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Personal Bank Accounts


Waterfront, Hamilton, Bermuda

When you come to ORCA to set up your offshore bank facilities or to form a company you will find that, unlike other companies we do not just charge our fee and then direct you to a baffling series of links or just send you a pile of forms to wade through. Unfortunately many companies tend to do this and frankly it is a pointless way try and set up an account or a company. The reason for this is that, if you are directed to a series of forms but not provided with the correct advice to enable them to be correctly completed the whole application process becomes extremely stressful and often ends up with the account being declined by the bank. Our goal is to provide you with help and guidance from the point where you receive the forms to the stage at which the bank confirms that the account is open. This process will minimize the risk of you encountering the problems which can frequently arise when someone is not provided with the appropriate advice by the offshore agent that should have been made available from the outset.

The following are examples of a few problems which some people came to us about and asked if we could take over and get them up and running.

Mrs. N went to a company she found on the web intending to set up an account in Italy. She registered the account to a UK address not realizing that the Italian Tax Authorities report accounts held by UK residents to the UK tax collector, HMRC! Had she opened the account and given the address of her home in Florida this would not have arisen because there is no automatic exchange between Italy and the USA. The problem was she did not speak to anyone and was simply pointed to some forms to complete online with instructions to fill them in, print them off and send them direct to the bank.

Mr. and Mrs. S, who are living in South Africa, were buying a second home on a golf course in Faro, Portugal and went to a so called banking expert in the Isle of Man. Following a discussion with him they decided that, to avoid local tax and currency hassles in South Africa, they would register the account - which was being set up in Portugal - to their second home in Ireland. This seemed an option on the surface but the reality was that the South African tax collector would never have received information from the Portuguese bank whereas there is automatic exchange of details between Portugal and Ireland under the EU savings tax directive.

Mr. D went to a firm in London who advised him that, if he needed an account for British clients to credit cash at a High Street bank in the UK a Gibraltar account would work. Mr. D settled on Barclays because they have a branch on Main St in Gibraltar. Mr. D paid £350 to the firm to get the account set up. What they failed to tell him was that Barclays will accept UK cheques at any UK Barclays for credit to a Barclays Gibraltar account but, if his clients wanted to pay with cash, they would not accept it as cash credits via the UK to Gibraltar are not permitted by the Gibraltar Government so this made the account totally pointless.

Mr. C and Mr. L from Berlin used a firm on the web to open a US bank account to receive funds from PayPal. The account was opened and cost them $300 in fees but what they were not told or made aware of until the account was opened was that it was solely a USD account with no options to hold a Euro balance. The end result was that they received around EUR 8000 per month via PayPal which had to be switched to USD before they drew it out at an ATM in Berlin where it was switched back to Euro’s! This meant two avoidable currency switches arose with all the conversion fees that involves. It was madness but nobody at the firm in the US considered that they might need a joint foreign currency account which is not available in the US.

The above are just four examples. Fortunately, we found alternative solutions that put these people back on the right track and sorted everything out. Regardless, these examples indicate that it is an absolute minefield trying to get it right because you can sometimes phone five firms who will give five different solutions, in some cases, they do not have a clue what they are doing. We favor a hands-on approach where we speak to you about your specific circumstances and needs before we actually do anything. Once we work out the options between us, you complete the forms for the chosen bank and we then arrange for a banker who spends 28 years with Deutsche Bank to check them prior to submitting them to the bank. The golden rule here is to keep in mind that the banking arrangements needs to be 100% right because offshore banking and card facilities are central to all tax efficient trading, savings or investment structures. Of course, the type of financial arrangements currently available can range from a simple account with a debit or ATM card right up to a comprehensive banking solution involving multiple currencies and a whole variety of sub accounts with various credit and debit cards.

