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Cayman Islands - More on Offshore Jurisdiction

Cayman Islands

Capital: George Town
Population: 42,000 (est. 2003)
Languages: English (official)
Area: 262 sq. km (land area)
Currency: Caymanian dollar (KYD)
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March
Independence status: overseas territory of the UK
 

BACKGROUND
THE CAYMAN ISLANDS are three small islands (Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman) about 480 miles south of Miami, and just north of Jamaica in the Caribbean Sea. The population is made up of about 20% Caucasian, 25% black and 55% mixed race. The Cayman Islands are an English speaking British Crown colony especially suitable for U.S. businessmen and Canadian businessmen owing to their close proximity to the U.S. and North America. The main industries are tourism, financial services, boat building and fishing. There are more than 500 bank and trust companies, and over 300 insurance companies registered in this world famous tax haven. The Caymans receive over 500,000 tourists every year, most of them from the U.S.A.

Legal System
The Islands are a common law jurisdiction, and, aside from the addition of a number of statutes to reflect the particular needs of the business community, have adopted a system similar to that of the UK. The court system comprises four tiers: the Summary Court; the Grand Court; the Court of Appeal; and the Privy Council, which is the court of final appeal and is seated in London.

Currency
The Cayman dollar floats against the pound sterling, and is roughly equivalent to USD1.20 There are no exchange controls in Cayman limiting what currency you can use.

Confidentiality
Any proposed company, the objects of which are to be carried out mainly outside the Cayman Islands, may apply to be registered as an exempted company. The register of shareholders of an Exempted company is NOT open to public inspection to preserve the confidentiality. Bearer shares may be issued for exempted companies in which case no disclosure of shareholders is called for, but most investors or company owners prefer to use nominee shareholders instead. Severe penalties ensure confidentiality between client and professionals under Confidentiality Relationship (Preservation) Law.

Taxation
Guarantees against future taxes are available to exempted companies and trusts. Exempted companies can receive a guarantee from the government for a period not exceeding 30 years. Exempted trusts can receive a guarantee for 100 years. The Caymans have no tax treaties with any nation. Tax lawyers refer to the Caymans as a no-tax or zero tax haven. Taxes or all types simply do not exist in this country. Like the other no-tax havens of the Bahamas, Bermuda, Anguilla, Vanuatu and Nauru (in the South Pacific), the Caymans have traditionally enjoyed a complete absence of direct taxation.

New Legislations
There are principally two types of companies you can register in the Caymans; the exempted and the ordinary company. Foreign investors almost always choose the exempted company because its register of shareholders is not open to public inspection, and it may be kept inside or outside the Cayman Islands. The register of shareholders for ordinary companies are open to public inspection. Exempted companies do not have to file annual returns with the Registrar, although an annual declaration must be filed. Exempted companies must hold a directors meeting in Cayman once a year. Typically, alternate directors or an assistant secretary are provided by the lawyer, trust company, bank or accountants that formed the company to comply this requirement.


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