Author Archive

Legal Update: Register of Beneficial Owners

On 13/09/2019 the trial operation of the Central Register of Beneficial Owners was completed and as of 16/09/2019 the application is in operation and companies as well as other entities are now required to submit the requisite information on their beneficial owners.

LEGAL BACKGROUND

Law 4557/2018 regarding the prevention and suppression of legalization of proceeds from criminal activities and financing of terrorism incorporated in the Greek legal system the Directive 2015/849/EU.

Among other things, Law 4557/2018 contains provisions regarding the obligations of legal entities having their registered office in Greece or which exercise an activity which is taxed in Greece to collect and keep certain information regarding the beneficial owners in a Special Register at their registered office and submit this information to the Central Register of Beneficial Owners.

BENEFICIAL OWNER

According to the provisions of the law, the beneficial owner is the natural person or persons, ultimately owning the legal person or legal entity, or which control it as well as the natural person or persons for the account of whom the business activity is being carried.

PROCEDURE:

The submission of the information on the beneficial owner(s) which are required by law to the Central Register is effected by the legal representative of the legal entity through the electronic platform of the General Secretariat of Informational Systems, and shall be linked to the tax registration number of the legal entity.

DEADLINES

The ministerial decision dated 20/06/2019 regarding specific matters concerning the maintaining and procedure for the submission at the Central Register, provides three separate deadlines: 14/10/2019, 01/11/2019 and 29/11/2019, depending on the type of legal entity.

ACCESS TO THE INFORMATION OF THE REGISTER

The competent supervisory authorities (as specified by the ministerial decision) have full and unlimited access to the submitted information.

Other competent authorities and the persons subject to the obligation of notification may have limited access to the information of the Register subject to conditions and solely for the purposes of carrying out their due diligence.

Natural persons have access to certain information only, such as name and surname, nationality and the type and extent of rights held by the beneficial owners.

The access as per above is subject to a public fee and to the registration of the accessing persons details.

PENALTIES

The legal entities which are required by law to submit information on the beneficial owners as per above and which fail to comply with such obligations, are subject to the following penalties:

Administrative fine of 10 000 euros and strict deadline to comply with the above obligations
Impossibility to obtain proof of tax clearance.
Similar obligations are provided in Law 4557/2018 in connection with trusts.

*This publication is intended only to provide general information and does not constitute personal advice. We do not accept or assume any responsibility towards readers of the present document for any loss resulting from acting on the basis of this publication.

FOR ANY ADDITIONAL INFORMATION PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT US

Cyprus Signs a New Tax Treaty with Kazakhstan for the Avoidance of Double Taxation

The Republic of Cyprus has concluded a new Double Tax Treaty with the Republic of Kazakhstan. The treaty was signed on the 15th of May 2019. The actual publication of the treaty in the official Gazette of the Republic of Cyprus took place on the 24th of May 2019.

The new treaty shall enter into force upon both the Republic of Cyprus and The Republic of Kazakhstan exchanging notifications that the formal ratification procedures have been completed. The provisions of the treaty with respect to taxes will have effect on or after 1 January post ratification.

The new treaty is based on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Model Tax Convention framework, and will contribute to the expansion of trade and economic relations between the two countries.

The preamble to the double tax treaty refers to avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

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Christodoulos G. Vassiliades & Co LLC will attend The 4th STEP Europe Conference 2019

Christodoulos G. Vassiliades & Co LLC Representative, Sanela Trzin will attend STEP Europe Conference 2019 which will take place on 27th and 28th of June at Four Seasons Hotel Limassol.

An international panel of speakers, including academics, politicians, private practitioners and people from the business community, will share their views on hot and cross border topics such as: family governance and succession; family mobility; beneficial ownership registers; and taxation of executives, employees, shareholders and private equity managers in relation to remuneration schemes.

Programme focus:

  • Cross-border family succession issues
  • People and families on the move: new residence and citizenship destinations
  • Family governance and succession: towards the new generation
  • Beneficial Ownership Registers under the 4th and 5th AML Directives: an update
  • Taxation on executives, employees, shareholders, private equity managers: phantoms, stock options, bonus, classes of shares
  • Trusts and trust-like arrangements in civil law countries
  • Tax issues to consider in a cross-border divorce
  • Private clients, private choices and public freedoms

Christodoulos G. Vassiliades LLC attended the East Med Maritime Conference in Beirut, Lebanon

Christodoulos G. Vassiliades Law Firm’s Representatives, Sanela Trzin and Stelios Havatzias attended the East Med Maritime Conference which took place between 19th and 20th of June in Beirut, Lebanon.