In essence the key to getting it right lies in determining exactly what is needed to achieve the optimum results. Matching our clients to the right account is our area of expertise; normally a quick conversation on the phone or an exchange of emails enables us to pretty much define the ideal solution for your particular circumstances. After all, there is little point in going through all the hassle and expense of arranging a high maintenance structure involving credit card facilities and bank accounts when a simple account to receive funds which is, in turn, linked to an international debit card and perhaps a PayPal account (see www.paypal.com) will meet all your day to day needs. An additional point which should be considered at this time is that, the more complex the arrangements are, the more expensive and time consuming they will be to set up. For example, to set up a straightforward account and debit card we need only one piece of ID, to set up most bank accounts we require notarized or certified passport copies, utility bills and often bank references.

This section provides details of our most popular tried and tested accounts which we arrange on a daily basis although, after nearly 30 years in the business, we have so many bank contacts that this selection is, in reality, only a small cross section of what we can provide. If you do not see anything here which is ideal for your personal needs, contact us because we provide numerous bespoke solutions tailored to meet your exact requirements. Our primary aim is to offer our clients a comprehensive range of banking facilities. These facilities include offshore personal and corporate accounts, high yield savings accounts, ATM and debit card based accounts and confidential numbered accounts. The requirements for passport copies and other ID documents when opening accounts can be a concern to individuals and corporations wishing to retain a low profile in these days of continual snooping. It is important to keep in mind that, regardless of the pressures from the OECD and the EU, bank secrecy still exists in many reputable jurisdictions such as Austria, Luxembourg or Switzerland. Other banking centers such as Panama, Nevis or Cyprus also maintain high levels of discretion. The main ingredient is ensuring that everything is properly put together and we avoid problems manifesting themselves at a later stage. Whilst the proceeds of crime are obviously best kept out of the banking system some countries have become so obsessed with money laundering and dirty money that things have gone well beyond what is needed to keep things clean without going totally overboard. In the UK for example bank employees are now effectively government informers under threat of draconian penalties for failure to inform the government of even trivial irregularities. This is the opposite of many offshore jurisdictions which impose heavy fines and prison sentences on bank employees who breach the privacy of account holders.

Although most clients will not have a problem with banks ID requirements, if you have particular worries let us know, we are here to assist you. We can generally deal with most ID problems that arise as various alternatives exist. For example, some banks insist on a passport but if you do not have a passport they will often accept a certified driver’s license copy. The key to successful offshore banking lies in selecting the correct location to fit you requirements. An illustration of this is that, whilst the Channel Islands are clearly not ideal for UK residents, they are OK for Canadians; the Bahamas are not good for an American but generally fine if you are European, and so on. What we have endeavored to achieve here is to offer a selection of options that offer the most flexible range of facilities to meet our clients' banking needs.

ANDORRA

The bank offers a whole range of sophisticated investment services and all accounts are multicurrency with 30 currency options. Numbered accounts are also available. With a numbered account we recommend you have a numbered account and a standard account at the bank. The way it works is you move money from the standard account to the numbered account either by speaking to your personal banking or actioning the transfer at the counter if you are physically in Andorra. The transaction will show on you regular statement as a cash deposit or withdrawal with no indication of where it actually went. Whilst there is no formal minimum balance you would not really be able to benefit from the vast range of services unless you deposit at least $100,000 so this is in reality a high end bank. To open an account requires a visit to a branch in Andorra Panama where they have additional offices.

Our Fee to arrange the account and the appointment with the bank: $495 / £295 


ANTIQUA

The bank we deal with in Antiqua is well established Caribbean owned and operated international bank and offers a wide range of services and products that are flexible in catering to the needs of its customers for secure investment and convenient access to their funds. The bank offer a very personal service and is extremely efficient in meeting clients requirements for both private banking (low minimum deposit of $5000) and corporate banking. It was the first Bank to be licensed in Antigua and Barbuda under its International Business Corporations Act, 1982, and has the distinction of being the grandfather of international financial services operating in the jurisdiction's Financial Centre.

Our Fee to arrange the account is: $595 / £350 


BARBADOS

The bank we recommend in Barbados is a large regional bank with offices in a number of Caribbean finance centers although some are British Overseas Territories which has potential disadvantages whereas Barbados is an independent nation and one of the best governed and most stable countries in the Caribbean. The bank itself has assets of $11.5 billion and is jointly owned by two leading British and Canadian banks. They can arrange corporate accounts, personal accounts and offer accounts in all major currencies. As you would expect with subsidiaries of major UK and Canadian banks the card services and internet banking are second to none.

