Using Singapore as an Offshore Jurisdiction

 


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This is another heavily used jurisdiction suffering from eroded privacy.

The first problem we run into with Singapore is taxation. Offshore derived profits are thought to be non-taxable in Singapore BUT:

In accordance with Goods and Sales Tax (GST) Law, a Singapore Company is obliged to register for GST if annual sales exceed or are expected to exceed S$1 million (US$614,000) in any calendar year. This is not a good thing because it can lead to audits, disclosures, etc.

In accordance with Section 145 (1) of the Singapore Companies Act 1963, a Singapore Company shall have at least one director who is ordinarily resident in Singapore. This is another bothersome ordinance.

Annual accounts must be prepared and submitted to the Singapore Inland Revenue Authority and this is what we call a deal killer but it gets worse.

Singapore has what is called double taxation treaties with 33 nations. Again not an encouraging sign at all. This is a sign of allowing fishing expeditions on a wholesale basis.

Banking – Again rather disappointing.

Under the existing legislation, no bank official or other individual with official access to banking records, is allowed to reveal information about individual bank accounts during or after the termination of his employment or professional relationship with the bank. So far so good but read on. There are exceptions to this and information disclosure is permitted in certain circumstances. For example; if the customer or his personal representative gives permission; where the disclosure of the information is for the purposes of civil proceedings involving the bank; where bank officials are compelled to do so by any written law and where the information is required to assess the credit-worthiness of a customer in connection with a commercial transaction. So now a credit check can be a reason to violate bank privacy. I am sure glad Panama has no credit bureaus.

In addition, the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes Act ("the CDTA") also affects banks’ disclosure of information where criminal investigations are concerned. The CDTA allows an authorized officer to apply to court for a production order for a bank to produce any documents or other materials to aid a criminal investigation. Also under this Act, a bank is not acting improperly or liable for damages if it decides to disclose to the authorities a suspicion or belief that any property, funds or investments are derived from or used in connection with any criminal activities. Note all it needs is a hunch not proof and then the whole grab your money for eternity machinery can fall upon your bank account. Worse yet, read on.

New legislation enacted last year also means that Singapore will give and receive international assistance in criminal matters, including the provision and obtaining of evidence. Requests by a foreign country to Singapore for such assistance may be made to the Attorney-General who may apply to the court for a production order or search warrant against anyone, including banks, who are then required by law to disclose relevant information to aid an investigation. This is overly broad, dangerous and opens the door for fishing expeditions. Singapore is one to avoid.

For more information on offshore jurisdictions click here: http://www.panamalaw.org/

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