East Mediterranean is one of the busiest commercial shipping hubs around the world, where the strategic position of this part of Mediterranean Sea grants it the commercial power as well as the continuous investments in shipping and ports. In addition, recent oil and gas infrastructures are all underway to maintain a sustainable intersecting cluster that is approached by major shipping and offshore companies worldwide.

Investing heavily in such infrastructure that improves shipping and trade linking both domestic and international markets is a main strategic plan for the majority of East Med Region Governments, and thus the private sector has a big role to turn those ambitious plans into current daily projects.

East Mediterranean is a vital linking node that is not only serving the Middle East and North Africa Region but also the world economy in addition to the worldwide Silk Road project, which emphasizes past, present, and future expansion plans in ports, container terminals, shipyards, maritime training institutes, and maritime and offshore service facilities.

East Med Maritime Conference EMMC, is the perfect platform that discussed the latest developments in the shipping, maritime, and offshore industries, and provided a premier interdisciplinary forum to the maritime training professionals and community to present the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns, present/future challenges and recommended solutions.

3rd Annual East Mediterranean Superyacht Forum

The 3rd Annual East Mediterranean Superyacht Forum took place on the 30th of May 2019 at Athens Plaza and was once again jointly produced by Quaynote Communications, the specialist conference company and producers of global events such as Opportunities in Superyachts, the annual conference in Malta and others, and Oceda S.A, a new Greece-based yacht services company.

This International Forum, brought together superyacht industry experts from across Europe and further afield such as yacht brokers, marina operators, yacht managers, lawyers, corporate service providers, yacht Associations, yacht captains and owners’ representatives.

The panelists presented their views on matters such as cruising in the Med, chartering, marina facilities, crew needs and education as well as technology on board superyachts, art maintenance on yachts, tax issues and duty free fuel.

A comparison between cruising in West and East Med showed a great number of 304 marinas in the West Med, while only 19 in the East Med, despite the latter being more popular during the summer season due to its natural beauty, green trees and blue waters.

Although West Med has a large number of marinas compared to East Med, there is a shortage of berth availability for superyachts in the summer which is an additional reason for the increased demand of marinas in the East Med.

Greece was found to progressively attract larger and newer superyachts, which is making the country a very popular destination that needs to facilitate the current administrative and bureaucratic procedures which at the moment makes it difficult for captains, owners and ship managers to cope with and causes delays.

The event was followed by a networking dinner at a traditional restaurant at the heart of Athens, Syntagma, where the attendants had the opportunity to enjoy the Greek cuisine and network.

Taxation of Long-Term Leasing of Yachts

In terms of the Guidelines issued by both the Cyprus Tax Department and the Maltese Revenue, the overall VAT liability incurred on the leasing of a yacht can be reduced substantially depending on the extent of the effective use and enjoyment of the yacht within EU territorial waters.

Introduction

In March 2019, on the strength of experience and knowledge acquired in the yachting industry, both the Cyprus Tax Department and the Maltese Revenue, issued a new set of Guidelines on the matter of yacht leasing services. Whilst still based on Article 59a of the EU VAT Directive, the new Guidelines reflect the recent EU VAT developments and practices.

In terms of the new Guidelines, VAT on leases that are deemed to take place in Cyprus or in Malta is calculated on the basis of the yacht’s effective use and enjoyment within EU territorial waters. Effectively, this means that no VAT is chargeable on the portion of the lease attributable to effective use and enjoyment of the yacht outside the EU territorial waters or within international waters. Hence, this supply of services by the lessor, is taxable at the basic VAT rate but only to the extent that the leased yacht is used within the territorial waters of the European Union (EU).

Rationale

The long-term yacht leases (i.e. leases covering more than 90 days’ of continuous possession or use of the yacht) is considered a supply of a service falling within scope of Cyprus or Maltese VAT when the yacht is put at the disposal of the lessee in Cyprus or in Malta, provided that the lessor is established in Cyprus or in Malta. Such rule applies provided that the lease contract does not include an “option to buy” clause and therefore there will be no transfer of ownership as per the lease agreement.