Our Fee to arrange the account is: $495 / £295 


CAYMAN ISLANDS

This small private bank which is ideal for long term deposits and as a safe repository for funds in a well regulated jurisdiction. They do not provide internet banking or cards but interest rates are favourable and they provide a very personalized service for clients who do not need need to move funds frequently to and from an account. One big plus is that unlike Swiss banks there are no fees in respect of managing the account and the minimum opening deposit is $5000 or equivalent. Accounts can be opened in EUR / GBP / USD / CAD

Our Fee to arrange the account: $495 / £295 


CURACAO

This bank based in the Dutch Antilles island of Curaçao offer both personal and corporate accounts. The opening procedure are quite straightforward and the bank does not require a personal visit. We have found the bank offers a very personalized service and swift account opening process for clients corporate and personal banking needs.

International Payment Services
Checking & Savings accounts (USD & EUR)
Long-term deposits (USD & EUR)
Secured online banking
Credit facilities including Back-to-Back letters of credit
Investment & Treasury products
Credit cards & Pre-paid cards

Our Fee to arrange the account is: $595 / £350 


CYPRUS

In spite of the problems in Cyprus this bank came out unscathed and the clients did not lose money. The bank is also 100% privately owned and has no foreign capital. The bank also has branches in Tanzania which can be managed by the Cyprus branch which offers a potential solution to the savings tax directive. The bank is first rate for both corporate and private accounts and offers comprehensive internet banking and a wide variety of credit and debit cards.

Our Fee to arrange the account: $495 / £295 


ISLE OF MAN

The bank is part of a large South African banking group. The account is available in Sterling, US Dollar, Australian Dollars and Euro’s. The minimum balance just £4,000, US$6,000, AU$6,000 or €6,000 the biggest plus is that there is no maintenance fee whilst the minimum balance is maintained.

Other benefits include:
Facility to set up standing orders and direct debits for accounts denominated in Sterling
Simple to open and operate internationally
Visa debit card
Available in four currencies (GBP, US$, AU$, €)
International internet banking

Our Fee to arrange the account is: $595 / £350 


LATVIA

In Latvia we deal with one full service bank which offers extensive corporate and personal banking along with multi-currency facilities. We also deal with a Latvian postal bank which is privately owned and provides extensive international facilities. In the case of the Postal bank the account can be opened remotely but the full service bank requires a visit although its frequently possible to arrange a meeting with one of the banks agents in several other locations.

Our Fee to arrange the account: $495 / £295 


LUXEMBOURG

Luxembourg banks are generally fairly awkward to deal with and usually require both personal visits to setup the account and large opening deposits, they also tend to have high management and maintenance fees and often won’t open accounts for offshore companies and when they do ask for vast amounts of information and details of the businesses trading history. Most of these hassles can be side stepped because we have located a bank where everything can be done by mail, the fees and opening deposit are and even US citizens and offshore companies are accepted so this bank is ideal for business accounts as well as personal banking.

We are unsure if this bank will continue to offer these great deals to new accounts holders but if you open an account now you will reap the benefits.

Our Fee to arrange the account: $850 / £495 


MAURITIUS

This bank offers a very personalised service and is owned by a consortium of local Mauritian, Singapore and South African owners. With the banking representative offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg, the Bank has cross-border capabilities to deliver tailor-made solutions with tangible benefits to clients operating in Africa.

The bank offer a variety of personal and corporate accounts as well as accounts for Trusts and Foundations and is ideal as a low profile but stable and reliable banking jurisdiction. There are various currency options including ZAR but the primary account currencies are USD/EUR/GBP.

Our Fee to arrange the account: $495 / £295 


NEVIS

Nevis is viewed by asset protection lawyers as one of the strongest asset protection jurisdictions in the world. This bank is rock solid and ideal for use in combination with a Nevis Trust or Corporation.

