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Company and Jurisdictions

Samoa

International Company (IC)

Legislation: Standard capital:
International Companies Act 1987. The incorporation fees are fixed irrespective of authorised share capital.
Annual government fees: Corporate Taxation:
USD 300 for 1 year; USD 1,000 for 5 years; USD 1,500 for 10 years; and USD 2,000 for 20 years. Zero
Time to incorporate: Ready-made companies:
24 hours Yes.
Minimum members: Registered office required:
One, individual or corporate. Yes, must be maintained in Samoa at the address of a licensed management company or law firm.
Local registered agent: Minimum number directors:
Yes. One, individual or corporate. A register of directors must be filed with the Registrar and is open to public inspection.
Officer to be locally resident: AGM required:
A local secretary is necessary. No.
Annual return required: Financial statements to be prepared and/or audited:
No. Company is required to keep financial records reflecting financial position of the company. Audit not required.
Balance sheets to be filed: Share register required:
No. Yes, at registered office
To be filed with Registrar: Open to public inspection:
No. No, but open to other members
Exchange controls: Redomiciliation permitted:
No. Yes, in and out.
Language of incorporation: Confidentiality:
English. No specific statutory provisions governing confidentiality in relation to companies, but English law, which applies within the jurisdiction imposes a common law duty on professionals to keep the affairs of their clients confidential.
Bearer shares permitted:  
No

 


Advantages

Disadvantages


  • User-friendly legislation.
  • As Samoa is across the international dateline, incorporation can be achieved yesterday.
  • Almost total lack of professional services.

International Agreements

OECD Harmful Tax Practices

Samoa was among 35 jurisdictions identified by the OECD in June 2000 as meeting the technical criteria for being a tax haven. On 9 April 2002, The Samoan government signed a commitment to improve the transparency of its tax and regulatory systems and establish effective exchange of information for tax matters with OECD countries by 31 December 2005.

Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA)

None.

EU Savings Tax Directive

Not applicable.

Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

Samoa ’s regulatory regime was reviewed by the FATF in 2000. It was found to have a “comprehensive” anti-money-laundering system and was not therefore identified by the FATF in June 2000 as a non-cooperative country or territory (NCCT) in the fight against money laundering.

Samoa is a member of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering and the Pacific Island Forum. Samoa hosted the annual plenary of the Pacific Island Forum in August 2004.

Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs)

International cooperation can occur only if Samoa has entered into a mutual cooperation agreement with the requesting nation. Under the Act, the MLPA has no powers to exchange information with overseas counterparts. All cooperation under the MLPA is through the Attorney General’s Office, which is the Competent Authority under the Act for receiving and implementing.

Samoa has not signed the 1988 UN Drug Convention. Nor has it signed the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

Tax Treaties

None.


General Info

Full Country Name: The Independent State of Samoa
Area:

2,850 sq km (1,770 sq mi)

Population:

177,287 (July 2005 est.)

Capital City:

Apia

Nationality: Samoan
People: Samoan 92.6%, Euronesians 7% (persons of European and Polynesian blood), and Europeans 0.4%
Languages: Samoan (Polynesian), English
Currency: Tala (SAT) – SAT 2.9732 per USD (2004)
Government: Mix of parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy
Legal system: Based on English common law and local customs; judicial review of legislative acts with respect to fundamental rights of the citizen; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Head of State: Chief Tanumafili II Malietoa GCMG, CBE

Geography

A group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, Samoa (formerly known as Western Samoa) consists of two large islands, Upolu and Savai'i, and several small ones. It is a separate jurisdiction from the US-administered American Samoa. It has a tropical climate with a rainy season from November to April. The population of around 175,000 is 77% rural, 23% urban. Samoa has a relatively young population with about 40% under 15 years of age and 18% aged 15-24. Samoans are mostly Polynesians and speak Samoan and English.


History

Samoa became a German colony in 1899 after a series of disputes between the UK, the USA and Germany. New Zealand assumed control of Samoa following the outbreak of the First World War and the islands became a mandated territory of New Zealand under a League of Nations mandate. Between the wars there was a considerable agitation for the removal of foreign control over Samoan affairs. After the Second World War Samoa was administered by New Zealand as a UN trust territory and measures were gradually introduced to prepare the islands for self-government.

Samoa became the first South Pacific Island country to gain independence, on 1 January 1962. In 1997 Samoa changed its formal name from the Independent State of Western Samoa to the Independent State of Samoa.