When leases fall within the scope of the Cyprus/Maltese VAT as aforesaid, in terms of the Cyprus/Maltese VAT Law and based on Article 59a of the EU VAT Directive, the Tax Authorities may consider the place of supply of such hiring of a means of transport to be outside Cyprus or Malta if effective use and enjoyment of the services takes place outside EU territorial waters.

LEGAL 500 – 2019 Ranking

Our Law Firm continues strengthening and securing its positions in the international legal rankings directory The Legal 500: Europe, Middle East & Africa.

We are pleased to announce that our Law Firm has once again been named and recommended as the as a TOP-TIER FIRM in Commercial, Corporate and M&A as well as Maritime and Admiralty.

Furthermore, our Law Firm has been recommended in the additional 3 practice areas:

  1. Dispute Resolution
  2. Intellectual Property
  3. Real Estate and Construction

We are proud to announce that our Commercial, Corporate and M&A Department received again Tier 1 recognition. Our firm is noted as one which has “a highly qualified team that finds solutions…has considerable skill in cross-border mergers and acquisitions. Koulla Demetriou is recommended along with the ‘very organised and competent’ Michalis Pittakis. Senior Associate Maria Taki is ‘smart and highly professional.”

Also, our Maritime and Admiralty Department team maintained Tier 1 recognition and has been characterized as“energetic and professional team adopts a very client-oriented approach to matters. The group serves as deputy registrar of the Belize-ship registry in Cyprus and Greece.”

Our Intellectual Property Department team received Tier 3 recognition and has been characterized as one which “gets the job done’ and advises on all forms of registered and unregistered intellectual property rights. Maria Kyriacou is at the helm”.

The Real Estate and Construction Department team received Tier 3 recognition and has been cited as following: “advises wealthy foreign clients on their real estate holdings in Cyprus. Savvas Georgiou and Marianna Pavlides have considerable experience in the space”.

And finally, Dispute Resolution Department team received Tier 4 recognition and was noted as a team which “works together as a cohesive unit to ensure that the client is consistently given the best legal advice. Phivos Zomenis is a key name and Christodoulos Clerides is a master tactician with superb negotiation skills”.

We are also very proud that 8 of our lawyers are recommended for their excellence:

  • In relation to our main area of practice, Commercial, Corporate and M&A, our Deputy Managing Director Koulla Demetriou and Senior Associate Lawyer Maria Taki were recommended.
  • Michalis Pittakis, Head of Corporate Department, was proclaimed as a Legal 500 “Next Generation Lawyer”.
  • For Dispute Resolution Phivos Zomenis is recommended.
  • Christodoulos Clerides is listed in the elite “Leading lawyers” list.
  • In relation to Intellectual Property, Maria Kyriacou is recommended.
  • Finally, in relation to Real Estate and Construction Marianna Pavlides and Savvas Georgiou are recommended.

In light of these achievements we would like to extend our sincere thanks to all our clients, without whom these recognitions would not have been possible.

For a complete view of our profile here.

Legal Update: Extension of Golden Visa Program to New Types of Investments

Law 4605/2019 which was published at the Greek Official Gazette on 01/04/2019, amended the Greek Immigration legislation and more particularly article 16 regarding Residence Permits for Investment Activity and introduced new types of investments (other than investment in real estate properties) qualifying for the “Golden Visa Program”.

According to the amended provisions of article 16:

– Within the framework of an investment scheme, there is no limitation on the number of investors, natural persons from non- EU countries, who may participate in the financing and receive a relevant residence permit, provided that each invests at least the minimum required amount, and

– It is heretofore possible to qualify for a residence permit when the investment is made through the participation of a foreign legal entity. In that case, the amended law provides for the possibility for up to 3 persons (shareholders or officers of the legal entity) to apply, depending on the amount of the investment.

Further to the amendments introduced, it also remains possible, in order to ensure the implementation and operation of the investment scheme, for up to 10 non- EU persons to apply for a residence permit in Greece, such number varying depending on the total amount of the investment.

