Offshore bank licenses
The Antigua Bank was licensed for offshore banking operations seven years ago. Over the last years SloGold has developed close working relationships with many international banks in different jurisdictions and is, therefore, able to assist with the opening of corporate, trust and personal accounts in any convertible currency (multi currency). All of these banks provide the high quality of service that our clients expect including:
- Current cheque accounts
- Deposit accounts
- Fixed term deposit accounts
- Investment bonds
- Portfolio management services
- Loans and mortgages (subject to status)
- Documentary letters of credit
- International Swift transfers
- Debit and credit cards
- Provision of online banking services
Account opening procedures
You usually do not need to visit the bank with which you wish to work with. However, we'd always recommend clients to establish a personal relationship with a manager from their corporate bankers. Personal visits are particularly recommended when a corporate client is involved, or about to become involved, with complex or high-value transactions. Clients who communicate successfully with their corporate bankers will face few problems.
Most banks require us to provide them with certified copies of a company's certificate of incorporation, by-laws and a directors' resolution to open the bank account. Certain banks require the provision of a certificate of good standing and some Swiss and other banks require documents to be notarized and apostilled in a company's jurisdiction of incorporation.
All banks require evidence of beneficial ownership in the form of certified passport copies and appropriate board resolutions. Banks need to know their customerâs business and thus we need to know detailed plans for a new company's operations, including projected turnover and the geographic spread of business. One of the conditions of opening a new account with most banks is the placing of an initial deposit and some banks may insist that significant minimum balances be maintained.
Many banks require clients seeking to issue fax instructions for money transfers to execute an indemnity in favor of the bank.
The procedure to open a bank account with a major bank may take anything from 4 to 8 weeks. It takes banks this amount of time to check documentation and confirm references. The biggest causes of delays in opening bank accounts are the production of inadequate or incorrectly worded references and the slowness of banks issuing references to confirm them.
SloGold operates within internationally recognized provisions and regulation concerning due diligence and know your customer guidelines. Banks are subject to guidelines and regulations that are designed to ensure that money launderers are unable to utilize banks to hide their assets. Therefore, we require the following information on each beneficial owner, director, account signatory and all persons able to influence control on a company before processing an application to open a corporate bank account:
- A character reference addressed to the required bank from another bank. The reference should state that the person has been known to the referee for a period and is considered trustworthy, respectable and suitable for operating a bank account
- Notarized passport copies
- Original telephone or utility bills evidencing residential address
- A description of a company's intended investment and/or trading activities including geographic spread
- An indication of what a company's first years turnover is to be
- An initial deposit, to fund the new bank account, commensurate with bank policy
How to control accounts?
The opening of a bank account is one of the primary concerns of our clients. All major banks recognize the importance of being able to carry out instructions expeditiously, with many banks now providing online computer facilities that provide information to the authorized user and the ability to effect either inter-account or external electronic transfers. Clients preferring to issue instructions by fax are able to establish coded systems with the bank to ensure both confidentiality and security.
Know your customer principles
Banks are required by their regulators to know their customersâ identities and details of their business activities. Clients are encouraged to inform banks of changes in their business pattern or of any large transactions. Banks are suspicious of large inward transactions followed rapidly by large outward transfers from corporate accounts and generally do not wish to attract this type of business. A client who describes his business as a business consultancy with an estimated annual turnover of US$ 200,000 per annum should not be surprised if their corporate banker rejects an incoming transfer of several million dollars.
Both onshore and offshore banking centres have serious concerns relating to the laundering of the proceeds of drug trafficking and terrorism. Banks may require detailed information, such as copies of contracts or purchase orders, concerning source of funds to ensure that they do not become involved with money laundering and the layering of laundered funds. Self-evidently large cash transactions are bound to create suspicion and clients seeking to deposit more than US$ 10,000 in cash with a bank should provide explanations to their corporate bankers prior to attempting to place such deposits.
Our international clients seek confidentiality in their affairs to legitimately protect their assets from disasters, unwarranted third party interference and to reduce an ever-growing burden of unnecessary disclosure and explanation.
Confidentiality and privacy are often integral to risk management planning; and confidentiality, either on its own or combined with some other parameter, is a major factor in the use of offshore facilities.
Banking confidentiality is best assessed through consideration of the physical location of a bank and its corporate structure.
In Common Law offshore banking jurisdictions, confidentiality normally arises through four circumstances: specific laws or regulations designed to enshrine banking confidentiality, by the special relationship that exists between a client and their professional advisers, in an express contract and by virtue of the law of tort, whereby, for example, information with commercial value is protected against unjustifiable use.
In most European countries it is generally accepted that the relationship between a banker and a client is confidential and should not be disclosed without a court order. European banks are subject to European Union directives on such matters as money laundering and exchange of information, whilst many countries have exchange of information and mutual legal assistance provisions enshrined within double tax and other bilateral treaties.
The corporate structure of a bank is often an important selection parameter as normally clients seek to avoid banks incorporated or active in either their country of residence or where the bulk of their non-cash and non-bank assets are held. For example, a US citizen seeking confidentiality should carefully consider the wisdom of establishing a confidential banking relationship with an institution with a corporate presence in the US as a third party could seek redress through the US based corporate presence.
The UK is subject to the full burden of both European Union directives and a high level of both disclosed and undisclosed scrutiny by the authorities. Generally speaking levels of confidentiality amongst the BVI are broadly similar and satisfactory. Luxembourg remains a popular banking jurisdiction whilst undoubtedly Antigua, Costa Rica, Dominica, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Panama, Switzerland and Uruguay, both provide high levels of confidentiality.
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