An effective weapon in a liquidator's and creditor's arsenal to ensure the fair and equal treatment of all creditors of a failing company is the ability to challenge past transactions that sought to favour one creditor to the detriment of others. Transactions entered into by Cyprus companies that are being wound up may be voided if they constitute fraudulent preference and took place during the statutory claw-back period.
The Administrative Court recently ruled in a case concerning the differentiation in treatment, by law, between women and men of deceased spouses. The court held that the rejection of a man's application for a widower's pension was based on a legislative provision which was directly discriminatory against men, in that it treated men substantially differently to women by making the granting of a widower's pension subject to special conditions which were not required for the granting of a widow's pension.
Cyprus has elevated its ultimate beneficial owner (UBO) reporting status by implementing all of the mechanisms for the creation, operation and maintenance of a UBO register. The UBO register is a requirement emanating from the amended Fourth EU Anti-money Laundering Directive, which was transposed into national legislation in 2018. According to a recent announcement by the Companies Registrar Department, relevant entities must submit information on their UBOs within six months of 22 February 2021.
In a recent announcement by the Department of the Registrar of Companies and Official Receiver, the effective date for the commencement of data collection regarding the details of entities' beneficial owners has now moved to 22 February 2021. The final regulations governing the publication of beneficial owners' details will likely include a 'legitimate interest' requirement where legal arrangements are concerned (eg, trusts).
The House of Representatives recently voted into law an amendment to the Income Tax Law which extends the 20% deduction previously available to expatriates who earned an annual gross employment income of less than €100,000 for an additional five years. Additionally, a provision has been inserted to ensure that the relief will apply to qualifying persons for five years from the start of employment.
In 2020 the Cypriot corporate world was shaken up by various global events, including the COVID-19 pandemic; however, it has remained resilient. Looking ahead to 2021, expected trends include the use of more efficient contract terms, more balanced gender diversity on corporate boards and the slow but certain growth in disruptive technologies which can support businesses and help corporate practices to evolve. This video discusses these matters and the potential impact that they may have on companies in Cyprus.
Chapter 113(III) of the Companies Law is the main legal framework which regulates the voluntary liquidation procedure in Cyprus. There are two ways in which voluntary liquidation can be triggered: by members or creditors. This article provides an overview of the legal framework for voluntary liquidation by members and creditors, respectively.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the imposition of various measures on a global scale which have inevitably put restrictions on the physical presence of persons at their workplaces. This has raised concerns in relation to the permanent establishment of businesses and the tax residence status of legal persons. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development recently issued general guidelines for the interpretation of possible tax issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The outbreak of COVID-19 and continuation of social distancing measures have brought to light a variety of issues concerning the signing and execution of wills. Consequently, the legal world has had to resort to digital means in order to sign such documents. One of the key digital means is the use of electronic signatures instead of handwritten or wet-ink signatures.
The admiralty division of the Supreme Court recently issued a judgment confirming that a warrant of arrest may be issued only in in rem proceedings against a vessel itself. The case concerned a dispute of the company shareholders which owned the Cyprus-registered vessel Mediterranean Diamond. The sole defendant in the proceedings was the shipowning company.
The Companies Law governs the reduction of share capital in Cypriot companies. The decision to reduce share capital rests with a company's shareholders, provided that this is also permitted by the company's articles of association. Ultimately, the courts must approve the reduction of share capital. Shareholders, creditors and other stakeholders have much to lose on an inappropriate reduction of share capital; therefore, keeping an objective eye on the whole process is wise.
The Shipping Deputy Ministry recently issued Circular 20/2020, notifying interested parties of the entry into force of the 2018 amendments to the Code of the Maritime Labour Convention 2006. The amendments will enter into force on 26 December 2020. In essence, the amendments aim to provide additional protection to seafarers in the event that they are held captive as a result of acts of piracy or armed robbery against ships.
Cyprus and Russia recently signed a protocol amending the double tax treaty (DTT) between the two states. Businesses in Cyprus that will be subject to the protocol are advised to review their corporate structures and assess what impact, if any, the DTT changes will have on their overall effective tax exposure.
In June 2020 the Trademarks Law Cap 268 (as amended) was published in the Official Gazette, implementing the EU Trademarks Directive into Cypriot law. The new directive aims to accommodate the modern business environment by standardising the rules applicable in EU member states in order to facilitate transnational company activities, improve cooperation among trademark offices and support anti-counterfeiting.
There are numerous advantages available to expatriates who take up employment in Cyprus. For each tax year, a 50% deduction is available to those who earn employment income of more than €100,000 annually or a 20% deduction for those earning below €100,000. Applications for the 20% deduction were meant to close at the end of 2020, but a draft bill suggesting its prolongation for an additional five years has been put before Parliament.
A reorganisation by partial division has many benefits, especially in an economy where corporate reorganisations may be the sole means of survival for larger businesses and organisations. For this reason, it is important that professionals and businesspeople alike are aware of the existence of the procedure and the possible ways in which it may benefit their business.
The Supreme Court recently overruled a first-instance decision which had acquitted the respondent and its director of charges concerning the non-payment of monthly salaries to monthly paid staff. The Supreme Court's approach appears to be a reasonable one. It illustrates the need to ensure employees' right to receive their salary and the benefits to which they are entitled on the basis of their employment agreement.
Cyprus recently agreed an updated double tax treaty (DTT) with Switzerland. The amendments made to the DTT focus on business profits, associated enterprises, mutual agreement procedures and benefit entitlement, and the amending protocol introduces the mandatory minimum standards of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's Base Erosion and Profit Shifting actions regarding arrangements on bilateral conventions and verbal amendments agreed bilaterally.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the government introduced a series of humanitarian and financial measures, with the latter covering insolvency and restructuring matters. Although the measures could provide much-needed breathing space for companies, they might not solve problems that existed prior to the crisis.
The Tax Department recently informed the Cyprus International Businesses Association that it expects its new electronic taxation service to be operational imminently. The Tax Gateway aims to provide a central point via which all citizens, businesses and their representatives can gain information about debts owed and payments made to the department.