Offshore bank accounts are commonly sought after to enable funds to be received or remitted pursuant to the establishment of offshore companies or offshore trusts. In addition confidentiality and easy access to fund by way of online access, debit card or credit card contribute to the popularity of offshore bank accounts. Nevertheless it should be remembered that at least the following factors must be considered before opening an offshore accounts, corporate or individual.
Confidentiality: It should be remembered that full disclosure of beneficial ownership is mandatory in almost all centres. The use of anonymous account is the thing of the past. Whilst in general customer’s confidentiality will always be protected, such protection is only afforded to customers with genuine business. In most cases, where there is a court order requiring disclosure or where there is suspicion that a transaction involves proceed of criminal activity, a bank may be compelled to make disclosure. Recent OECD’s initiative on compelling exchange of information between member states and between offshore centres and member states will make “confidentiality” advantage questionable. In the near future, many offshore centres will demand for financial information to be made available by offshore service providers. It is however not clear how and to what extent the available financial information will be made use by regulators in each centre.
Due diligent requirement: Most offshore centres have now legislated laws on anti-money laundering and anti-terrorists financing measure with the effect that banks are required to apply more stringent customer due diligent procedures. In most cases documents required are more numerous and time taken to approve an application is longer than before.
Documentation: No two banks have identical requirement to meet their due diligent prior to opening accounts. Nevertheless common theme appears. It must be remembered that bank reference, detailed explanation of business and source of fund are commonly required.
Cost: Opening and maintaining offshore bank account may be a costly affair. Our clients are advised that at least one-time introduction fee must be paid and bank charges for transactions carried out may be more expensive with some offshore banks.
We have assisted hundreds of clients in opening offshore bank accounts in various centres and are able equipped to advise on the confidentiality, due diligent, documentation requirement and cost aspects of opening and maintaining offshore bank accounts. The fact that we are qualified intermediaries with a few banks also ensure that our clients’ application enjoy high rate of success.