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Bahamas, The Commonwealth of - More on Offshore Jurisdiction

 

Bahamas, The Commonwealth of

Capital: Nassau
Population: 300,000 (est. 2003)
Languages: English (official), Creole
Area: 10,070 sq. km (land area)
Currency: Bahamian dollar (BSD)
Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June
Independence status: 10/07/1973 (from U.K.)
 

BACKGROUND
THE COMMONWEALTH OF BAHAMAS, as they are officially known, is made up of some 700 islands and 2,500 cays or islets scattered over 750 miles of the Atlantic Ocean. Only about 25 of the Bahama islands are inhabited, and three-fourths of the people reside on just two islands; New Providence (where Nassau the Capital is located) and Grand Bahama Island (Freeport). The Bahamas is a stable, developing nation with an economy heavily dependent on tourism and offshore banking.

Legal System
Today, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain the official head of state. Under the 1973 Constitution, the British Monarch appoints a Governor-General who ceremoniously appoints other members to the 17 member Senate. Effectively, the black majority, which control the Assembly, now control the white minority in the matters of political affairs in the Bahamas. In regards to political stability, you have to rate the Bahamas as one of the most stable tax havens in the world. With strong ties to Britain, protection from a foreign aggressor is practically guaranteed by the British Royal Navy.

Currency
The stability of the Bahamian economy is partially due to the stablization of Bahamian Dollar. The Bahamian Dollar has been pegged on a 1:1 ratio to the U.S. Dollar to facilitate the cash transactions etc... The U.S. Dollar and the Bahamian Dollar are used interchangeably throughout the islands.

Confidentiality
Confidentiality is excellent with the English common law duty of confidentiality being preserved and expanded upon by statute imposing penalties upon banks, attorneys, auditors and government officials who are privy to private information. Additionally, the Bahamas have no tax treaties or agreements for the exchange of information with any other state except agreements covering mutual assistance in cases of drug trafficking.

Taxation
An International Business Company("IBC") is a company, which is restricted from carrying on business with persons resident in the Bahamas, and cannot invest in real property situated in the Bahamas, other than by holding a lease of property for use as an office. An IBC cannot carry on any banking, trust, insurance or reinsurance business, or provide other restricted businesses. An IBC is not taxed in the Bahamas. Maintaining a bank account or retaining local professional services etc.. is not considered carrying on a business in the Bahamas under the Act.

New Legislations
The International Business Company ("IBC") Amendment Act 2000 was introduced and repealling the previous IBC legislation which allowed for companies to be quickly and easily incorporated for the purpose of transacting offshore business. Main new enactment is:-
  • to abolish bearer shares
  • to setup IBC by a minimum of one shareholder
  • to setup IBC by a minimum of one director
  • to abolish the requirement of holding an Annual Meeting

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