Last week I was invited to Cyprus to visit some clients and catch up with some professionals on the island.
One of my clients, who I will call Ivan, owns a substantial Russian company which specialises in precious stones. He has long taken advantage of the beneficial tax treaty between Russia and Cyprus to extract profits from Russia and then to send them on to the BVI.
Sadly for him both Russia and the BVI were closing in on him and he was concerned. As from January this year, Russia expects every company owned by a Cyprus company to have an office in Cyprus. Ivan has therefore taken space in Limassol, an attractive city on the sea and has mapped out a schedule of visits to coincide with board meeting and annual reports. His company had an apartment in Larnaca, but it was too small for his family.
He was also concerned about the sudden change of direction in the BVI. As a British dependent territory the BVI has to keep a register of wealth owners, their interests and details under the common reporting standard (CRS) which it is under pressure from Britain to make available to the public. It would be bad enough to know that his interests in the BVI would be known to Russia, but for it to be made public was a real worry for him.
Ivan invited me to his office to discuss his options. He confided in me that he had recently remarried and had two daughters under five, but was not seeing them as much as he would like. He was also fearful for their safety. A friend of his who I will call Sasha, had his bank account in Liechtenstein hacked and as a result he and his family were blackmailed; the blackmailer knew all his account details, the names of his family and where his daughters went to school. It was unacceptable to him that his daughters could be at risk from crooks for whom the CRS is a license to print money.
We explored a number of options some of which were very attractive. He was eager to pursue the transfer immediately so that he could sleep at night.
We then turned to his desire of wanting to spend more time in Cyprus. I suggested that he buy a really nice holiday home in the luxury resort of Paphos which was only 40 minutes from Limassol by car. He could then bring his family with him when he needed to work for the holding company, and spend with them some quality time together.
Cyprus is a destination of choice for 2.5 million tourists every year, who come to enjoy its clear blue waters, ideal climate and sandy beaches. Ivan and I visited some fabulous new residential homes on the seafront which were designed for luxury family life. Ivan was clearly excited.
I pointed out that with a quality home came the added advantage of an EU passport.
This was clearly of interest. As a frequent flyer to European destinations, Ivan was fed up with queuing for immigration and had frequently been caught short by an out of date visa. Cyprus is not only a member of the EU where there is freedom of movement, but has an extensive list of countries which entitle the passport holders visa free travel. Passports would also be available for his wife and two daughters.
The other advantage was that if ever he felt it necessary to leave Russia in a hurry, he had a safe place to which he could retreat where his daughters could enjoy quality education and health care.
As a Citizen of Europe he and his family would also be entitled to a European Health Insurance Card which provides insurance for emergency medical treatment insurance when visiting other participating countries. The look on Ivan’s face said it all, it was just too good to be true.
I said that I could make all the necessary arrangements for him; relocate his wealth and trust from the BVI, introduce him to people for priority property purchases and obtain for him and his family Cyprus passports.
Last week was the first time I had been to Cyprus, but what struck me, in particular, were the people. They were keen to innovate for the benefit of their clients, eager to work with a sense of urgency and exuded a pride in their ability to provide a quality service.
Cyprus was the perfect location for Ivan and his family, and I suspect it could be the perfect location for many others as the world becomes an ever more hostile place for the UHNW families to live.
If you would like to book a meeting with Caroline or one of her colleagues, for estate planning, privacy planning, dispute resolution, matrimonial concerns, offshore trust review or investment strategy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3740 7423.