Government and Politics

Executive branch
Head of State: Chief Tanumafili II MALIETOA (co-chief of state from 1 January 1962 until becoming sole chief of state 5 April 1963)
Head of Government: Prime Minister Sailele Malielegaoi TUILA'EPA (since 1996); note - Tuila'epa served as deputy prime minister from 1992 and assumed the duties of acting prime minister in 1996, when former Prime Minister TOFILAU Eti Alesana resigned in poor health; Tuila'epa was confirmed as prime minister (November 1998) after Tofilau died; Deputy Prime Minister MISA Telefoni (since 2001)
Cabinet: Consists of 12 members, appointed by the head of state on the prime minister's advice
Elections: Upon the death of Chief Tanumafili II Malietoa a new head of state will be elected by the Legislative Assembly to serve a five-year term; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party is usually appointed prime minister by the head of state with the approval of the Legislative Assembly
Legislative branch

Unicameral Legislative Assembly or Fono (49 seats – 47 elected by voters affiliated with traditional village-based electoral districts, two elected by independent, mostly non-Samoan or part-Samoan, voters who cannot, (or choose not to) establish a village affiliation; only chiefs (matai) may stand for election to the Fono from the 47 village-based electorates; members serve five-year terms).

Elections: election last held 3 March 2001 (next election to be held not later than March 2006)

Election results: seats by party - HRPP 30, SNDP 13, independents 6

Judicial branch

Court of Appeal; Supreme Court; District Court; Land and Titles Court

Political parties and leaders

Human Rights Protection Party or HRPP (Sailele Malielegaoi Tuila'epa, chairman); Samoan Democratic United Party or SDUP (LE MAMEA Ropati, chairman) (opposition); Samoa National Development Party or SNDP.

Samoa is a Constitutional Monarchy with a UK-style cabinet government. The Prime Minister heads the government and selects 12 ministers to form a cabinet: its decisions can be reviewed by the Executive Council, which consists of the cabinet and the head of state, who has to approve all laws.

Tuilaepa became Prime Minister in 1988 following the retirement of his predecessor Tofilau Eti Alesana due to illness. Tuilaepa has been the driving force behind many of the radical liberal economic reforms that have occurred over the past decade.


Economy

Basis economic facts

GDP (2002): US$1 billion

Growth rate (2002): 5%

Per capita GDP (2002): USD 5,600

Main industries: Tourism, fishing

Samoa's economy is dependent on foreign aid, family remittances from overseas and agriculture. Foreign aid accounted for around 10% of GDP (2000 est) while remittances made up an estimated 20% of GDP (2003). The agricultural sector absorbs around two thirds of the labour force, and makes up around 90% of all exports. Samoa’s export base is limited with fish accounting for half of all exports, with the remainder mostly coconut and derived products. Tourism is an expanding sector, accounting for 25% of GDP.

Samoa is an offshore financial centre, with eight offshore banks licensed. For entities registered or licensed under the offshore legislation, there are no currency or exchange controls or regulations, and no foreign exchange levies payable on foreign currency transactions. No income tax or other duties, nor any other direct or indirect tax or stamp duty is payable by registered/licensed entities. In addition to the eight offshore banks, Samoa currently has 13,465 international business corporations (IBCs), three international insurance companies, six trustee companies, and 175 international trusts. Section 16 of the Offshore Banking Act stipulates prohibition for any person from applying to be a director, manager, or officer of an offshore bank who has been sentenced for an offence involving dishonesty. The prohibition is also reflected in the application forms and personal questionnaire that must be completed by prospective applicants that detail the licensing requirements for offshore banks. The application forms list the required supporting documentation for proposed directors of a bank. These include references from a lawyer, accountant, and a bank, police clearances, curriculum vitae, certified copies of passports and personal statements of assets and liabilities (if also a beneficial owner). The Inspector of Offshore Banks must be satisfied with all supporting documentation that a proposed director is fit and proper in terms of his integrity, competence and solvency.

The Central Bank of Samoa, the Office of the Registrar of International and Foreign Companies, and the MLPA regulate the financial system. There are four locally incorporated commercial banks, supervised by the Central Bank. The Office of the Registrar of International and Foreign Companies has responsibility for regulation and administration of the offshore sector.

Since the passage of the Money Laundering Prevention Act in June 2000, Samoa has continued to strengthen its anti-money laundering regime and has issued regulations and guidelines to financial institutions so that they have a clear understanding of their obligations under the Act. Particular emphasis is directed toward regulation of the offshore financial sector, principally the establishment of due diligence procedures for owners and directors of banks and the elimination of anonymous accounts for onshore and offshore banks. The government is strengthening relevant legislation to identify the beneficial owners of IBCs to help ensure that criminals do not use them for money laundering or other financial crimes. Samoa is in the process of adopting amended and additional legislation to allow for international cooperation and information sharing.

International Relations

Samoa is officially designated as a Least Developed Country. Samoa is a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the ACP grouping, which allows it access to European Union development funding. Samoa is an active member of the Pacific Islands Forum, which Prime Minister Tuilaepa currently chairs. It has observer status in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).





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