What’s better? A Cook Islands LLC or a Nevis LLC? We’ve been setting up companies in Nevis since 1994. We have set up more Nevis companies than anyone in the world. Similarly, we’ve been setting up companies in the Cook Islands since 1996. We have set up more trusts in the Cook Islands than anyone in the world and hundreds or thousands of companies.
Some would say that makes us experts on the topic and qualified to write this article comparing Cook Islands LLCs and Nevis LLCs.
We’ve long been advocates of Nevis LLCs for asset protection and financial privacy. However, recent events have changed our minds and swayed us to the Cook Islands.
10 Reasons We Like Cook Islands LLCs
1. Modern technology.
The Cook Islands government has made strides into the future in terms of digital onboarding. In other words, offshore companies require you to provide know-your-client documents in order to prevent money laundering. This may include a notarized copy of ID, utility bill, reference letter, etc. In the Cook Islands, all you need to do is upload these documents to an online portal and BOOM, you’re good to go. Nevis still resorts to paper documents and no upload portal.
2. Faster setup.
In the old days we could set up a Nevis LLCs in two to three days or so. Lately, however, the regulations have become onerous. Thus, it’s been taking two to three months to set up a Nevis LLC. As long as you provide the proper documents quickly, we can typically set up a Cook Islands LLC within days, not weeks or months.
3. Barriers to Litigation.
Now, the Cook Islands does not currently have a $100k or so bond creditors must post before bringing filing a lawsuit to collect a judgment against a member of an LLC. A Nevis LLC does. But people bringing litigation into the Cook Islands must post attorneys fees to cover any litigation. This can sometimes be well over $100,000. So, this puts the two on almost a level playing field.
4. Faster service.
Let’s say down the road, the bank needs an official document from your LLC to setup a bank account. Many of our clients have Cook Islands trusts that own LLCs. When you have a Cook Islands trust that owns a Cook Islands LLC you get best asset protection in the world. Plus, it is easier for our trustee company to keep you in legal compliance. That is, the trustee company can order the required certificates themselves. They don’t have to wait for someone from Nevis to send them the required documents.
For example, let’s say we are helping you open or change bank account. The bank will need a certificate of incumbency. This document shows the bank who has the right to open bank accounts on behalf of your LLC. Your trustee can make such a certificate in-house the same day, for much lower cost instead of waiting weeks for Nevis provide the documents.
5. Protector services.
A protector is a position within the trust that can do things like quickly changing the trustee from the Cook Islands to a number of other jurisdictions. This comes in handy should someone file a legal threat against you or your trust in the Cook Islands. (By the way, this is very rare. We’ve never seen it with any of our clients.) Let’s say someone files a Mareva Injunction against your trust in the Cook Islands. This is like a temporary restraining order. It temporally ties your trustee company’s hands from moving trust assets during litigation. With the protector service, we could easily turn your Cook Islands trust (that owns the Cook Islands LLC) into a Nevis or Belize trust, for example. As such, we bypass the freezing order.
6. Harder to sue you (or your Cook Islands LLC).
Most US litigants could stomach a trip to Nevis as it’s physically much closer to the USA. We’ve been to Nevis, down in the Caribbean, many times. We can fly to St. Kitts Nevis in about three hours. However, a trip to the Cook Islands is brutal. From where our CEO lives in Florida, a trip to the Cook Island’s it’s about 25 to 58 hours long depending on the flight we choose.
7. Difficult for your opponent to hire an attorney.
Your opponent must usually hire a specialized attorney from New Zealand or Australia. They, in turn, must to fly to the Cook Islands to participate in litigation. Some hearings are conducted by Zoom. But some need to be done in person. The problem for your opponent is that many times attorneys are conflicted out of any litigation. This is because of their relationship with the trustees in the Cook Islands. That is, if your trustee company already has a relationship with an attorney, your opponent cannot hire them.
However, you would usually have no problem hiring those same attorneys to represent you and your Cook Islands LLC and/or trust. Why? Because you and the trustee company are on the same side. So, the best attorneys in the Cook Islands are often not ethically available for your opponent to hire. This is a crazy fight for litigants. It is a big chore for them to find proper legal representation
8. Less work for the client.
Suppose you set up a Cook Islands Trust and Cook Islands LLC. When you do, you can use the same know-your-client documents. That is, you can use the same set of due diligence that you use to to set up your trust to set up your LLC.
The Cook Islands is part of New Zealand. Transparency International publishes the Global Corruption Perceptions Index each year. This report rates the most trusted countries in the world. Out of 195 countries worldwide, New Zealand has held the #1 and #2 spots more than any country in the world. Thus, trustworthiness provides another reason for forming a Cook Islands LLC.
10. Strong regulation.
Cook Islands is subject to more regulatory audits than just about any asset protection jurisdiction. That is, the government steps in and audits the trustee companies and LLC registered agents regularly. Thus, the regulators make sure that the providers treat clients honorably and ethically. It’s a pain in the rear end for the trustees. But it should certainly give our clients great comfort that someone is always looking over the trustee’s shoulders.
Cook Islands LLC vs. Nevis LLC Conclusion
In conclusion, we have been setting up companies in Nevis for about 30 years now. We have long been strong advocates. They are still, good. Don’t get us wrong. Likewise, we’ve been setting up companies in the Cook Islands, including the Cook Islands LLC, for almost 28 years. As we’ve experienced, with the recent improvements in the Cook Islands and the regulatory drag that often takes months to set up companies in Nevis, the Cook Islands LLC now has our greatest confidence.
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