scammed; it does happen.

Offshore banking isn’t just for the super wealthy, but it’s not for paupers either. Minimum deposits vary by bank, but you need to pick a number to make it worth your while.

You don’t have to visit your money or even be there to open the account. This is international business at its finest and bankers wire money by phone and e-mail. However, at the end of the day, you’re still in your country and your money is somewhere else.

Set Up An Offshore Bank Account in Switzerland

Accounts can be set up in person or via mail. The key feature of a Swiss bank account is secrecy. It works like your American bank, but most legal matters like divorce, taxes and bankruptcy are considered private. In fact, the Swiss are known for keeping their secrets. While some countries change their laws under American pressure, Switzerland just keeps going. On the other hand, everyone knows about Swiss bank accounts, so if a creditor knows you’ve got one, they also know you’re hiding something.

Set Up An Offshore Bank Account on the Cayman Islands

Once again, it’s basically like setting up a U.S. account. The difference is that Cayman accounts are geared to corporations, so it’s possible to open an account and keep your identity a secret. In other words, your corporate name will be the only name the bank knows. If you’re clever and really concerned about secrecy, you’ll insulate yourself with a series of corporations, making a paper trail of holding companies that don’t lead to you. The Cayman Islands don’t officially encourage illegal activity like tax evasion, but they don’t report deposits or interest on those deposits -- that’s your job. But remember: In the war on terror and drugs, Cayman banks have buckled under American pressure. This means that when the bank opens its doors to the American government to catch a drug dealer or terrorist, it also opens the door to your information.

Set Up An Offshore Bank Account In Singapore

The setup in Singapore is much the same as anywhere else. Money moves to Singapore primarily for tax reasons because the country has the lowest tax rate in Asia. If you play your cards right, interest earned in Singapore can be tax free. While you might get tax breaks on interest in a lot of places, there’s a good reason to choose Singapore: Investment happens locally. Singapore banks pump money into China’s growing economy. So when you put your money in a Singapore bank, you’re doing three things: saving on taxes, investing in the world’s fastest growing economy and protecting your money by letting local experts pick and choose the investments for you. In other words, you get to invest in Asia without leaving home and without paying U.S. taxes.

Set Up An Offshore Bank Account in Luxembourg

There are a few hurdles to opening an account in Luxembourg, but they’re minor. For example, you’ll need a reference from your current bank and you’ll need to be able to answer some financial questions about how you intend to use that money in Luxembourg. Like Singapore, Luxembourg is known for a great return on investment, but that return has dropped for some deposit holders who are citizens of European countries. If you’re not affected, you’ll grow your money tax-free in a very stable country. In other words, if you pick Luxembourg over Singapore, you make a tradeoff: Your money might not grow as fast (although it will likely grow), but you won’t be exposed to the risk of investing in a developing economy.

IBC/Offshore Companies on British Virgin Islands

Progressive legislation
The British Virgin Islands IBC legislation was introduced in 1984 but was developing and subsequently amended taking into consideration the changes required by the persons providing BVI offshore services.

Efficient Incorporation/Registration
Under normal circumstances, BVI Corporations can be incorporated/Registered within 3 working days.

Flexibility in company structure of an offshore British Virgin Islands Company.
  • Only one director or shareholder required for the company formation.

  • Shareholder(s) and director(s) may be the same person.

  • The shareholder(s) and director(s) can be a natural person or a corporate body.

  • There is no requirement of appointing local shareholder(s) and director(s) for British Virgin Island Companies.

  • There is no requirement of resident secretary.
Privacy for identity of principals
The BVI incorporation documents do not carry the name or identity of any shareholder of director. The names or identities of these persons do not appear in any public record.

Shareholder(s) and director(s) nominee services are allowed to ensure confidentiality of beneficiaries.
  • Shares and capital requirements For British Virgin Islands Corporations.

  • Shares can be issued with or without par value;

  • Shares may be issued in any recognizable currency or in more than one recognizable currency;

  • Shares may be paid up in cash or through the transfer of other assets or for other consideration;

  • The standard share capital is USD $50,000 or an equivalent in another recognizable currency.

Minimum capitalization
The minimum paid in and issued capital may be one share which is fully paid.

Taxation of the BVI IBC on Profits
According to the BVI IBC Act of 1984, the offshore companies are exempted from all the taxes for the period of 20 years.