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The Cook Islands – is an archipelago consisting of 15 islands located in the South Pacific between New Zealand and Hawaii. The population is a little more than 21 000 people, majority part of whom are indigenous people of the Maori islands. The capital is the city Avarua, situated on the largest archipelago Rarotonga. The official languages are English and Maori. Official currency – is New Zealand dollar (NZD).
At the end of the 16th century, these lands were discovered by the Spanish, for some time has been under British protectorate until in 1901 the Cook Islands was took over by the New Zealand. In 1965, the islands became an independent state, has free association with New Zealand, which takes decisions on matters of defense and foreign policy. The political structure of the country is characterized as parliamentary monarchy, headed by the Queen of the United Kingdom, but the islands do not have the status of dependent territories.
The main sectors of the economy to 80-ies of the last century were tourist industry, agriculture and fisheries. However, the economic decline, which has led the country in the 90s to bankruptcy, significant decline in living standards and mass emigration to neighboring New Zealand forced the government to pay attention to the flourishing financial services.
A new stage in the economic development of the country started with the formation of the offshore sector, which work was regulated by the laws on international companies adopted in the 80 years. The success of the offshore zone in many ways was due to the competent legislative framework, which is based on the Anglo-Saxon law. Taking it as a basis, the Government has developed laws that would honor the customer’s request from the various jurisdictions. The Cook Islands is classic offshore, as there is no taxation for foreign companies operating outside the jurisdiction. High level of confidentiality suggests keeping closed the register of shareholders and directors. One can use the nominee service. Mostly all offshore zones exempt companies from bookkeeping and financial statements, and in this sense, the Cook Islands is no exception.
In addition, there is no foreign exchange control, and the procedure for company registration in the Cook Islands is easy and not burdensome (registration period lasts 1-2 days). There are requests to the claimed share capital - at least $ 5,000, payment of which is not required during the company registration. For company establishment it is enough one shareholder and one director – private or legal persons, with no residency requirements. Cook Islands appears in the white list OECD that have a positive impact on the image of jurisdiction.
There are created favorable conditions for the trusts establishment, so this offshore area is among the world leaders in the field of protection, preservation and ownership of assets. The most common type of business is Cook Islands International Business Company. Along with IBC, there is international limited liability company, international limited partnerships, local limited liability companies, leasing companies, trusts.
International company may engages in any of the legally permitted activities, have registered legal address and registered agent. The company name must contain the end Limited or Ltd. One can issue shares without declared nominal; it is prohibited to issue the bearer shares. As already was mentioned, high degree of confidentiality involves non-disclosure of information about beneficiary and banking operations of the company to third parties. The basis for the disclosure of such data may be only local court decision.
The directors and shareholders meetings can be held anywhere in the world. Place for documents storage is determined at the discretion of the owners. It is necessary the presence of resident secretary, but there are no skill requirements. There are no VAT, tax on capital gains, dividends, interest for non-resident companies. There is no necessity to pay income tax and stamp duty.
One of six authorized companies, which subsequently provide legal address to registered company, holds offshore companies registration.
There are the following expenses for the foreign company establishment and maintenance:
- $ 500 for registration and annual renewal of the company (state duty);
- About $ 1,600 for the authorized company services concerning the registration;
- Payment for secretary services, and employees, the presence of which is optional, but desirable.
Moving the foreign companies in Cook Islands provided by the legislation, as well as the reverse process. Special conditions are offered for Hong Kong companies moved to the jurisdiction, and offshore companies from the Cook Islands, for which Hong Kong provides simplified registration procedure.
Account opening is possible in banks of any country without restriction of its number. Information on banking transactions is confidential and its disclosure would cause the criminal liability. The Cook Islands have no signed agreement on avoidance of double taxation.
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