The Cook Islands is a group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean approximately south west of Tahiti and due south of Hawaii. Local time is 10 hours behind GMT, with 9am in Hong Kong being 3pm the previous day in the Cook Islands. Its geographic location allows the Cook Islands to have strategic advantage in dealing with both the Asian and US markets.
The legal system is based on British common law and closely reflects that of New Zealand and other common law jurisdictions. The Cook Islands enjoys a highly developed infrastructure for business. There is a well-educated English speaking labour force. The country has sophisticated telecommunication links with the rest of the world and convenient air services to New Zealand and the US. There are no foreign exchange controls with complete freedom to repatriate capital and profits. It boasts the highest GDP per capita amongst the South Pacific small island nations.
The business and official language is English, with Cook Islands Maori as a second official language.
Below are several reasons why the Cook Islands legislation makes the Cook Islands the offshore jurisdiction of choice. These include:
- Entities established within the offshore jurisdiction are exempt from any form of taxation in the Cook Islands including stamp duty, capital gains tax and capital duty.
- Strong confidentiality provisions apply in the offshore regime, requiring government officials as well as trustee company and bank employees to observe strict secrecy. These provisions are backed by penal sanctions. The statutory records of the Registrar of International & Foreign Companies and of the Registrar of International Trusts are not open for general search, subject to the provisions of the Financial Transactions Reporting Act 2004, the Proceeds of Crimes Act 2003 and the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 2003.
- The Cook Islands is highly regarded for its “Asset Protection Trusts” legislation, which has since inception been adopted by other offshore centers. The Cook Islands boasts a strong judicial precedent, which supports its asset protection legislation.
- An international trust has no taxation liability in the Cook Islands and no requirement to file any returns, reports, or records.
- An international trust allows the Settlor to retain or acquire; a power of revocation of the Trust; a power of disposition over Trust property; a power to amend the Trust Deed; and to retain an interest in the Trust property.
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