The Cayman Islands, whose capital is George Town, Grand Cayman, is today the fifth largest financial center in the world. These Islands are located in the Western part the Caribbean Sea, about 480 miles south of Miami.
As a member of the British Crown Colony, the Cayman Islands has traditionally enjoyed one of the most stable forms of government. Its political structure is led by a British-appointed Governor, who acts as President of an Executive Council and an elected Legislative Assembly. Under the rules of its own Constitution, all legislative acts must be sanctioned by both chambers in order to become law.
The Cayman Islands enjoys a peaceful political and social climate and a high degree of autonomy, both from a legislative and financial point of view. These factors, together with excellent communications and tourist facilities, make the Cayman Islands an attractive and efficient offshore financial center.
As many as 300 banks and trust companies and close to 100,000 companies from five continents are registered in Grand Cayman. There are many reasons why banks, corporations and individuals choose to register their business and invest their wealth in the Cayman Islands. Chief among them is the complete absence of direct taxation on corporations, trusts or individuals, and on estates and inheritances. Furthermore, there are no exchange controls. Modern, computerized facilities allow new companies to be processed for registration within two working days.
Finally, the Cayman Islands laws assure full protection and confidentiality to investors, beneficiaries, shareholders and directors of the corporations registered in the Cayman Islands. The protection of secrecy can only be overruled by the courts when there is well founded suspicion of criminal activities, such as money laundering.
Cayman offers a well-regulated and internationally respected, tax-neutral, offshore business environment. The type of Cayman structure required or best suited for a particular endeavor will depend largely on the type of business and whether it will be conducting its affairs locally or outside of the Cayman Islands. If the business is operating in another country, advice from that country's legal and tax counsel will be of prime importance in understanding the benefits that can be derived from setting up a business in Cayman. A fully operational physical presence with locally based staff, as opposed to a nominal presence through a registered office address, can be an essential component in ensuring compliance with many international and local reporting requirements.