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Liechtenstein – is politically and economically stable offshore zone. Country is one of the four smallest countries in Europe, bordered by Austria and Switzerland. All these factors, as well as liberal taxation policy contributed to growth of country’s popularity as European economic center.
The state is in customs and monetary union with Switzerland, is a member of European Free Trade Association and is part of the European Economic Area. Liechtenstein is not a member of the European Union. Being in the past an agricultural country, after the conclusion of economic union with Switzerland, Liechtenstein became rapidly developing industrial and financial sector. The state is not a member of the OECD and FATF. Liechtenstein was entered in the "black list" for refusing to cooperate with these organizations, and qualified as a tax haven. Adoption of amendments to the law on due diligence and new law on mutual legal assistance in criminal cases has led to the fact that offshore zone Liechtenstein left the black list year later and has earned the approval of FATF compliance with the terms of its recommendations.
There are following advantages of the offshore zone Liechtenstein:
- Political and economic stability;
- High level of confidentiality;
- Strict observance of banking secrecy;
- Loyal taxation system.
The Law on Persons and Companies, Law on trust companies, Law on Funds and Law on Banks regulates the business of the company on the territory of Liechtenstein.
There are following the most popular types of companies in offshore Liechtenstein:
- Joint stock companies (AG)
- Limited Liability Company (GmbH)
- Anstalt (Anstalt)
- Funds (Stiftung)
Various corporate forms of companies registered in Liechtenstein, can be simultaneously holding or domiciliary companies. Law on individuals and companies defines holding companies as those whose purpose is to manage the property and assets or participation in other companies. Domiciliary companies - with registered office in the country and not leading commercial activities across the country. Most activities in offshore Liechtenstein does not require licensing. Banking, insurance activities and provision of professional services are exceptions.
For companies established in various forms in Liechtenstein, it is possible to identify a number of general requirements:
- The company should have a charter, which is transmitted to the registrar for registration in a public register;
- Company is classified as non-existent before entering the required information in the register;
- Information about directors and shareholders are in the Public Registry; data about beneficial owner of the company are available only to persons who carry out the registration.
As for the names of the companies, there are restrictions on the words using:
-pointing to the connection with certain activities (banking, insurance);
-those, which can misleading with respect to the objectives of the company.
For joint - stock company, (AG) minimum authorized capital is 50,000 CHF, which must be paid before the company registration. It is allowed bearer shares, which must be also paid. Shares may be with different right to vote (more than one or limited by the number of votes). Company is managed by the board, which consists at least from one director. One of the directors must be with country residency. There are no requirements of residency to shareholders (at least one). Directors and shareholders may be private or legal persons. The company must have a registered office or agent – with Liechtenstein residency, submits financial statements and audit.
For limited liability company (GmbH) the minimum authorized capital is 30,000 CHF. For company registration it is necessary at least two participants. At the time of company registration, participants must pay minimum 50 CHF. Director of a company registered in Liechtenstein can be private or legal person – with Liechtenstein residency. Secretary position is not required. Financial reporting and auditing is mandatory requirement for limited liability companies.
Such form of company, as Incorporation (Anstalt), is common only for Liechtenstein and, above all, is intended for holding activities. There are no shareholders and board members in such incorporation. Founders and Beneficiaries may be different persons. The minimum capital is 30,000 CHF, half of it (at least 30,000 CHF) must be paid at the time of company registration. The Board of Directors and Founder, who may be private or legal person, exercise administrative functions. One of the directors must be private person – with country’s residency. There are no requirements for the post of secretary. Information about beneficial owner of the company - is confidential.
Incorporation (Anstalt) submits the annual financial report. It is necessary to passing the audit for companies engaged in commercial activities. If company conducts investment activities, its income is not taxed.
Fund (Stiftung), established in Liechtenstein, is one of the most popular types of business. The minimum size of the capital fund – is 30,000 CHF. In accordance with the statute and constituent documents, the founders for the purpose of non-profit activities establish the fund. Assets, transferred to the fund, acquire the status of independent legal entity and not considered as personal property of the founder. Funds are ideal for inheritance assets, property management, storage of property, shares and cash. Fund management is carried out by at least two members of the Board of the Fund, one of which should have registration in Liechtenstein.
Trust, registered in Liechtenstein, suggests a lack of restrictions on the resources accumulation and perpetuity. The minimum amount of assets in the trust registration is 30,000 CHF. Trust agreement between the founder and the trustee is basis for the trust establishment. The names of the beneficiaries is unnecessary for mentioned.
The tax rate on corporate income for offshore Liechtenstein is 12.5%, annual tax on capital is charged at 0.1% but not less than 1000 CHF from the net capital of the company and must be prepaid. For funds, tax on capital is 0,75% - if the net capital exceeds 2 million CHF and 0.05% - with total capital above 10 million CHF.
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