With the promulgation of the new legislation in 2010, Labuan is one of the few common law jurisdictions offering investors a choice of common law trusts and civil law foundations.
Traditionally used in civil law countries, a foundation is tailor-made for wealthy individuals, families as well as corporations and non-profit organisations who wish to have control over their assets and businesses whilst being accorded legal protection. All aspects of Labuan Foundations are governed by the Labuan Foundations Act 2010 (“LFA”). A Shariah compliant version is also available pursuant to the Labuan Islamic Financial Services and Securities Act 2010 (“LIFSSA”) whereby its aims and operations must be in compliance with Shariah principles. Guidelines on the Establishment of Labuan Foundation including Islamic Foundation may also be issued by Labuan Financial Services Authority (“FSA”) from time to time (“Guidelines”).
Foundation is a registered body corporate with a separate legal entity, usually established by the founder to hold with the objective of managing these assets for the benefit of a class of persons on a contractual basis. It is typically used for private wealth management, business succession, asset preservation, charitable purposes and other lawful activities.
The legislation in Labuan requires the engagement of services of a Labuan IBFC registered trust company to act as its incorporation agent and secretary of the foundation in Labuan.
PURPOSE & OBJECT OF LABUAN FOUNDATION
Labuan foundation may be established to manage its own property for any lawful purpose which may be charitable or non-charitable.
- Endowment of properties can only be done by founder and his assignee.
- Not permitted to receive donations from third parties or the public.
Charitable purpose means and includes any of the following description of purposes:
- The prevention and relief of poverty
- The advancement of religion, profession or education
- The advancement of health including the prevention and relief of sickness, disease or of human suffering
- Social and community advancement including the care, support and protection of the aged, people with a disability, children and young people
- The advancement of culture, arts and heritage
- The advancement of amateur sport, which promote health by involving physical or mental exertion
- The promotion of human rights, conflict resolution and reconciliation
- The advancement of environmental protection and improvement
- The advancement of animal welfare; or
- The advancement of facilities for recreation or other leisure-time occupation in the interest of social welfare
LABUAN FOUNDATION STRUCTURE
KEY FEATURES OF LABUAN FOUNDATION
Shall end with the words “Labuan Foundation” or “(L) Foundation”.
- Registered Office
Mandatory to maintain a registered office in Labuan which shall be the address of the Secretary of the foundation.
- Legal Status
It is a legal entity, it can enter into contracts, buy and sell properties, own bank accounts or own shares or interest in other corporations.
May be fixed or infinite life span.
- Capital / Wealth Requirements
No capital requirements as a foundation does not have share capital. Minimum endowment of USD1.00 as an initial asset at time of establishment.
- Assignment of Founder’s rights, powers and obligation
A founder may transfer its rights, powers and obligations if allowed by the charter of the foundation or any instrument in writing (e.g. deed of assignment) to be executed between the founder and his assignee. In this regard, the assignee who is assigned with such rights, powers and obligations shall be deemed to be a founder when exercising them or performing such obligations. The assignee also has the rights to endow his own assets into the Labuan foundation.
- Property of Foundation
- Property of the Labuan foundation is owned legally and beneficially by the foundation and is to be utilised solely for the purposes and objects stated in the charter of the foundation.
- Property of the Labuan foundation can be Malaysian and/or non-Malaysian property.
- Any assets endowed to a Labuan foundation shall be the properties of such foundation.
- This includes:
(d.1) Assets of every kind whether corporeal or incorporeal, tangible or intangible, movable or immovable, however acquired may be endowed to a Labuan foundation; and
(d.2) Legal documents or instruments in any form, including electronic or digital, evidencing title to or interest in, such assets as described in the above bullet point including bank cheques, money orders, shares, securities, bonds, bank drafts and letters of credit.
- Property in Malaysia
- Labuan foundation for charitable purposes may hold Malaysian property and NEED NOT seek prior approval from Labuan FSA.
- For Labuan non-charitable foundations, including foundations established for the benefits of family members that intend to include Malaysian property MUST seek prior approval from Labuan FSA.
SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS FOR LABUAN CHARITABLE FOUNDATION
Jurisdiction of operation
|All Labuan charitable foundations are required to comply with the legal requirements of the jurisdiction or market they intend to operate in.|
Donations from public
A Labuan charitable foundation that solicits donation from the public shall comply with the following:
The Labuan charitable foundation is required to obtain prior approval of Labuan FSA before establishing a representative office outside of Labuan including Malaysia. The purpose is confined to carrying out facilitation of meetings and other administrative functions as approved by Labuan FSA.
Income generating or fund raising activities including investments related activities, as well as maintenance of records and books of accounts of the foundation shall not be undertaken at the representative office.
Private endowment and Public donation
LABUAN IBFC TAX SYSTEM
Labuan Business Activity Tax Act 1990 (“LBATA”) governs the imposition, assessment and collection of tax on a Labuan business activity carried on by a Labuan entity in, from or through Labuan. Only Labuan entities carrying on a Labuan business activity are able to take advantage of the provisions under LBATA.
Labuan entities that carry on a non-Labuan business activity are subject to the provisions of the Malaysian Income Tax Act, 1967 (“ITA”).
“Entity” in LBATA includes Labuan Foundation established and registered under the Labuan Foundations Act 2010.
If the foundation does not engage in trade in its own right (but through subsidiaries), its activities are non-trading and therefore, not subjected to any tax in Labuan.
Where the property of the Labuan Foundation includes Malaysian property, the ITA shall be applicable for any income derived from the Malaysian property.
WHY FOUNDATION IN LABUAN?
- Build your LEGACY
- Registered corporate body with separate legal entity
- Can be for private or charity purposes
- Protection from creditors’ claims
- Protected from foreign claims and cannot be forcefully liquidated to satisfy other obligations such as claims arising from divorce, lawsuit or creditors
- Protection against forced heirship
- Not subject to compulsory perpetuity period
- Information concerning the Labuan foundation is not on any public record.
- Simple and straight forward tax systems in Labuan. No tax in Labuan on non-trading activities
- Founder can reserve powers and rights
- Distributions by a Labuan foundation to its beneficiaries are tax-exempted in Labuan. However, the beneficiaries will need to satisfy their own tax liabilities in their respective jurisdictions of tax residence.
- No foreign exchange controls
- No withholding tax /capital gain tax / inheritance tax
- No stamp duty on all instruments relating to offshore business activities