In addition to the foregoing, new provisions are introduced in the aforementioned paragraph 16, operate an extension of the Golden Visa Program to new types of investments, by including also intangible investments to the investment activities pursuant to which a residence permit may be granted to non- EU citizens.

Such investments may be:

  • the contribution of capital for the acquisition of shares during the increase of share capital or bonds during the issue of bond loans in certain types of companies, for an amount of at least 400 000 euros,
  • the acquisition of Greek Public bonds for an amount of at least 400 000 euros,
  • a long term deposit of an amount of at least 400 000 euros,
  • the acquisition of shares, corporate bonds and bonds of the Greek Government, which are which are inserted to be listed or are listed in regulated markets in Greece, of an amount of at least 800 000 euros,
  • the acquisition of a share in an investment fund established in Greece or abroad, whose object is the investment exclusively in shares, corporate bonds and bonds of the Greek Government, of an amount of at least 400 000 euros.

For the aforementioned investments, the investor may be a natural person or a Greek legal entity wholly owned by the non- EU citizen or a foreign legal entity, in which case a residence permit may be granted to up to 3 persons, shareholders or officers, depending on the amount of the investment.

The non- EU investor meeting all the criteria required by law, must first apply and receive a visa for “investment in securities or bank deposit” and thereafter may apply for a 5- year residence permit for investment in securities or bank deposit, which may be renewed provided that the conditions are still fulfilled.

The aforementioned provisions shall enter into effect 3 months after its publication in the Official Gazette.

For more information please do not hesitate to contact us.


*This publication is intended only to provide general information and does not constitute personal advice. We do not accept or assume any responsibility towards readers of the present document for any loss resulting from acting on the basis of this publication.

Cyprus Tax Facts 2019

This publication provides a brief overview of the Cyprus Tax Legislation effective as at the date of publication. It contains useful information about each particular tax law and it can be used by natural persons and/or legal entities in handling their tax affairs.

It should be clarified however that the tax information provided by this publication is of general nature and therefore it cannot substitute proper professional advice which is always given after serious consideration of the merits of each case.

Cyprus Tax Facts 2019 (EN)

Cyprus Tax Facts 2019 (GR)

Cyprus Tax Facts 2019 (RU)

CYPRUS INVESTMENT PROGRAM: AMENDMENTS TO THE SCHEME

Based on the decision number 81.292, 84.068 and 84.957 dated 13/09/2016, 09/01/2018 and 21/05/2018, the Council of Ministers approved the following amendments to the Scheme, effective as of 13/02/2019:

  1. The investor must make a donation amounting to €75,000 to the “Research Promotion Foundation”. *
  2. The investor must make a donation amounting to €75,000 to the “Cyprus Land Development Corporation”. *
  3. The investor is required to maintain their investment for the period of at least 5 years from the date of naturalisation, previously the investor had to maintain their investment for at least 3 years.
  4. The investor can replace the investment, within the period of 5 years upon prior approval from the Ministry of Finance.
  5. Investment made in the Cyprus shipping industry will be considered as eligible criterion for the Cyprus Investment Program (CIP).
  6. The investor can now also make an investment in Registered Alternative Investments Organizations (UCITS), the UCITS will have the right/option to invest up to € 200,000 in the secondary markets of the Cyprus Stock Exchange.
  7. In case where residential property is acquired, and had already been used for the purposes of the Cyprus Investment Program (CIP), the investment amount increases from €2m to €2.5m. *
  8. The investment in Government bonds has been abolished.
  9. In case the investor invests in real estate development & infrastructure projects, the following documents must be provided to the authorities: *
    i) Planning permit;
    ii) Certificate of Completion, duly executed by the architect of the project;
    iii) In case where the property is under construction, at least 5% of the total value of the property must be blocked via a bank guarantee, the relevant amount will only be released to the Vendor upon completion of the property;
    iv) In case where there is a mortgage on the property to be acquired, a bank waiver letter must be in place.
  10. The applicant must be a holder of a valid Schengen visa.
  11. In the event that the applicant has submitted an application to another Member State for citizenship and the application has been rejected, the investor will not be able to apply for the Cyprus Investment Program.

Note: All remaining terms and conditions to the Program remain the same and a detailed analysis of the updated Program will be provided in our upcoming brochure.

* Changes effective from 15/05/2019

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