Open an Offshore Fund

Updated on Thursday 17th June 2021

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An offshore fund represents a type of investment structure that is incorporated in a jurisdiction with a low level of government interference; typically, this type of fund is registered in an offshore financial center that is seen as a tax haven, due to a set of tax advantages offered to those choosing to invest in the respective location. 
 
One of the best locations for starting an offshore fund is the Cayman Islands, where most of the world’s offshore funds are incorporated. Those interested in opening a hedge fund startup in the Cayman Islands should know that the country attracted approximately 75% of the offshore hedge funds registered at a global level. An offshore fund can be registered as a mutual fund, a hedge fund, or another type of vehicle that is prescribed by the legislation of the offshore jurisdiction
 

Offshore funds – the main characteristics


Foreign investors who want to set up investment funds have numerous jurisdictions they can choose from. These are usually divided into onshore and offshore states. Each country has its own regulations, however, offshores are more flexible in terms of foreign ownership and taxation.

It is important to note that from a legal point of view, there are no special requirements that need to be met upon the establishment of an offshore fund, as it will need:
 
  1. to register a legal entity under which the fund will operate;
  2. to appoint a manager or management company to administer the fund;
  3. to prepare a prospectus that needs to be submitted for approval;
  4. it requires a minimum share capital which depends on the type of fund created;
  5. to obtain authorization from the designated authority.

There are numerous offshore jurisdictions in which investors can set up investment funds, and some of the most famous are Seychelles, Belize, the Cayman Islands, Mauritius, and the British Virgin Islands. However, if you are considering a European state, Cyprus and Malta are among the most suitable for the establishment of such funds. Luxembourg is also one of the most appealing countries worldwide for opening various types of funds.

If you are interested in how to set up an offshore investment fund, we have affiliates in the countries mentioned above who can help you with the incorporation.
 

What are the main types of investment funds that be created in offshore countries?


Investment funds are usually categorized into retail and non-retail funds, depending on the type of subscribers or participants they address. There are also categories of funds dedicated to professional investors, but also to non-professional ones.

The following types of funds can be created in offshore countries:
  • mutual funds which are some of the most secure investment vehicles because of the financial instruments they provide to subscribers;
  • exchange traded funds which are similar to the mutual funds;
  • real estate investment funds available for large investors interested in high value investments;
  • hedge funds which are some of the most common all over the world because of the simple registration requirements.

Another type of offshore fund that can be created is the cryptocurrency hedge fund startup which has gained popularity thanks to the novelty brought by virtual money. However, these also imply more risks compared to traditional ones.

If you want to create an offshore fund and need guidance on the main types available and legislation in the selected jurisdictions, we can put you in contact with our partners for tailored consultancy.
 

How to choose a state to open an offshore fund in


There are several aspects to consider when choosing a country to open any type of fund, from legislation to liability of managers and authorization requirements. However, when it comes to offshore states, taxation plays an important role, as the regulations depend on each country.

Also, the licensing and management requirements should also be carefully weighed when choosing a state to set up an offshore fund in. Because of the similarities between several countries, useful advice is to request information on two or three preferred countries in order to make the selection easier.

For such matters, we have affiliates in several onshore and offshore jurisdictions that can provide relevant information on how to set up a fund, but also on the main laws to abide by once you start operating.
 

The offshore mutual fund – one of the best types of funds


The offshore mutual fund is by far one of the best investment vehicles in the world thanks to the increased exposure it offers and the fact that it can access numerous markets all over the world. They also benefit from lower creation costs, as well as favorable taxation systems thanks to being created as offshore entities.

Such funds can be created by registering partnerships, trusts, or open-ended investment vehicles which are tax efficient. From this point of view, the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands offer many benefits.
 

What is the legislation for funds in the Cayman Islands? 
 

The main rule of law under which investment funds can function in the Cayman Islands is the Mutual Funds Law. Businessmen interested in registering a hedge fund startup in the Cayman Islands should consider that this type of vehicle falls under the scope of the Mutual Funds Law as well, as in this jurisdiction, the vehicle is considered a mutual fund. The Cayman Islands mutual funds are divided as follows: 
 
  • exempt mutual fund – this type of fund may not comply with the requirements of the Mutual Funds Law, provided that certain conditions are met (for example, regarding the number of investors);
  • registered mutual fund – it represents the most common way to start an investment vehicle in the Cayman Islands and in order to register the vehicle, each investor must contribute to the fund’s capital with at least $100,000;
  • administered mutual fund – it is not necessary to subscribe a minimum capital, but the fund must have its place of administration registered in the Cayman Islands and it also needs to obtain a license from the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority;
  • licensed mutual fund – it requires the issuance of a license and it must also have its place of administration in this jurisdiction. 
     

What are the main rules of law for funds in Belize? 
 

Another attractive jurisdiction for investments purposes is Belize, a jurisdiction which is seen as a top offshore center. Offshore funds in Belize are set up as mutual funds and they are incorporated following the provisions prescribed under the Belize Mutual Funds Act 2000. Those who are interested in how to start an investment fund that falls under the scope of this law should know that funds can be recognized under this legislation even if they are already registered in another country. 
 
This also applies to the fund’s managers and fund’s administrators who are working from another country, but it can also apply to other related professionals. When opening an offshore fund in Belize, such vehicles will be regulated by the Belize International Financial Services Commission
 
The Belize Mutual Funds Act 2000 prescribes three main categories of funds, which can be registered as public funds, private funds or professional funds. In the case of a public fund, the investors are allowed to offer the fund’s shares to the general public, but it is necessary to know that the vehicle has the highest level of regulation. Contrary to this, a private fund is defined by the fact that its investors can’t offer the fund’s shares to the general public, and at the same time, the vehicle must have a maximum of 50 investors.  
 
According to the legislation available in Belize, the investors can enjoy a very favorable tax regime, in the sense that they can benefit from numerous tax exemptions. For example, the fund can be exempted from the payment of the tax on capital gains, dividends or profits. The fund’s managers, administrators or advisors can also be exempted from the payment of several taxes which are typically imposed on the fees they request. The tax exemption can also be applied to the profits obtained by the fund’s administrators.  
 

What types of funds are available in Seychelles? 
 

Offshore funds that can be set up in Seychelles are divided based on the same criteria that are applicable in Belize, meaning that they can be registered as private funds, professional funds and public funds. These types of vehicles need to be licensed. However, foreign investors who want to know how to start a fund in Seychelles may also register exempt foreign funds, which are defined as vehicles that have already been licensed in a recognized jurisdiction. 
 

Investment funds statistics all over the world


Investment funds remain some of the more powerful financial tools, and recent statistics provided by Globe News Wire magazine presents the following information for the end of 2020:
 
  • mutual funds had assets worth 1.78 trillion USD;
  • their net sales rose to 7.3 billion USD in the last month of 2020;
  • they were followed by exchange traded funds with assets valued at 257.3 billion USD;
  • their net sales were 3.9 billion USD in December 2020.

 
Thus, the fund can be exempt from obtaining a license from the Financial Services Authority, but this can apply in specific situations, which can be detailed by our team of partners in Seychelles. For more information concerning the registration of a fund in one of these top offshore countries, as well as for advice on the legislation regulating the incorporation of an offshore fund in other top jurisdictions, we invite you to address to our team of affiliates