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RAK Offshore to double its companies

RAK Offshore expects more than 2,000 companies to register this year. (EB FILE)

By Karen Remo-Listana

RAK Offshore will double the number of offshore companies registered with it during this year, a top official from the company said.

RAK Offshore, a subsidiary of Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority, which allows any non-resident individual or "moral" entity to open a company registered within the RAK Free Zone, expects the number of companies to be beefed up to more than 4,000 in 2009.

According to Peter-Michael Schuster, General Manager, RAK Offshore, the number of companies jumped by six-fold from 300 in 2007 to 1,750 in 2008. The company is optimistic it will see another 100 per cent increase in the number of registration and a 70-per cent increase on profits this year. "We expect more than 2,000 companies to register with us this year. So far, in the first two months of this year, 150 have registered. It is a little bit slow because it's the beginning of 2009 and companies are just closing their balance sheets," Schuster told Emirates Business.

He said more European entities, which comprise the lion's share of the registered companies, are more enticed these days to opt for RAK Offshore as an alternative.

"The Euro zone and the British offshore jurisdictions are more linked to the European Union. A lot of our clients are looking for alternatives – places which are not linked to Europe. And Ras Al Khaimah, like Europe, is a stable place, so people want to go here," he said.

He also contributed the increased investors appetite to their "competitive prices" and "fast procedures".

RAK Offshore, which promises one-day acquisition time, charges only $950 (Dh3,489) for incorporation costs whereas other offshore centres charge up to $5,000 and discriminate according to capital. Annual charge is $680 regardless of capital and type, which is 40 per cent less expensive than major Carribean centres.

International business companies (IBCs) in RAK Offshore can also own real estate in some designated free zones.

"We are the only international offshore centre to offer such service for non-resident companies. In general, we allow RAK freehold companies to be registered, but at times we allow Dubai freehold property to be registered, too," Schuster said.

Asked on how secure the regulation is against money-laundering, he said: "I have been a compliance officer in Russia for 10 years – there are so much money there and I am experienced in anti-money laundering. I know instruments that address that. I don't want to be black-listed by not imposing anti-money laundering laws."

He said RAK Offshore is also being regulated by the British Virgin Islands (BVI) Financial Services Commission, thereby ensuring all firms and individuals authorised to provide financial services in and from within the BVI are competent and financially sound. BVI also monitors and detect financial crime and assist in the prosecution of such crime.

Schuster added that RAK Offshore, together with Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority and Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Authority, is currently promoting Ras Al Khaimah as a new commercial and tourism hub through a number of road shows in Western and Eastern Europe, India and Korea, among others.

Currently there are three offshore facilities in the UAE – Jebel Ali Offshore Centre established by Dubai in 2003; the International Companies Registry in the Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone established in 2006 and the RAK Offshore established in 2007.