Registering a Company in Ras-Al-Khaimah: What to Consider?
In 2018 RAK ICC made two key appointments to its team. The appointment of Alan Bougourd as Registrar in February was followed in April by the appointment of Dr Sameer Al Ansari as CEO. These appointments were made as part of the firm’s journey towards achieving global brand recognition as a premium jurisdiction for company […]
In 2018 RAK ICC made two key appointments to its team. The appointment of Alan Bougourd as Registrar in February was followed in April by the appointment of Dr Sameer Al Ansari as CEO. These appointments were made as part of the firm’s journey towards achieving global brand recognition as a premium jurisdiction for company formation.
Dr Sameer, a UK qualified Chartered Accountant brings over 30 years of expertise and deep industry knowledge in private equity and investment banking, having managed private equity (PE) funds, investment banks (Shuaa Capital) and investment companies (Dubai International Capital). Dr Sameer was also a Board Member of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) for 12 years.
Commenting on Dr Sameer’s appointment at the time, RAK ICC Chairman, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saqr Al Qasimi, said: “We are extremely pleased to welcome Dr Sameer as the CEO of RAK ICC. As a much-respected senior figure, his time as a Board Member at the DIFC and Hawkamah as well as his extensive knowledge of the private equity and institutional investment markets reflects his tremendous know-how and it is clear that he will lend substantial credibility to RAK ICC.”
Alan joined as Registrar after having worked in the Guernsey financial services industry for over 25 years, including six years as the Head of the Registry on the island and brings the experience needed to ensure world-class standards of compliance and service at RAK ICC. To hear more about their appointments and the company, Finance Monthly speaks with Dr Sameer and Alan.
RAK ICC is responsible for the registration and incorporation of international companies in Ras Al Khaimah – what are the most important legal considerations that should be taken into account by your clients? How can non-residents avoid difficulties when attempting a company formation in Ras Al Khaimah?
Alan Bougourd: The most important legal considerations to be taken into account, once establishing a sound rationale for operating an International Business, are the stability of the jurisdiction and the legal certainty it provides. As the leading business jurisdiction in the region, the UAE provides a business-friendly environment in a strategically important location. RAK ICC operates under Common Law legislation and companies have access to the Common Law Courts of the Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) and the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), as well as the local courts in Ras Al Khaimah.
What would you say are the typical issues that RAK ICC faces when advising during the first stages of company registration and incorporation?
Sameer Al Ansari: I am pleased to say that the formation of a RAK ICC company is a relatively straightforward process. We work in close partnership with a large number of agents. Some of them are global firms and others are local businesses, so there is an agent suited to meet the requirements of every potential shareholder. Some of the global firms will have representation in the location of the shareholders and others deal directly with their clients from the UAE – whatever the scenario, the agents are well placed to explain the benefits of, and the requirements for, a RAK ICC company in meeting the international requirements for compliance.
How are these resolved?
Sameer Al Ansari: Choosing the right agent for the individual circumstances of the client is key to a successful on-going relationship. We are updating our Register of Agents to make this process easier. The agent will of course need to meet its own compliance requirements and many of the these are around identifying the client, the underlying beneficial owner, the activities of the company and the source of funds, so being able to provide this information comprehensively is key to getting the relationship off to a good start.
Alan Bougourd: We know that in addition to the RAK ICC company, clients will be looking to open bank accounts, either in the UAE or in other financial centres or indeed in their locality. RAK ICC and its agents work closely with many banks to ensure that their requirements are understood and can be clearly conveyed to clients. As banks increase their due diligence, the key requirement is an understanding not only of the company but also its counterparties in the jurisdictions in which it operates.
You were both appointed as CEO and Registrar respectively earlier this year – what are the responsibilities that you were tasked with and what are the changes/achievements that are expected from you?
Sameer Al Ansari: As CEO, I am tasked with the transformation of RAK ICC into a leading premium jurisdiction whilst also maximising the growth of value-added, knowledge-based, technically advanced and innovative business practices in Ras Al Khaimah – a task I have enormous confidence in meeting, despite global challenges. Reputational risk is a serious matter for our government, however, we are well positioned to become a high-quality jurisdiction and I am delighted to now be a part of RAK’s journey as it plays an increasing role in this sector.
HH Sheikh Ahmed said at the time of Alan’s appointment that: “Evolving client priorities are driving a shift from traditional offshore centres to high quality jurisdictions. Mr Bougourd’s appointment is a clear signal of RAK ICC’s goal of achieving global recognition as a premium jurisdiction for the provision of company formation services with a focus on high-level compliance in line with global standards. We trust that, together, they will work to further align the strategy of RAK ICC to the government of RAK in its overall drive towards building a diversified economy.”
The appointment of Alan and myself, marks the beginning of a journey and will be followed by key appointments to further develop the reach of RAK ICC in the global marketplace. We will be making key appointments to support development in key markets as we look to develop strong long-term relationships and I would encourage anyone that is interested in developing a relationship with the UAE to contact us. We have seen an increased demand from companies looking to move to a quality jurisdiction that is strategically located and is able to meet their requirements is an efficient, sustainable and cost-effective manner. More and more companies are investing time and effort in our systems, processes and product offering, so we ensure that we continue to develop these strengths.
How have the first few months of your appointments been thus far?
Alan Bougourd: Both of us have very much enjoyed meeting with Agents to understand their requirements and to ensure we build long-term relationships with them, in support of their own business objectives, to our mutual benefit. For Dr Sameer, it has been fascinating to adapt his extensive business knowledge to this key market for economic growth and for me, to adapt living and working in the UAE. However, I am enjoying working in a multi-cultural environment and aligning working practices to the highest international standards.
We both have travelled internationally to understand the requirements of international clients and to ensure that RAK ICC’s practices are aligned to the global market and international registry environment.
Dr Sameer, as the organisation’s CEO, what are your short and long-term objectives and goals for the development of RAK ICC?
Sameer Al Ansari: My short-term objectives are to ensure that RAK ICC is meeting the needs of the market it serves and longer term, we want to ensure that we have the appropriate strategy to take full advantage of the changes to the market for International Business Companies. We recognise that the market will be adapting to changing requirements for transparency and substance and are committed to ensuring that RAK ICC will develop its Regulations and Products to align with the future requirements of this market place. We are at the final stages of developing a five-year strategy which we look forward to rolling out in 2019.