Offshore jurisdictions provide for an efficient and business friendly environment to incorporate international business companies. Countries all around the world try to protect their local market from unfair competition. Offshore companies often qualify as the best of both worlds, low required shareholder equity and thus limited liability for a legal person that separates the ownership from the company. Market entry can therefore be restricted.
Local residents willing to incorporate offshore must consider their local tax rules for international holdings. A growing number of countries include offshore ownership in personal income tax for locals. In these jurisdictions, the mandatory personal tax returns require the taxpayer to declare offshore holdings, beneficial ownership, and other segregated private property and assets. It must be emphasized that failure to declare hidden assets and intentional concealment of international holdings is a criminal offense.
For natural persons, the risk of transacting with an offshore company is equally hazardous as transacting with any other foreign company in a common law jurisdictions. However, not to underestimated and increased risk exists in offshore companies with nominee shareholders and directors.
Offshore companies may be used directly or indirectly for illicit conduct. Special purpose vehicles can receive the proceeds of illegal activities and funnel these into the pockets of the individuals running the scheme. Global fund recovery of these assets is difficult due to the involvement of different legal systems.