Our Fee to arrange the account: $495 / £295 


PANAMA

We work with several Panamanian banks none of which have any foreign ownership. Panama is generally quite awkward to deal with and usually requires a visit but the banks themselves are first class and the confidentiality is excellent. In the case of two banks we deal with it is still possible to arrange a personal or corporate account without the need to visit.

Our Fee to arrange the account: $495 / £295 


SINGAPORE

This account is arranged with one of South East Asia’s largest banks which was established over a hundred years ago and has 500 brances in 16 countries. There are a variety of account options from Private Banking facilities (opening balance $125,000 / €90,000) to regular bank accounts both personal and corporate which require an opening balance of $10,000 / €7300. In respect of corporate accounts for IBC’s, LLC’s etc we can generally arrange the account without a visit but personal accounts require a visit regardless because the bank need to photocopy your passport etc at the meeting.

Our Fee to arrange the account: Varies depending on what is needed. Please contact us to discuss the details.

Our Fee to arrange the account: $850 / £495 


ST LUCIA

St Lucia is becoming a popular caribbean banking center and we have contacts with several banks to arrange corporate and personal accounts. One big plus in St Lucia is that the banks have first rate internet banking and all offer multi currency facilities.

Our Fee to arrange the account: $495 / £295 


ST VINCENT

We deal with two banks in St Vincent and both are quite different in what they offer. One bank is first rate for corporate accounts offering you the opportunity to bank in USD, EUR, GBP, CHF, JPY, AUD, CAD. and the other is ideal for online traders and currency traders. If you are looking to bank in the Caribbean St Vincent is an excellent choice.
Our Fee to arrange the account: $495 / £295 


SWITZERLAND

We work with a large number of Swiss banks but most insist on high opening balances although several first rate banks do not insist on high balances and will accept €3700 of CHF4500 as a minimum balance, in several cases it is also possible to open the account without the need to visit the bank with the face to face interview via Skype or Videoconference. All the Swiss accounts we deal with are multicurrency. Other advantages of many Swiss banks are facilities such as safe deposit boxes and numbered accounts.

Please Note: The Swiss Banks we deal with will not accept US entities or Citizens.

Our Fee to arrange the account: $850 / £495 


ALTERNATIVES TO CONVENTIONAL BANK ACCOUNTS

Some banking options such as treasury accounts, broking accounts and currency exchange services offer a viable alternative to a conventional bank for those looking to operate in a variety of currencies and the accounts work well for both personal and corporate accounts. One of the vital considerations is that they are frequently much simpler and faster to setup.

As far as the option of using currency exchange services a big plus is that the banks are removed from most of the transaction meaning rates are superior and in my experience transfer fees are often over 80% less plus the currency rates are superior as well. There are around a dozen services which offer the required facilities and which will work best for you will hinge on where you reside and the currencies you use plus the specific requirements. But as an example one of the European facilities which is a first class alternative to your traditional business banking account is specifically designed to help your business unify its facilities for card payment and banking to manage its funds and make low cost bank payments.

The account operates exactly the same as a regular account with an account number and SWIFT and IBAN number, enabling you to receive bank payments directly into your account. The account also provides a Visa Card, enabling your business to load funds onto the prepaid card and for your staff members to make payments globally via the Visa network. This account is available in 14 currencies including: GBP, USD and EUR all at no extra setup cost so its incredibly flexible and cheap to operate compared to many alternatives. Keep in mind that these banking options are also fully regulated so they are not a financially risky alternative. As far as location we can arrange a variety of accounts in Panama, the UK, Gibraltar, Belize and a few other locations. One plus with some of these facilities is that they will open accounts for Americans although this is handled very discreetly and not promoted openly.

If you are interested in an an alternative to a conventional account please contact us and we can advise.

UK / Ireland020 7175 0041
(International +44 20 7175 0041)
US / Canada1 954 866 5986
(INTERNATIONAL +1 954 866 5986)
Australia and New Zealand+61 2 9191 7472
(INTERNATIONAL +61 2 9191 7472)
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